For the first time the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) will host a Girls Wrestling Invitational Tournament in conjunction with the CIAC Wrestling State Open February 28-29 in New Haven. This marks the first CIAC organized event solely for female wrestlers.
The Invitational will crown winners in 10 weight classes, and the first, third, and fifth-place matches will coincide with the same matches in the State Open competition. The Invitational seeding and brackets will be released either Monday February 24 or Tuesday February 25.
“Over the past 99 years the CIAC has been committed to providing student-athletes with exceptional education-based experiences,” CAS-CIAC Executive Director Glenn Lungarini stated. “The inaugural CIAC Girls Wrestling Invitational Tournament exemplifies the CIAC’s innovative approach toward empowering student-athletes through school-based sports. We have every belief this will be a great showcase for talented student-athletes who are certainly deserving of this spotlight.”
Per CIAC by-laws, girls are permitted to compete on boys wrestling teams, and the number of girls competing in high school wrestling in Connecticut has grown from 70 in 2015-16 to 131 in 2018-19. Female competitors will be able to wrestle in either the Girls Invitational or the Boys Tournaments. There will be no qualifying standards for the Girls Invitational – all girl wrestlers may enter the Invitational.
“There was tremendous enthusiasm to create this Invitational with the members of the CIAC Wrestling Committee, and there is great hope this will create even more excitement and growth for girls wrestling in the state,” said Bob Lehr, CIAC Executive Staff member and Wrestling Committee liaison.
Since 1994 the number of girl high school wrestlers nationally has risen from 804 to 16,562 based on data provided by the NFHS and thirteen states currently hold a state wrestling championship for girls. The growth of the sport in Connecticut has not risen to reach the threshold at which it can be sanctioned as an official CIAC Championship sport, but the Invitational will join several other CIAC organized events designed to provide a championship-level experience.