Quakertown to start girls wrestling team

Coach Kurt Handel is optimistic about the Panthers' prospects with the fastest-growing sport in the country.
Posted on 10/11/2022
An image with the Quakertown logo that says the high school is the 62nd to begin a girls wrestling team in Pennsylvania.By Gary Weckselblatt

Quakertown Community High School has often had girls compete on its boys’ wrestling team. This year, however, the Panthers will be one of approximately 70 schools in Pennsylvania to field a varsity girls' wrestling team.

“This is a first for us, and we’re excited about it,” wrestling coach Kurt Handel said. “It’s going to take time for the sport to grow. We just have to build the numbers. I do expect it to be a very successful program.”

Girls' wrestling is the fastest-growing high school sport in the country, according to SanctionPA, an organization that advocates for the sport. In Pennsylvania, girls' wrestling has been given Emerging Sport Status by the PIAA. Several schools in geographic proximity to Quakertown girls wrestling. Souderton began its girls' wrestling team a year ago and Palisades last February. Easton and Parkland also have teams. More recently, Boyertown, Bensalem, Truman, William Tennent and North Penn will have a girls' varsity for the first time.

Coach Handel said he has six girls who will compete this year and another four with mixed martial arts training who have expressed an interest by attending “Girls Giving Wrestling A Try” practices each week. One freshman, Caroline Hattala, is expected to participate in boys’ competitions because of her skills.

There are also rising stars at the middle school level in Strayer’s Cadence Jozefowski and the Sixth Grade Center’s Mackenzie Gappa, who have been successful in state and national competitions. In the youth ranks, Coach Handel said there are at least a dozen girls competing.

“I see this as a great addition for us,” Athletic Director Sylvia Kalazs said. “We have a wrestling youth program that has girls participating. And there are more girls on the way up.”

QCHS is seeking an assistant coach to focus on the girls’ team. Those interested should contact Coach Handel at [email protected]. These are the qualifications and responsibilities for the position.

College opportunities for female wrestlers are growing. There are more than 115 varsity college women’s programs, including nine in Pennsylvania: Alvernia, Cedar Crest, Delaware Valley, East Stroudsburg, Gannon, Lackawanna, Lock Haven, Ursinus, and York.

“There are many opportunities for scholarships,” Coach Handel said.

Gary Weckselblatt, QCSD Director of Communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at 215-529- 2028 or [email protected].
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