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SanctionPA Celebrates Girls Wrestling Sanctioning in Pennsylvania

PA becomes 38th state to recognize high school girls wrestling as an official sport

Mechanicsburg, PA (May 17, 2023) – SanctionPA celebrates the unanimous vote that came down this afternoon by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) to fully sponsor girls wrestling as an official sport, which will now be governed by the organization. Jurisdiction by the PIAA will begin July 1, 2023 and the 2023-2024 winter season will be the first season with PIAA girls wrestling. A PIAA state championship will be held in March 2024 and is projected to be at the Giant Center, the same weekend as the PIAA boys state championship. The vote comes after an arduous effort by SanctionPA and schools across the commonwealth to organize and advocate for sponsorship of the rapidly growing sport.

On February 14th, 2023, the 100th school voted to approve a girls wrestling program, meeting the threshold set forth by the state’s high school athletics governing body to qualify the sport of girls wrestling for consideration for full sponsorship. There are now 108 schools who currently have approved girls wrestling programs, with anticipation of continued growth. The momentum of girls wrestling in the state hit its stride at the beginning of the 2022-23 school year, with 46 schools approving official programs since September 2022. View the full list of current schools with officially approved programs here.

High school girls wrestling participation in Pennsylvania grew by over 80% during the 2022-23 season and has experienced over a 400% growth in the past five years. All 12 PIAA district areas have girls wrestling within their area schools. Nationally, there are now 38 state high school associations sanctioning a girls wrestling state championship, including Pennsylvania.

SanctionPA, the concerted initiative to pave a pathway for Pennsylvania high school girls wrestling was launched in March 2020. The initiative introduced grassroots efforts to meet the goal of 100 schools, which includes general advocacy, education, resources, promotional material and collaboration with schools to work towards getting high school girls wrestling programs approved. In less than three years, which included the Covid-19 pandemic, the group was able to successfully mobilize schools across the state to organize and create official girls programs.

The SanctionPA campaign will continue to operate in providing educational information and resources to grow girls wrestling opportunities and promote the addition of girls wrestling programs across the state.

The PIAA rules required a minimum of 100 schools to form official girls wrestling programs before fully sanctioning a sport. Last year the organization unanimously voted to approve girls wrestling as a PIAA Emerging Sport under their new emerging sport process. This designation indicated that girls wrestling is a sport that the PIAA is tracking for potential full sponsorship and demonstrates that girls wrestling has a clear plan and path to sanctioning in the PIAA’s eyes. The PIAA will now be the official governing body and responsible party for Pennsylvania interscholastic girls wrestling.


“In line with national trends, we anticipate the girls wrestling participation numbers to increase with the official vote to sanction the sport. And it is with great anticipation we look forward to celebrating the very first PIAA sponsored girls wrestling state tournament next year. In just 3-years, SanctionPA and the schools across the state were able to mobilize and showcase the support for this rapidly growing sport. We look forward to continuing to advocate and support the growth of the sport in the state.”
-- Brooke Zumas, president of SanctionPA

“It is an amazing day for women in sport and for girls wrestling in Pennsylvania. Today’s vote by PIAA signals a strong commitment to the continued growth of girls wrestling and the increase of equitable opportunities for females participating in wrestling. We applaud the PIAA for acting swiftly after the 100 school threshold was met to collect the votes needed for sponsorship of girls wrestling.”
-- Chris Atkinson, chairman of women’s wrestling for PA USA Wresting and member of SanctionPA


About SanctionPA
SanctionPA is a nonprofit organization comprised of wrestling leaders in the state of Pennsylvania that are working to grow participation opportunities in the sport of wrestling. Learn more about the SanctionPA at


Media Contact: Leah Wright, 717-315-5472
Twitter: @pa_girlswrestle
Facebook: Pennsylvania Women’s Wrestling
Instagram: @pennwomenswrestling

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