Girls wrestling gets a big intro with the Central Iowa Kickoff Tournament

Stepping inside Nevada High School’s field home on Saturday, you couldn’t help but feel the excitement and energy.

The Central Iowa Kickoff Tournament featured high school girls’ wrestling in its first season as a sanctioned sport in Iowa. 29 teams lined up in front of a gym that was filled with an energetic crowd all day waiting for the girls’ wrestling to get the 2022-23 season off to a rousing start.

“It’s amazing to be able to do something this big,” said Ames wrestler Allison Metschke. “There were almost 300 girls here, that’s crazy.”

More:Schools in the Ames area are poised to begin the first season of sanctioned girl wrestling in Iowa

Girls’ wrestling in Iowa has come a long way in recent years. A few years ago, the girls had to compete on the boys’ teams and struggle to find wrestlers who could fill in the girls’ tournaments that they could work on during the season.

It was difficult to find a vacancy in the Nevada High School fieldhouse on Saturday.

“To see everyone and get sanctioned is really exciting,” said Gilbert wrestler Alex Harswick. “I’m really excited to see what the future holds for girls’ wrestling.”

Gilbert's Alex Harswick defeats Nevada's Hayden Walters during their 145-pound bout at Saturday's Central Iowa Kickoff Girls Wrestling Tournament at Nevada High School Field House.

All four Ames-area girls’ wrestling programs — Ames, Ballard, Gilbert and Nevada — attended Saturday’s celebrations in Nevada. Nevada Wrestling Coach Head Girl Tawnia Leslie, Athletic Director Dustin Smith and several volunteers and helpers all gave their all to make the tournament a great success.

“It’s a big deal,” Leslie said. “We had a lot of help. The ECS (East Central Story Wrestling Club) came in and helped us run it. Many parents came and helped us. Dustin Smith, our AD, did an excellent job of setting it all up and I think it all went pretty smoothly.”