NCHSAA-sanctioned women’s wrestling now a ‘viable alternative’

Caleigh Suddreth won the first state Women’s Invitational gold medal in Lake Norman history in February. /Lake Norman Wrestling

The sanctioning of women’s wrestling highlighted the N.C. High School Athletic Association’s spring meeting April 27.

It will become its own sport for the 2023-24 school year following a time when girls had to wrestle against the boys. Hough wrestling coach Tripp Rogers is excited that it allows separate competitions.

“With it sanctioned, it will let them know it is a viable option, they don’t have to wrestle boys,” Rogers said. “It is a legit varsity sport.”

Hough did not have any girl wrestlers last season, though some did express interest, Rogers said. High-profile invitationals like Holy Angels and Tiger in Chapel Hill have had girls-only brackets.

“I never turn anyone away,” he said. “It shows there is a viable alternative. You run into fewer Title IX issues. You’ve got to find the money like anything else.”

Sophomore Caleigh Suddreth was one of six girls on the Lake Norman High team and in February won the gold medal at the state Women’s Invitational held in conjunction with the North Carolina Chapter of USA Wrestling. Her senior year will be the first with the new sport after speaking on the issue earlier in the year.

“It’s really disappointing,” she said of the lack of the sanctioned sport. “That’s something I’m really passionate about.”

The NCHSAA also added a second championship classification to women’s lacrosse for 2022-23, with the changes coming on the 50th anniversary of Title IX.

“We are proud to provide new opportunities for women to participate in education-based athletic programs and are excited to see the many ways that these new programs will benefit the student experience in our state,” Commissioner Que Tucker said.

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