High school girls wrestling could soon become a sanctioned sport in Kansas.
The Kansas State High School Athletic Association (KSHSAA) is expected to vote in April of 2019 to decide on the change.
Mya Kretzer, 18, is a star athlete and wrestler at McPherson High School.
“I have two older brothers. Then, I have a twin brother, and I have grown up my whole life with them wrestling,” Mya said.
Mya took a liking to the sport in middle school after she said she was bullied.
“I just kind of wanted a life-changing event to happen,” she said. “I told my parents I wanted to go out for wrestling and they were like, ‘no. you’re not’ and I was like, ‘watch me.'”
Since then, the high school senior has taken down one opponent after another. She has earned top spots at the national and international level. Mya was recently awarded a scholarship to wrestle at Baker University.
“I was just like, I’m going to go into practice and like learn something and just be really good at it,” Mya said. “It’s just been really rewarding.”
Mya’s passion and worth ethic has become a driving force for girls wrestling in Kansas.
“She is pretty special. She has broken a lot of barriers and it hasn’t been easy. Her persistency, her true love for the support, her desire to grow within it is gravitational and it affects multiple people in multiple towns,” said McPherson High School Head Wrestling Coach and Mya’s dad Doug Kretzer.
In 2017, there were about 112 girls in Kansas competing at the high school level. That number increased to 376 girls in 2019. Fifteen of the girls are on the McPherson team.
“Over the last three years, we have had a huge change in the participation levels. It’s the fastest growing sport in the nation,” Doug explained. “These girls have brought something to this team that was missing.”
However, there is still something missing for the girls, according to Mya and Doug. Right now, girls wrestling is not sanctioned in the state which means they must compete against the boys.
“They have no specific division that allows them to wrestle against other girls to determine where they are in a pecking order of a state series,” Doug said. “It takes a special girl right now to come out here and wrestle with no guarantees of competing for a state championship.”
“It’s really hard, honestly. It’s hard to wrestle guys when they have the muscle mass on you,” explained Mya.
Despite the muscle mass, Mya has proven she can keep up with the boys. She credits the sport of wrestling for the strong woman she has become.
“We are strong, determined women that can do just as many things that men can do,” Mya said.
The KSHSAA said if it votes to sanction girls wrestling in the state, girls would compete against other girls for a state championship as soon as the 2019, 2020 wrestling season.