Girls only: Friday wrestling meet will make NJ history
MANALAPAN — A wrestling meet Friday evening versus Jackson Memorial marks a major moment in history for New Jersey high school athletics.
For the first time in the Garden State, a dual meet will feature only female wrestlers.
"We are going to wrestle 10 weight classes, and we're going to keep a team score, and we're going to have a winner at the end," coach Scott Pressman told New Jersey 101.5.
MHS had two girls on its wrestling team in 2017, Pressman said. This year, 19 females are on the roster.
Females are not new to the sport. Girls have been part of wrestling teams throughout the state, but hardly ever in numbers to allow for female-only meets.
Additional interest may have been sparked by a move earlier this year to green-light regional tournaments for females and a female-only segment of the state championships early next year in Atlantic City.
"To be on this side of history with high school wrestling is tremendous for us," said Rodney Taylor, supervisor of extracurricular activities for MHS. "We preach and we push equality all the time, and to see our young females go out there and establish themselves on the wrestling mat is going to be very exciting to watch."
No additional female-only matches have been finalized for MHS, but there will be more, Pressman said. Girls can still participate in the typical meets during the season and wrestle boys.
The male-heavy sport has steadily garnered female attention over recent years. Nearly 130 females participated on New Jersey schools' wrestling teams in 2017-2018. The count was 116 in 2016-2017.
Female wrestling was introduced as an Olympic sport in 2004.