‘Iowa was ready for girls wrestling’ following inaugural sanctioned state tournament

"I've been wrestling for 14 years now so to finally have a girls state is really amazing because I've grown up wrestling boys."
Published: Feb. 8, 2023 at 10:50 PM CST
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CORALVILLE, Iowa (KCRG) - Xtream Arena in Coralville hosted three days of championship events starting with the first-ever sanctioned girls state wrestling tournament.

“I’ve been wrestling for 14 years now,” Anamosa state qualifier Adison Musser said. “To finally have a girls state is really amazing because I’ve grown up wrestling boys.”

“There is a lot more pink than I expected, but I think it’s really cool that people from everywhere, like I know people from Illinois watching online, too. It’s cool the wrestling community has grown so much,” Union Community 105 pound state champion Jillian Worthen said.

The arena hosted the first two girls state tournaments before the sport was sanctioned, but had never sold out until this year. The first day, 1,600 tickets were sold the day before the tournament. Overnight and the next morning, 2,700 more tickets were sold.

“We had to kick the cheerleaders out of their stands because there’s so many people. It’s just great. That’s why the wrestling community is just the best thing ever,” Worthen added.

“Iowa really was ready for girls wrestling. It’s something that those of us who have been around the sport for a long time knew, but until you actually sanction it and you put on the first event, it makes people’s eyes open a little wider and go whoa,” President at the Iowa City/Coralville Area Conventions and Visitors Bureau Josh Schamberger said.

Finals day was a few hundred short of a sellout, but area organizers aren’t worried about the tournament outgrowing the space.

“They’ll have to go with a couple different classes and if not we’ll keep it up. If it gets too too big, maybe we’ll just move it down the street into Carver,” Schamberger said.

Just as the sport has evolved, the competition continues to impress. For the first time, wrestlers had to qualify for the 448-participant field.

“There was obviously a lot less matches this year because I didn’t have a 124-person bracket or something, but it was still hard. I had some really good matches after the first couple. It’s always fun competing against other girls,” Iowa Valley 145 pound state champion Emma Peach said.

Boys wrestling teams even got their first glimpse of Xtream Arena during the team dual tournament.

The venue is contracted to host the girls state wrestling tournament through the next two years. Something the arena strives to do for every event is put on a great show.

“You could see when they were running through that tunnel,l the huge smiles on their faces. They knew that they were the center of attention and that’s as they should be for the state tournament,” said Schamberger.