WAVERLY — The Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association made it official Friday that it will sponsor the first interscholastic Iowa high school girls’ wrestling state championships Jan. 19 at Waverly-Shell Rock High School.

The IWCOA and Iowa High School Athletic Association sent out a release Friday afternoon announcing the tournament.

Waverly-Shell Rock was already scheduled to host a girls’ division as part of the Rick Caldwell Invitational on Jan. 19 when Go-Hawks head coach Eric Whitcome began discussions with IWCOA executive vice president Eric Eckerman about turning that meet into a state tournament.

Eckerman shared the conversation with IWCOA president Bob Murphy and the ball began to roll.

“We kind of got it going to a point. A lot of people have said, ‘Hey, are we going to have some kind of culmination activity for these girls to wrap up the season?’” Whitcome told the Courier on Dec. 20.

On the same date after talking with Murphy, Eckerman told the Courier, “It will happen. We will sponsor it.”

IHSAA director of officials Lewie Curtis also has thrown his name behind the tournament.

The event will wrap up the second season during which IHSAA member schools have offered females the opportunity to compete in girls’ divisions. All eligible girls competing on wrestling teams sponsored by IHSAA member schools and included on their rosters are eligible to participate. The event will count as one of the wrestler’s 17 competition dates allowed during the season by the IHSAA rules.

After there were a handful of tournaments in December that held girls’ divisions, there were nine more opportunities on the schedule in January, and Waverly’s was the final one.

“We just happened to be the last one on the schedule,” Whitcome said in the December interview.

According to the release by the IWCOA and IHSAA, wrestling will begin at 10:30 a.m. at Waverly-Shell Rock and will feature 10 weight classes — 106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 152, 170, 195 and 285. The top six placewinners will be recognized in each class, and the top three teams will also be recognized.

Several teams in Northeast Iowa have more than 10 girls participating in the sport, including W-SR, Osage and Charles City with Denver head wrestling coach Chris Krueger tweeting Thursday that the Cyclones have had 14 girls sign up for wrestling.

After 93 girls participated last year, according to the IHSAA, the number has risen to 157 in 2018-19, according to the IWCOA release.

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