Girls wrestling will finally have its day.
The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Board of Control reviewed and acted on coaches committee recommendations impacting winter sports, including the addition of a State Tournament Series for girls wrestling in 2022, and other rule and budget considerations in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic at its June virtual meeting June 24.
A much-discussed coaches’ recommendation to add a girls division to the State Tournament Series in wrestling was amended to conduct a girls-only individual tournament in 2021-22. Girls and boys will be permitted to wrestle each other during the regular season, but the Tournament Series will be gender exclusive.
The vote was passed unanimously, 10-0.
“To me it’s not a safety issue, it’s competitive equality,” board member Bernie Nikolay of Cambridge said. “It’s about the opportunity to compete against people they can beat and that’s other girls for the most part.”
Cambridge had two girls participate this past season, Kenidee Clark and Aeveri Ciha.
In other wrestling-related board action, Trackwrestling.com will be used to randomly place sectional champions on the State Individual Tournament brackets in all divisions with the second- and third-place sectional finishers placed on the opposite half of the bracket beginning in 2021. In addition, the start time for the finals of the team sectional tournament for Divisions 2 and 3 will be 20 minutes following the completion of the semifinals or earlier if both coaches agree.
In recognition of the challenges many students may have experienced with access and adapting to virtual schooling last spring following school closures because of COVID-19, the board voted unanimously to allow a school option to defer academic eligibility grade requirements for all students until the first grading period of the 2020-21 school year. The executive office will be providing additional guidance for members in the coming days.
Another board decision in response to the COVID-19 pandemic extends the window by one week to use the coaches’ five unrestricted coaching days for this summer only. This allows 11-player football coaches unrestricted contact through Aug. 1 and all other coaches through Aug. 8. The extended period reflects a heightened emphasis on acclimatization for the health and safety for student-athletes. The executive office will be providing additional guidance for members in the coming days.
In an effort to address the impact on the operational budget following the cancellation of revenue-producing tournaments during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board approved a number of Executive Staff recommendations to increase revenue and contain expenditures in 2020-21. All regional, sectional and State Tournament ticket prices will be increased $1. In addition, State Tournament school mileage reimbursements for team and individual travel will decrease 50 cents per mile for 2020-21 only, and the regional and sectional host revenue sharing percentage will be decreased by 5 percent for one year only. Furthermore, Sports Advisory Committee meetings and all sport Coaches Advisory Committee meetings will be conducted virtually in 2020-21, and mileage reimbursement for board, staff, committees and officials will be reduced 5 cents per mile.