Gettysburg Area School District approved plans Monday night to launch and fund a girls’ wrestling program. The school is the eighth in Pennsylvania to sanction a girls’ team.
The Warriors claim one of the nation’s best girls’ wrestlers in senior Montana DeLawder, and they have long been on the forefront of girls’ participation under coach Chris Haines. DeLawder is the first girl to ever qualify for the District 3 championships, and she goes into her senior season ranked No. 2 in the nation at 127 pounds, according to Team USA Wrestling.
“The approving of a girls team here at Gettysburg means the world to not only me, but the past and present girls that have been in this program,” DeLawder said. “Gettysburg wrestling has had such a huge impact on my life, and I am very excited for the girls that will get to take advantage of this opportunity in the future. I am very grateful that girls will now be able to have the experiences I have had, but this time in a league of their own.”
Gettysburg is the eighth program to move forward with a plan to offer girls’ wrestling, half of which have come from District 3. Annville-Cleona and Governor Mifflin approved girls’ wrestling programs on Sept. 21, and JP McCaskey was the state’s first to move forward with a team. North Allegheny, Easton, Executive Education Academy and Central Mountain also approved teams.
Haines indicated this spring that launching an official girls’ program was just a matter of timing and getting in front of the school board through the challenges of a pandemic. He and his program also rolled to a perfect regular season record last season and won a District 3 Class 3A team title for the first time since 1999.
“Gettysburg wrestling has been involved in girls’ wrestling for many years and to have a girls team recognized and sanctioned is overwhelming,” Haines said. “We are looking forward to helping lead the way for the sanctioning of girls wrestling by the PIAA and helping to further advance girls wrestling throughout the country.”
With an assist from the Pennsylvania Girls High School Wrestling Task Force, eight programs have been approved since March.
The task force has a stated goal of reaching 25 teams this academic year and to start making a hard push toward 100 teams, which is the minimum number of programs required for the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association to consider sanctioning it.
In order to get to the finish line, school districts must approve separate schedules, designate a head coach and commit to using at least half of the PIAA’s allotted competition points.