Girls wrestling to become LHSAA varsity sport in 2024-25

BATON ROUGE — Girls wrestle, too.

That sentiment was echoed by a vote Thursday at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) convention in Baton Rouge.

The high school principals voted 96-1 to approve girls wrestling as an LHSAA varsity sport in 2024-25. The girls will have their own division separate from the boys division. Previously, girls could join high school wrestling teams across the state and compete against boys in their weight class.

Before today’s vote, the only way girls would typically wrestle against other girls was in junior varsity-level competition, which doesn’t get the same recognition as varsity.

St. Amant has three girls on its wrestling team. Lanie Pearson, the mother of one of the wrestlers, Kyleigh Pearson, said girls’ wrestling has continued to grow, and this vote is enormous for the sport.

“Girls wrestling is one of the fastest-growing sports, and these ladies work entirely too hard not to have their events count as a varsity sport or have their accomplishments recognized like boys,” Lanie said.

“Sanctioning the sport allows girls to have their own district and state meetings wrestling against girls. This would encourage other girls to join and continue the growth of wrestling in our state.”


Vote empowers female wrestlers, highlights their success

Kyleigh, a senior wrestler on the team, said making girls wrestling a sanctioned sport will allow more girls to be highlighted for their success.

“Sanctioning girls wrestling will help grow the sport and further empower more girls like me,” Kyleigh said. “I have participated in many other sports, and nothing has compared to wrestling. It helped me gain confidence and overcome bullying. Coach Clint [Brownell] pushes us as hard as all the boys and helps us break through challenges.”

Kyleigh competes in the 144-pound division, while teammates Rayne Steely and Mikayla Byington compete in the 150 and 106-pound divisions, respectively. Byington and Steely each placed first in their weight classes at the Baton Rouge City Championships last week, and Kyleigh finished second.

“The vote means a lot to me as a woman but also a varsity wrestler because it impacts the structure of our tournaments and the people around us,” Byington said. “Today’s vote may push some girls to want to do wrestling and have a fair shot at becoming more competitive.”

“The girls of the wrestling community will finally be able to be seen as we are, competing at a real sport and not just “JV select,” Steely said. “I hope that the girls who are wrestling now, who helped make this sport, will inspire girls to come and wrestle so they can know how truly amazing the sport is.”

‘It is a pretty big day for girls wrestling’

Jimmy Bible, the head wrestling coach at Brusly High has five girls on his wrestling team. He said Thursday’s vote is huge even though the girls who are seniors won’t have a chance to benefit from it.

“It is a pretty big day for girls wrestling in the state,” he said. “They’ll have their own championship and all that other kind of stuff. There’s more opportunities in college for girls to go wrestle, to go get an education and things like that. Some of those girls want those opportunities.

“We had to go through a process to get girls wrestling recognized here in Louisiana,” he continued. “It took longer than we wanted it to but they got it done. And the main thing about it, all these girls in the future are going to benefit from what these girls have done right now.”

The Louisiana High School Coaches Association girls state wrestling tournament is set for 9 a.m. Saturday at Baton Rouge High. It is the second year of the tournament, which is considered a JV event by the LHSAA.

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