Thought Bubble | Girls wrestling deserves fair treatment at tournaments

Girls wrestling is a new program to WHS, and it’s only existed in Kansas for a few years. Despite the local support and enthusiasm our team has enjoyed, there are some glaring differences in fairness between boys and girls at tournaments. 

“Intentional or unintentional, our girls have been mistreated at every tournament besides our Kansas City tournament,” head coach Tyler Douglass said. “I understand that the level of competition and the number of competitors doesn’t always equal out, but if you are going to put on a girls division/tournament, it has to be the same. In my eyes, some tournaments, I have had minor grievances, and some it has been more egregious. And we haven’t even experienced the worst.”

At almost every meet there have been issues with the host not providing girls medals, not having a podium, or not even bothering to calculate team scoring.

This may not seem like a big issue right off the bat, but when the boys are getting medals at the same tournaments that girls are not, it is very frustrating. 

“It’s really unfair that girls don’t get medals at meets that are the same size as guys meets. The one meet that I would’ve medaled at, I didn’t get one. We would’ve also got a team plaque and we didn’t get one. I just think it’s really unfair that only girls have to go through that, especially when everyone else is so supportive of girls wrestling,” sophomore Payton Wurtz said. 

We have a very supportive community at WHS, especially for a program in its first season, but at some meets it feels like we’re an afterthought. 

Coach Douglass has been working to fix issues like this. “Aside from complaining to host coaches at the tournaments where we have had issues. I have written a letter to (KSHSAA assistant executive director) Mark Lentz. I have been working to build a coalition of coaches to go to KSHSAA and have a well-defined proposal and outline repercussions if you can’t adhere to the guidelines regarding hosting a girls tournament. It’s unacceptable and frankly will cause girls to not want to be a part of the sport,” he said. 

In addition, the wrestling program has high hopes for hosting its very own tournament in the future. “I don’t have any details right now. But I will say this: our team, our school, our district wants to set the standard. If I had it my way, the girls would have their own individual tournament. “No Boys Allowed.” We would get really insanely cool over-the-top medals. Have a podium. T-shirt stands. Food trucks. The whole nine yards and then some. I want to get teams here, keep teams here, get more teams interested and set this as the standard,” Douglass said. 

Growing the popularity of girls wrestling will be good for every wrestler, and tournament hosts should do everything they can to treat everyone fairly. There’s is no excuse for some wrestlers to be treated as an afterthought.

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