By Todd Irwin
Girls wrestling has been gaining momentum in Pennsylvania in recent years thanks to the Sanction PA movement. High schools throughout the state have begun adding girls programs.
Northern Bedford became the 36th school in the state to add girls wrestling on April 12. The Panthers are the second team in District 5 to add girls wrestling, joining Chestnut Ridge, which became the 24th school to form a girls program on Nov. 21 of 2021.
For Northern Bedford, it was just a natural progression of what it already had.
“A few years ago, Dave and Jen Fouse talked about adding a girls program to the elementary,” Northern Bedford coach Brian Dutchcot said. “They wanted to make it more comfortable for the girls to get a little more participation. It really took off at Northern. They had a lot of girls participating.
“As they’ve gotten older, they kept with the sport. As they’ve gone through, they’ve been competing at higher levels, doing different things in different areas. We’ve had girls qualify for PJWs. We’ve had girls wrestle in the MYHouse state championship, with Jordyn Fouse winning a state championship this year.”
“I am more than excited for us to get it,” Jordyn Fouse said. “I cannot wait to see how this will grow Northern Bedford women’s wrestling. I’ve been wanting this since I can remember. Just finally getting this team is just a dream. I cannot wait to see how it grows and all the little girls than can see how awesome the sport is like I got to experience.”
While it is exciting for those schools who have added girls teams, the PIAA hasn’t swayed from its decision to not sanction the sport until 100 schools have added the sport. That means there won’t be any PIAA postseason until the magic number of 100 is met.
“I can’t personally imagine it happening while I’m still in high school,” Fouse said. “It has been growing very fast in the past, but I’m just hoping to spread the word, get as many teams as we can and for the generations below me to experience this awesome sport.”
“The plan is they’re still going to be with us in the wrestling room,” Dutchcot said. “They’ll continue to do what we’ve been working on the last couple years. The girls in our junior high program practice with our junior high wrestlers. They’re competing in the starting lineup.
“Some girls worked their way into our lineup this year, and they’ll continue to do that for us. With regard to the girls program, now it gives them that option to be a part of Northern Bedford when they wrestle in an all girls wrestling tournament or event.
“We’re still working on the dual meet aspect of it. We’re still in communication as to how we’re going to manage that situation, and how we’ll get dual meets with other girls programs throughout Western Pennsylvania.”
Jordyn Fouse has been an important reason why the Panthers have added the sport. Fouse went 14-14 with eight pins as a freshman 126-pounder on the boys team this past season, with eight of those wins coming against boys. Two other girls wrestled a combined 14 bouts for Northern Bedford.
“My freshman year, I learned a lot wrestling guys,” Fouse said. “I didn’t realize how strong they were going to be. I got many experiences up my sleeve, and I’m really excited to see how this summer goes and next season. I’m very hungry. I cannot wait for next season to come.”
“Jordyn is the trailblazer,” Dutchcot said. “She definitely has raised the bar. She set the bar very high. I think a lot of freshmen would be very happy with (the 14-14 record). Many coaches, parents, spectators, and even referees and officials came up and mentioned her dedication, commitment and mental toughness in being out there and competing against boys.”
Shortly after the high season ended, Fouse captured a state title at 130 at the MYHouse Girls State Wrestling Championships on March 13 at Central Dauphin High School.
Fouse went 4-0 in the tournament at 130 with two pins, a 13-2 major decision in the semifinals and a 9-0 major decision over Kayla Husti-Luca in the finals. At the same event, Chestnut Ridge’s Patron Plummer won her second straight title.
“That was very important to me,” Fouse said. “That’s been a goal for a long time.”
Fouse has won or placed in numerous state and national tournaments. She won titles at the Keystone State Championships and Tulsa Girls Nationals as an eighth-grader.
“Everything she gets, she works for,” Dutchcot said. “She’s definitely one of the hardest workers in the wrestling room.
“She’ll come to our practice, and then she’ll go seek out other practices as well. She seeks out other areas of training – not only wrestling, but she’ll work on conditioning and strength training with other groups and other members to get better. She just works constantly.”
Northern Bedford’s Raegan Snider finished sixth at 136 at the MyHouse tournament. She was also a runner-up in the girls division of the PJW State Championships on March 4.
Dutchcot said Fouse, Snider and any other girl would be permitted to wrestle for the boys program and the girls program.
“I spoke to Coach (Biff) Walizer (Central Mountain) last year, and I sat at one of the sanction PA meetings, and we’ve been throwing out some ideas,” Dutchcot said.
“It’s just one of those things where we’ll work together and we’ll figure it out. That’s one thing I love about the wrestling community. You sit down and you figure things out. Things get done.”