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OHSAA’s recognition of girls wrestling is welcome news in Dover

| January 21, 2022
Dover's Payton Curley (center) stands atop the podium after going 3-0 with three pins at the Mechanicsburg girls tournament to earn first place at 170 pounds. (Courtesy of Dover Tornado Wrestling)

DOVER (WJER) (January 20, 2022) – The OHSAA last week added girls wrestling to the list of recognized high school sports in Ohio.

It’s classified as an emerging sport. That means for the most part it’s treated like a regular sport but must meet some additional requirements before it’s fully sanctioned.

There will be an OHSAA girls state wrestling tournament starting with the 2022-23 season.

That is all welcome news in Dover, where senior Payton Curley has been among those carrying the torch for girls wrestling in Tuscarawas County. Dover High Wrestling Coach Brian Bullock says she’s been wrestling in Dover since third grade.

“She works really hard,” Bullock said. “She wrestles on the national circuit. I’m sure she’s really excited to see wrestling added as a girls’ sport for next year.”

The Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches’ Association has conducted a non-OHSAA girls state tournament for the past two years, and Curley placed at both events. Bullock says she travels a lot to find other girls to wrestle against.

Most recently Curley placed first at a tournament in Mechanicsburg, pinning all three of her opponents.

Bullock says wrestling is opening up opportunities for Curley.

“She’s talking to several college coaches who are excited about her, excited about the wrestling she’s doing, which is great for her,” he said.

As a senior this year, Curley won’t get to compete in the first OHSAA girls wrestling tournament next year. But bullock says she’s inspiring some younger girls who may end up being Dover’s first girls to compete in that event.

“We do have three or four girls in our youth squad,” he said. “Down the road we may see if something happens. Right now, we’re just excited that they’re wrestling and working out. Two of the girls on the youth team are Payton’s sisters.”

The OHSAA also added boys’ volleyball last week. That means there’s 28 OHSAA sports – 14 for boys, 14 for girls. According to a press release from the OHSAA, E-sports in some form might be next.

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