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Group working to bring wrestling to Mississippi high schools

By Jake Thompson’

A group in North Mississippi is working to bring back a sport that has laid dormant among the state’s high schools.

The Mississippi Wrestling Foundation is striving to revive the sport of wrestling and add it back to the athletic calendar come this winter.

In Mississippi, wrestling is sanctioned by the MHSAA, but only two schools participate — The Mississippi School for the Blind and Ocean Springs High School.

According to NCAA studies, wrestling is the seventh-most popular high school boys sport with over 245,000 participants. Women’s wrestling is now an Olympic sport and is the fastest-growing high school sport in the country, with more than 28,000 participants and 29 states that hold sanctioned state tournaments.

The group’s goal is to try and get 15 schools signed up by the next season, which runs concurrently with high school basketball and soccer seasons in Mississippi.

For schools who sign on to add wrestling, the organization will provide mats, which are the most expensive piece of equipment needed. The participating schools’ athletic departments would be responsible for the uniforms and protective headgear.

With the goal of having a MHSAA-sanctioned season come November, schools would need to be signed up and ready to start this summer to allow for proper training of coaches and offseason workouts. The group will help provide all the necessary training needed for coaches and referees.

“We want to put on maybe a tournament, but definitely some coaching clinics (this summer),” Fox said. “As soon as we’ve got our list of schools who want to get certified, same with coaches and referees, we’re going to have really the best in the country come to put on a free clinic to make that happen for us.”

If they are unable to field enough teams for a sanctioned season, Brian Fox of the Mississippi Wrestling Foundation said they are still very interested in having a club-style season, where teams that have been certified could hold meets this winter.