Changes should help speed up the already-rapid growth of girls wrestling


    For the Levenduskys, wrestling is a family affair.

    "I started a youth club in 2011 for my son, Reese," Derek Levendusky explained.

    "They would use me as a dummy," said his daughter, Esther. " At first I hated it. My dad had to pay me to do it."

    But a few dollars later, Esther learned to love it, and is now one of three Levendusky girls who wrestle.

    Esther is now a sophomore at Avon, and one of two girls on the varsity wrestling team there. It's the fourth consecutive year the Avon/Geneseo team has featured at least one female wrestler.

    "I think the biggest thing for us is we don’t treat them any differently from the guys," said wrestling coach and Avon Athletic Director Andrew Englert.

    What's happening at Avon is happening across the country. In 1994, 804 girls were wrestling at the high school level. In 2018, that number had increased to 16,562.

    But in New York State, girls had to wrestle with, and against, the boys. That will change next year when New York State begins sanctioning girls-only events.

    That should only help the sport grow even faster at the local and state level. Levendusky is currently one of about 38 girls competing on varsity teams in Section V. She says more opportunities to wrestle against other females should attract other girls who might be hesitant to join otherwise.

    "If there are more opportunities for there to be girls divisions, especially say if a girls division was put into the state in Albany, it would just be super cool," she said, "...because I could have fair matches all the time. It would definitely help raise awareness for girls wrestling."

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