Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association approves girls’ state wrestling tourney |

Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association approves girls’ state wrestling tourney

Though much uncertainty remains regarding the upcoming school year and sports seasons, the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association announced a change in its state wrestling format, introducing a girls’ tournament to close out the winter season.

At its meeting in mid-June the association’s board of control approved of the tournament, which will run in conjunction with the regularly scheduled state wrestling meet.

“Providing the opportunity for girls to compete against their own gender as they do in other sports will encourage participation in a sport already being conducted at our member schools,” said Executive Director Bart Thompson. “Participation is the key, those who participate in sports do better in school, that’s why we have high school sports.”

Once the winter sports season begins, Nevada will join 27 other states in offering a girls’ state wrestling tournament.

“That, along with NCAA recently announcing that women’s wrestling has been granted emerging sport status at the Division 1-3 level, is a tremendous step forward for the sport,” said Aaron Svitana, head coach for Truckee’s youth program. “Clearly, this further validates the exponential growth that women’s wrestling has seen across the country in the last decade and the opportunities it affords from a general participation perspective, up to and including, increased scholarship availability at the college level. I think it’s really opening the door for more participants – female or male – to reap the athletic and life-skill benefits wrestling provides.”

Svitana added that he’s seen increased participation in girls-only divisions at youth tournaments within the Sierra Wrestling Association, in which the Truckee Wrestling Club competes.

“In the five years since the Truckee Wrestling Club has been re-established, we’ve traditionally had a small handful of girls competing on the team,” said Svitana. “This past season we saw Viviana Zavala really grow in athletic ability and confidence which culminated in her capturing a (Sierra Wrestling Association) league championship in her girls’ division the week before our season was canceled due to the pandemic … We’re also excited to have added Tarin O’Donnell to our all-volunteer coaching staff this past season. Tarin is a veteran of wrestling from Washington state which was an early adopter of women’s wrestling and her technical skills and positive attitude working with boys and girls is a great asset to our club.”

Truckee High School wrestling head coach Jim Bennett said in past years he’s seen apprehension among prospective girl wrestlers due to having to compete against boys, and while that will continue during regular season tournaments, the chance to grapple for state titles against other girls may provide incentive for more to join a program that has been striving to grow its roster the past few seasons.

“I believe that girls wrestling in Nevada deserve their own state championships,” said Bennett.

“At the high school, we have had a very open-door policy in order to build the program. And with that, we have had several girls in our program and I think (it) will be a great opportunity to expand on.”

Details for the tournament will be finalized at a future board meeting, but it is anticipated that this year’s tournament will be individual only, meaning girls wouldn’t tally points for an overall team score.

“We look forward to the opportunity to expand and grow the wrestling culture here in our community,” added Bennett.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at or 530-550-2643.

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