Oklahoma is well known as one of the top wrestling states in the country. Oklahoma State has won 34 national championships. Stillwater is home to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum. Top collegiate programs also exist at the University of Oklahoma, University of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma City University and several other schools.
With that kind of pedigree, it makes sense that there would be an interest in girl’s wrestling as well. The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association made the decision last year to introduce girl’s wrestling as a non-sanctioned (for now) activity at the high school level.
“Growth in the sport is happening at a rapid rate all over the country, said OSSAA Assistant Director Todd Goolsby. “We know female participation is quite abundant in the younger age groups. It’s time those girls have the same opportunity at the high school level.”
Participation numbers are through the roof this year in Oklahoma. Last year, per the OSSAA website, nearly 100 female wrestlers competed at the high school level. This year, that number has more than tripled and 86 schools across the state have at least one female wrestler competing.
Broken Arrow, the largest high school in Oklahoma, is the first school in the state to hire a girl’s wrestling coach. In its first year, Cassidy Jasperson already oversees a program with nearly 40 girls on the roster.
“I feel so lucky,” said Jasperson, who was a Texas high school state wrestling champion and a five-time All-American at Oklahoma City University. “I have a dream job. It’s incredible to be able to offer this to girls. I feel completely honored every single day waking up knowing what I get to go to work and do.”
The participation numbers aren’t growing only on the east side of the state, either. Capitol Hill High School in Oklahoma City has 24 girls on its wrestling roster, the second largest team in the state. Norman has more than a dozen girls out for wrestling, as does east-side schools Claremore and Stilwell.
While many of the participants are brand new to the sport, there are some early standouts as well. Broken Arrow’s Olivia Brown is currently the number one ranked girl’s heavyweight in the country. Another Tiger wrestler, Allison Hynes, is ranked 8th at 112 pounds.
In order for girl’s wrestling to become an official high school sport nationally, governing bodies will have to determine set weight classes. With the explosion in popularity, Goolsby believes the National Federation of State High School Associations may discuss setting official weight classes at its next annual meeting this spring.
“That’s going to go a long way towards determining where we go,” admitted Goolsby. “We’re going to continue to promote it and build upon it, but I’m excited for the possibility of setting official weight classes for the girls like we have for the boys.”
It’s plain to see it won’t be long before Oklahoma will be crowning team and individual state champions in girl’s wrestling.
“We’re just starting to scratch the surface,” said Goolsby. “With the growth we’ve seen this year I definitely think you’ll see that in the not so near future.”