Charleston’s Alaynia and Madaline Bryant each advanced to last year’s IWCOA fresh-soph state girls wrestling tournament.

It appears Illinois will become the 26th state to create a girls state wrestling championship.

On June 15, the IHSA board approved a recommendation to start an individual state tournament, beginning 2021-22.

Four days earlier, South Dakota approved a similar resolution for 2021-22.

Hawaii started the first girls wrestling championships in 1998, followed the next year by Texas. Since then, the following state associations have also followed suit: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Washington

The dates, location and structure of the event have not yet been determined.

Girls have always had to wrestle against boys through the season although the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association have held a girls-only state-level meet since 2017.

According to IHSA records, interest in wrestling has doubled the past few years, a reason the board voted unanimously to create this new sports championship event.

“I commend the (IHSA) Board on their vision to further the IHSA mission by continuing to seek out more participation opportunities for high school students in Illinois,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said in a statement. “Participation in high school girls wrestling has grown significantly over the past few years, and we expect this announcement will only help increase that momentum here in Illinois. Our staff will use the lead time in the 2020-21 school year to best decide how the IHSA Girls Wrestling State Series fits within the current wrestling state series structure, including the dates and locations of each level of the tournament.”