WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — With the wins still fresh and the cheers still ringing from Iowa’s first sanctioned high school girls wrestling tournament, there’s time for one more victory lap. One from those in charge.
“I think we thought it was a really good starting place,” says Erin Kirtley, associate director of the Iowa Girls’ High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU).
They’re being modest over at the Girls’ Union. They know darn well they just shot the moon.
“Our new sports sanctioning procedures called for two-year process,” says executive director, Jean Berger, “but we did it in a year because we just thought we were that far along.”
America’s wrestling capital just doubled its holding capacity. How was success ever in question?
“It was just watching these girls enjoy it, right?” Kirtley smiles. “It was like ‘this is what they worked so hard for!’”
Over 7,800 fans pushed into XTream Arena in Coralville. The Union says it’ll consider more sessions next year to make room but won’t move to a bigger venue — yet.
“What’s more awesome than telling girls they’re going to walk into a full house for every session?” says Kirtley.
Next year’s tournament will be bigger and better. But so will the crowd of girls drawn to the sport. And that will be the biggest win of all.
“Ultimately, it was the Iowa girl who told us what she wanted,” Berger smiles. “And if we follow that–then we’ll probably be doing a great job.”