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Girls wrestling: MSHSL announces expansion of girls section and state tournaments

The sport of girls wrestling has taken off around the country, but especially in Minnesota the last couple of years. The latest evidence comes in the forms of a larger postseason.

Girls state wrestling
Pine Island eighth-grader Lauren Elsmore (red headgear) wrestles Wayzata junior Maddie Alexander in a 100-pound semifinal in the first-ever MSHSL girls state wrestling tournament on Saturday, March 5, 2022, at the Xcel Energy Center.
Alex VandenHouten / Post Bulletin
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Some exciting news for Minnesota girls wrestling was just announced by the MSHSL on Wednesday.

Just one year after holding the first sanctioned girls section and state tournaments, the League announced it will be expanding the girls wrestling postseason starting this year.

"The MSHSL is excited to see continued growth in girls wrestling," the League said in a statement. "The number of girls in MSHSL wrestling has more than doubled since last year and the League recognizes the need to modify and expand postseason opportunities at both the section and state tournaments.

"After careful data analysis and consultation with tournament staff, we will be modifying the girls individual section and state tournaments."

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A season ago there were just two section tournaments with Sections 1-4 and 5-8 squaring off. Now there will be four with Sections 1-2 combining, then 3-4, 5-6 and 7-8. Sections 1-4 will once again be held at Hastings High School, while Sections 5-8 will be at Sartell High School. Both are set for Saturday, Feb. 11. The first- and second-place winners from each weight class qualify for state.

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The expansion of sections means the expansion of the state tournament. Last year, each weight class at state was a four-person bracket in the first-ever sanctioned state tournament. This year's tournament will see brackets double to eight, while each class will now have consolation championships with the chance to wrestle for a fifth-place medal.

The state tournament is set for Saturday, March 4.

Overall, it's a win-win for girls wrestling in Minnesota.

Former Lake City standout grappler Jason Elsmore did not want his daughter Lauren to wrestle, but the feisty Pine Island freshman has never been one to back down from any challenge.

According to Lake City coach Doug Vaith — who has four girls out for wrestling this year — the number of girls wrestling in the state is 541. That is more than double of last year's total of 250.

"I think the growth the sport has shown, the reward at the end is matching the numbers that are coming out," Vaith said. "I just think it's going to be that much more exciting for girls."

Related Topics: WRESTLINGROCHESTER
Alex VandenHouten has been a sports reporter at the Post Bulletin since Sept. 2021. He loves to go hiking, biking, snowshoeing and just simply being outdoors with his wife Olivia. Readers can reach Alex at avandenhouten@postbulletin.com.
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