Wisconsin youth wrestling organization seeking WIAA girls-only tournament

When we think of girls sports, we don’t often think of wrestling. However, more girls are wrestling today than ever before, but the WIAA doesn’t have a state tournament for girls alone.

A group of girls from southwestern Wisconsin is trying to change that narrative. In sports, when women have believed they could, they did. Dealya Collins believes girls can and should be able to wrestle at all levels.

“I want to wrestle all through high school,” Collins said.

Collins’ passion for wrestling began with her brother.

“He wanted to do wrestling, but he didn’t have a brother who would wrestle with him,” Collins said. “I told him if he had a brother, would he do it? He said, ‘Yes.’ I told him I would be his brother and go out and wrestle with him.”

She has been wrestling six years strong. She has made it to youth state wrestling multiple times, and she’s brought home some hardware, too.

“It’s you on the mat doing what you need to do and what you think you need to do. Not what other people are going to tell you to do,” Collins said.

She wanted that feeling to spread to more girls throughout the state.

“We decided to have a club where we would get together and create sisterhood and build up the sport,” Collins said.

She helped start Women in Singlets or WIS. Their mission is to bring girls of all ages together and introduce them to this pastime and their efforts are working.

“They all think it’s a boys’ sport but girls can do it, too,” said Riley Hanrahan, a youth wrestler from Black River Falls.

Sunday, Collins and youth wrestlers from around Wisconsin held a practice at the La Crosse Area Wrestlers facility to teach more girls in the community about the sport.

La Crosse youth coach Cory Scanlan says these girls are pioneers, creating a path of opportunities for other young girls in the state.

“It’s a just proves the point that it’s a common ground for anyone who wants to push themselves,” Scanlan said. “Women’s wrestling is the fastest growing sport in the country. We are trying to grow our numbers in this area.”

Wisconsin doesn’t have a girls-only high school state tournament, similar to the boys. These young ladies say, ‘Why not?’

“The sport is really growing and I would really like the WIAA to sanction girls wrestling,” Collins said.

Youth wrestler Rachel Schauer loves to silence the doubters.

“The guys are always saying, ‘You can’t do this because you’re a girl.’ Since I have grown up on a farm, my mom always taught me, ‘Just because you are a girl does not mean you cannot do this,'” Schauer said. “I want to prove them wrong.”

The competition is a small portion of the time they spend on this mat. The bonds they form last a lifetime.

“You meet so many people,” said youth wrestler Isabella Miller. “You can travel across the world anywhere basically and anybody could do it.”

Their hope is that one day there will be a wrestling mat they can call their own, “so all of these girls have a chance to wrestle in high school,” Collins said.

WIS is based out of the Mineral Point, Cuba City region. These wrestlers say they have contacted the WIAA about creating a girls-only tournament. WIS organizers say if more girls join youth and high school wrestling, there is a chance the WIAA will start a girl’s tournament.

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