WINTERSET, Iowa -- The Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association announced plans to host a state wrestling meet mid-January for all female competitors. It would be a first for the state, a step wrestling fans say is in the right direction.
Waukee freshman Rylee Rodish is the only female on her high school varsity wrestling team and the only girl to compete at Saturday's Gary Christensen Invitational in Winterset, forcing her to wrestle against the boys. The 14-year-old says she is used to the odds being stacked up against her.
"I guess the only unfairness comes downs to strength because guys are typically stronger than the girls, but I have to rely on my technique on the mat," Rodish says.
Later this month, for the first time ever, Rodish will get to compete in an all girls state tournament. It's a chance for a fair match-up, not just in weight but strength too, her mother says.
"It's nice for her to get in there and see where she lines up with everybody," says Cassie Rodish.
Nationwide, girls wrestling is growing in popularity. In Iowa, 164 girls are participating in the sport this year. Six years ago, only 40 females were competing in the state, according to trackwrestling.com. Despite the upward trend, girls wrestling is not a sanctioned sport in Iowa. Parents of daughters in wrestling hope the upcoming state tournament shines a light on the need for more fair and female competition.
"Getting it sanctioned is kind of like an 'if you build it they will come situation,'" says Brad Rodish. "The numbers will triple in the next couple of years as soon as it gets sanctioned."
The state tournament is scheduled for January 19 in Waverly.