As girls’ wrestling continues to grapple with its emerging status toward becoming a sanctioned sport by the Alabama High School Athletic Association, Baldwin County athletes are at the …
As girls’ wrestling continues to grapple with its emerging status toward becoming a sanctioned sport by the Alabama High School Athletic Association, Baldwin County athletes are at the forefront of the growing number of participants.
According to the Alabama Girls’ Wrestling Alliance (AGWA), sanctioning was denied before this season because the sport needed to show more growth in participation statewide.
However, with the numbers still on the rise, the AHSAA wrestling committee did vote to classify girls’ wrestling as an emerging sport for this season and next season where now there are separate divisions for male and female participants.
The AGWA compiled midseason statistics via trackwrestling.com, Alabama girls’ wrestling’s official website for results, between November and Dec. 28, 2022, and already showed a 42% growth in active girls’ participants compared to last year.
To be considered an active participant, AGWA said the athletes must pass a hydration test run by Encore — a third-party service that runs a weight certification program — and then wrestle in at least one match entered into TrackWrestling.
While there had already been 424 girls’ hydration tests completed to that point, AGWA said more tests could be administered before the state championship meet Jan. 20 in Birmingham. Additionally, while 355 athletes had already recorded at least one match to that point, more wrestlers could have their first match at the state meet.
In Baldwin County alone, 58 athletes had already taken a hydration test and 47 girls had recorded at least one match where Daphne — the two-time defending state champions — and Gulf Shores had the highest turnout with double digits in both columns.
The Lady Trojans had 19 take a test and had 16 active participants and the Lady Dolphins had 14 take the test and 11 active participants in the time frame.
Foley (8 tests, 6 active), Baldwin County (6 tests, 5 active), Robertsdale (4 tests, 3 active), Elberta (3 tests, 2 active), Fairhope (2 tests, 2 active) and Spanish Fort (2 tests, 2 active) followed behind them as the local representatives pushing the sport toward sanctioning.
As for the entire 2021-2022 season, AGWA said 252 girls were listed on TrackWrestling where 208 wrestled at least one match but 181 wrestled fewer than 15 matches.
Already in the first half of the 2022-2023 season, 77 girls had wrestled more than 15 matches and 37 wrestlers who had already recorded more than 20 matches. There were also over 180 athletes that had wrestled between 7-15 matches.
Altogether, there are 71 girls’ teams actively participating across the state this season after 75 total teams took hydration tests.
Last year, 45 teams participated in the state championship meet but 17 of those squads had only one wrestler on the team and another 20 had fewer than the seven athletes needed to host a regional dual. However, that still marked an improvement from the 25 teams that competed in the previous state championship.
As Baldwin County athletes continue to push the sport toward sanctioning, plenty will be on display during this weekend’s county championship meet hosted at Gulf Shores High School. All 11 wrestling teams are scheduled to converge on the island to fight for top spots ahead of the dual state tournament.
Local teams with the number of hydration tests and active participants between November and Dec. 28, 2022, according to AGWA
Baldwin County: 6-5