Winker said that wrestling is fairly popular among girls in Beaver Dam at the youth and middle school levels — “I’d say there’s a fair amount of girls involved but I couldn’t give you exact numbers,” he said — but by the time they get to high school the numbers drop off significantly for one reason or another.
Having a separate state tournament for girls, he thinks, might help retain some of that interest.
And Horicon coach Joe Kern agrees.
“I think the WIAA made a great choice because I do think that in the future it will get some young girls coming through the middle school program to think about sticking with the sport,” said Kern, who added that there are currently four middle school girls in Horicon who are in the youth wrestling program. “It’s very difficult at the high school level for girls to compete.”
Kern pointed to the Marshmen’s recent program history and 2017 graduate Brittany Roser, a talented athlete who qualified for the sectional tournament as a sophomore and also took fourth in the Division 3 girls discus at the WIAA State Track and Field Championships in 2016 and fourth in the D3 shot put in 2017.
“Even though she stuck with it four years and wrestled with us, you could definitely tell it was taking a toll on her,” Kern said of the uneven playing field she competed on, an inherent result of the mixed gender format. “If she had a girls state tournament at the end of the year it may have helped rejuvenate her as far as how she was looking at the sport.”