In a move to take advantage of the growing number of girls wrestlers, the CIAC announced Monday it will hold an invitational girls wrestling tournament in tandem with its annual State Open in February.
The invitational will held over the same weekend as the State Open, February 28-29 at the Floyd Little Center in New HAven and consist of 10 weight classes and will crown champions alongside the State Open finals. Seedings and brackets will be released either the preceding Monday, Feb. 24 or Tuesday, Feb. 25.
Female wrestlers are allowed to compete on boys teams, per CIAC bylaws. The number of girls competing in wrestling in CIAC member schools has nearly doubled over the last three seasons, from 70 in 2015-16 to 131 last year, according to the organization.
While that number falls short of the number required to earn an official CIAC sanction of girls wrestling, the organization said the invitational is designed to provide the growing roster of female wrestlers “a championship-level experience.”
Girls will be allowed to compete in either the Invitational or the boys State Open, the CIAC said. All girl wrestlers are eligible to enter the Invitational.
“The inaugural CIAC Girls Wrestling Invitational Tournament exemplifies the CIAC’s innovative approach toward empowering student-athletes through school-based sports,” CIAC executive director Glenn Lungarini said in a statement, released Monday. “We have every belief this will be a great showcase for talented student-athletes who are certainly deserving of this spotlight.”
Thirteen states across the country hold state wrestling championships for girls. According to the NFHS, female wrestling participation has grown 20 times the amount since 1994 — from 804 to 16,562 nationwide last year.
“There was tremendous enthusiasm to create this Invitational with the members of the CIAC Wrestling Committee, and there is great hope this will create even more excitement and growth for girls wrestling in the state,” CIAC executive staff member and wrestling committee liaison Bob Lehr said in a statement.