Some years ago, a former school official at an area school saw me, chuckled and said, "If you write a column saying my school should have a girls wrestling team, I know where you live."
He was joking, of course. I didn't end up writing such a column, but I found nothing wrong with any school having a full-fledged girls wrestling team.
Girls wrestling had already had a foothold in the area by then, and the sport has grown steadily since.
in the Santa Maria Valley, Pioneer Valley, Righetti and Santa Maria have had full-fledged girls wrestling programs for years. I think that's all to the good.
Nipomo does not have a full-strength girls wrestling team this year, but Titans' squads in the recent past have had some good succees. There have been some prominent St. Joseph girls wrestlers in the recent past as well.
Before Pioneer Valley joined the majority of area sports programs who left the CIF Southern Section for the Central Section, the Panthers won the sectional Northern Regional, the qualifier for the Southern Section Finals, each of the several years it was held.
I never noticed a banner at the school honoring those teams (maybe I've missed it), and I never could figure out why. I know the meet was simply a qualifier for the sectional finals, but there was a lot of quality wrestling at those girls regional championships, and I think winning a regional title is a significant accomplishment.
While they didn't win team titles, Righetti, Nipomo and Santa Maria showed pretty well in girls regional competition the past few years.
Actually, I would go so far as to say that when it comes to success in sectional competition, girls wrestling stacks up favorably with a lot of other sports programs in the area.
In a lot of cases, participation in a pricey off-season club program is a de facto reequirement to simply make a high school team in certain sports. Girls wrestling (boys wrestling, too, for that matter) seems to be one of the more democratic sports out there when it comes to affordability.
The days when most girls who were interested in wrestling would have to go against boys because that was their only chance to compete are, happily, long gone.
As more and more parents (and youngsters) are becoming more and more wary of the head injuries in football, and the cost of club programs simply pricing many families out of the competitive sports market in those sports, look for the more low-cost sports to continue to thrive.
The state of girls wrestling in the area is abundantly healthy, and I don't see that situation changing.