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LHSAA votes to create girls wrestling division in high school sports

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ST. AMANT - Girls in high schools across Louisiana will have their own wrestling teams beginning this fall, thanks to a vote by the LHSAA.

In a vote of 98-1, the Louisiana High School Athletic Association voted to sanction girls wrestling. The item was tabled in previous years due to concerns about funding and other potential issues.

Before this vote, girls could join the wrestling team and compete against boys in their weight class. Now, they will have a separate division and the ability to earn state and national varsity titles.

Coach Clint Brownell at St. Amant High School said the girls on his team work just as hard as the boys and deserve recognition.

"The only way they can wrestle other girls is in JV level competition and they aren't getting the proper treatment that they deserve, as in getting in all the record books for their accomplishments," Brownell said days before the vote took place.

St. Amant High School senior, Kyleigh Pearson, is one of three girls on the Gators wrestling team. To her, learning how to wrestle was a form of self-expression and empowerment.

"Wrestling helped me overcome bullying," Pearson said. "They kinda stopped messing with me after I won a couple matches."

Pearson and Coach Brownell believe the LHSAA's decision is a step in the right direction. To them and many others, the benefits are more important than any potential drawbacks. 

The sanction will become effective during the 2024-25 school year. 

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