TAWAS, MI – More than 50 girls were on the mat at Tawas High School for the War of the Roses Michigan Invitational and Open on Jan. 11.
There was one team that seemed to always have a girl on the mat for every match.
That was because the Manistee Wrestling Club brought 12 girls to the War of the Roses all-girls wrestling series tournament.
Brent Harvey started the tournaments as a way for girls to compete against other girls.
In just one year, there have been about 30 competitions in nearly 20 states, with about 1,500 girls participating.
“It comes down to mat time,” said Manistee coach Chris Codden. “I think what Brent offers with War of the Roses – it gives the girls a chance to get on the mat.”
Manistee actually has 17 girls on their wrestling team, Codden said.
More girls started joining Manistee’s team in 2005 when Codden’s daughter started wrestling.
Codden said it’s important that girls take time out from their high school, middle school or youth season to compete in girls- only tournaments.
“It makes us get a little tougher against the boys,” he said.
Parents and coaches are always encouraged to set up exhibition matches during War of the Roses tournaments.
“I think the biggest thing is the promotion and the mat time,” Codden said. “I think once the girls take ownership, the rest will come to them. That’s why we’re trying to lobby the (Michigan High School Athletic Association) to keep improving wrestling for girls.”
The next tournaments in the War of the Roses all-girls wrestling series is Feb. 7 with tournaments in Georgia and Wisconsin, then Feb. 15 with events in Michigan and New Jersey.
Dominic Adams is a journalist and wrestling coach based in Fenton, Mich. He can be reached via email here.