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NMAA takes step toward sanctioning girls wrestling

While the future of the state spirit competition remains in limbo, the same cannot be said for girls wrestling, which is hurtling forward.

The members of the New Mexico Activities Association’s Commission on Wednesday moved the state much closer to making girls wrestling an officially sanctioned sport.

New Mexico would be the 17th state to make this happen.

The Commission vote was not unanimous. Rio Rancho Public Schools athletic director Larry Chavez suggested keeping it an exhibition sport for one more season, saying there may be some schools that need time to adjust their budgets accordingly.

With this hurdle cleared, now it’s the NMAA’s board of directors that will have final say over this when it convenes June 13. If they vote in favor, girls wrestling will have its first state tournament in February, in conjunction with the boys.

“The time has come,” the NMAA director of wrestling, Scott Owen, told the Commission.

With over 160 girls in the pool last season, and that number expected to increase – perhaps substantially so with an official state tournament on the verge of being instituted – here is how it would be organized:

• Girls will qualify for state via one of two regional qualifying tournaments, and schools will be aligned regionally (rather than by district), with 30 in the North and 33 in the South, but possibly with more to be added;

• Each region will qualify four girls per weight to state;

• At state, the top three finishers will receive medals, and the top three teams will receive trophies;

• Girls can compete in boys’ events during the regular season, but must compete in the girls tournament at state.

Among New Mexico schools, Highland (by far, with 21) had the most girls participating in wrestling last season. Next was Chaparral with 10, then Atrisco Heritage with nine. The girls have had an exhibition state tournament in conjunction with the boys the last two seasons.

A survey of schools conducted by the NMAA shows that nearly 88 percent approve of girls wrestling becoming an official sport. There are, the NMAA said, more than double the amount of girls wrestling in New Mexico (165) than there were just two years ago (79).


SPIRIT: In a discussion item only, NMAA executive director Sally Marquez threw out some possibilities: keep the status quo, turn it into an exhibition, return cheer and dance back to an activity, or suspend offending teams who aren’t following sportsmanship initiatives.

It was that final thing that had Marquez ready to pull the plug on the 2020 event in the weeks that followed this year’s event at Dreamstyle Arena – the Pit.

SOCCER: If the schools agree (it’s being sent out to a vote), then there will be an All-Star prep game during the 2019-20 school year, probably a week after the state tournaments end. There would be four regional teams who’d square off Friday, with the winners and losers to play on Saturday.

MORE SOCCER: From now on, regular-season tournament games that are decided in penalty kicks will be recorded as an outright win or loss for the teams involved. For the last couple of years, such games were considered ties. This, too, would be part of referenda if the board follows the Commission.

ALSO: Commission member Buster Mabrey made the suggestion that the ranking should be used as the only source to select and seed teams in the major sports. … Golf in the near future could be reduced to just two classes, in light of the very low number of boys and girls (34) who qualified for this year’s Class 1A-3A state tournament in Hobbs. … The NMAA is taking steps to beef up the penalty/suspension for athletes who basically commit battery against someone. It would include missing 15 percent of that sport’s game limitation, with the number rounded up. The NMAA wants to create a stiffer penalty than just an ejection.

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