MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — On Wednesday, the PIAA is set to sanction girls wrestling as an official high school sport in Pennsylvania. Earlier this spring, 100 schools sponsored girls wrestling teams, reaching the PIAA’s threshold to sanction a sport.

Sanctioning the sport will allow the PIAA to host District and State Championships open only to girls, similar to what happens with the boys wrestling tournaments already.

Wrestling is the fastest-growing sport for girls in the United States. Until 100 schools had girls teams, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) was unable to sanction the sport due to the organization’s bylaws.

In February, Pennsylvania crossed that critical 100-school mark.

“Right now. Please don’t stop. Please don’t stop pushing. One hundred isn’t the end. With 472 schools having wrestling in our state, there is room for more,” said Robert Lombardi, PIAA executive director.

It began the process of getting sanctioning approval by the PIAA Board of Directors. The board must process the sanctioning language and rules through a series of three readings. As of Tuesday, May 16, it has passed through two readings.

The PIAA is set to meet for its monthly board meeting on Wednesday, May 17 at 2 in the afternoon.

History of girls wrestling movement in PA

As of January 2023, there are 37 states where girls wrestling is already an official high school sport. According to Wrestle Like a Girl, Pennsylvania would be among the last states in the country to sanction the sport.

The process to get to this point hasn’t been easy for Pennsylvania.

On March 17, 2020, Lancaster school J.P. McCaskey became the first high school in the Commonwealth to sponsor a girls wrestling team.

“I love wrestling because it made me more responsible in school and keeps me motivated to stay consistent,” said Liana Samuel, a J.P. McCaskey wrestler. “It brings out confidence and girls and shows that we can do anything. Our girl’s wrestling team is special because we are a group of diverse girls that love and support each other like we are family.”

Before the 2020-21 winter season, girls who wanted to compete in wrestling at the high school level had to do so on boys teams.

“It’s something that’s a work in progress,” said Gettysburg alum Ella Santoyo. “You’re not going to be great at it the first time but that doesn’t mean that girls can’t try it.”

Sanction PA is a movement to officially recognize girls wrestling and bring more equality and opportunity to high school wrestling.

“We are on now this upward trajectory of growth,” said Brooke Zumas of the Sanction PA group.

For decades there have been individuals working to recognize girls wrestling with little statewide traction. In recent years, those individuals came together to form Sanction PA to increase advocacy efforts for girls wrestlers.

“Those efforts have always been there,” Zumas said. “We have all these people on board, and [January 2020] is when we took a really clear direction in understanding the PIAA bylaws. For a long time, that was the little piece that was lacking.”

“Now we have a goal and we know what to do,” Zumas continued. “We have nine schools right now and we know we have a bunch more in the pipeline. I think there’s a ton of interest beyond that. We’re waiting for certain areas [who] want to see how the team that formed does and what it looks like [this season].”

The PIAA is set to meet for its monthly board meeting on Wednesday, May 17 at 2 in the afternoon. Stay with abc27 for live updates from the meeting and full coverage on abc27 online and on-air.