Girls wrestling gains full IHSAA recognition

Apr. 29—INDIANAPOLIS — During its annual review of the member school by-laws Monday, the board of directors of the IHSAA approved for full recognition the sport of girls wrestling when the 2024-25 school year begins.

The move, announced in a Monday press release, had been anticipated after the exponential growth of the sport during its two-year stint as an emerging sport. It was also seen as long overdue as Indiana became the 46th state to officially sanction girls wrestling.

"I'm happy. This is a good day," Hall of Fame Pendleton Heights wrestling coach Dave Cloud said. "It was a long time coming. We've known for a long time that it was inevitable because it was so popular and so many wanted to be involved. It was discouraging at times. We're the 46th state to finally sanction it. I've been a little impatient, but I'm happy for the girls that they have their own sport now."

The board of directors also sanctioned boys volleyball, which was an emerging sport during the same two-year period.

With full recognition, an IHSAA state tournament will now be established for both sports with those details being announced in the coming months. Girls wrestling will be a winter sport while boys volleyball will be played in the spring, just as they have in previous years and during the IHSAA's emerging sport process. The Indiana Boys Volleyball Coaches Association has been administering its state tournament since 1994, while the Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association has been conducting a girls wrestling state tournament since 2017.

Five area girls advanced to the state finals of the 2023-24 state tournament, including 135-pound state champion Maddie Marsh of Pendleton Heights and 106-pound runner-up Kynlie Keffer of Daleville. Both were freshmen, as were Alexandria's Riley Thomas (140 pounds) and Keffer's Broncos teammate Raegan Jackson (190), who also qualified for the state finals, along with Lapel sophomore 120-pounder Paige Stires.

After being added to the emerging sport process in 2022, both have seen significant growth over the last 24 months.

Girls wrestling touts more than 1,400 individuals representing 177 schools while boys volleyball teams have climbed to more than 100.

"It's been explosive," Cloud said. "And it's only going to get bigger. In every state where it is sanctioned, that growth in participation has continued."

Cloud suggests the regular season schedule for girls wrestling will vary from program to program. Some schools may choose to schedule separate girls and boys meets, while others may hold them at the same time, generating larger revenue per event.

"I think you'll see both," he said. "At the smaller schools, it's a question of resources and staff."

It will be made clear in the coming months what the IHSAA tournament will look like and whether the girls postseason will be held separately or concurrently with the boys.

"One reality we're going to face is the number of officials, if they run them separately or at different venues," Cloud said.

They become the latest sports to be fully recognized following unified flag football in 2018 and unified track and field in 2013. Both are co-ed sports as part of the IHSAA's partnership with Special Olympics Indiana. Prior to those, boys and girls soccer became official IHSAA sports in 1994.

Contact Rob Hunt at or 765-640-4886.

Contact Rob Hunt at or 765-640-4886.