For the first time, girls wrestlers will get to wrestle in their own bracket starting in the 2018-19 season.

During last month’s elections, the Missouri State High School Activities Association passed a proposal to make a separate division for girls in the postseason. There were 202 votes for and 41 against. The change will go into effect on July 1.

Missouri is the ninth state to make high school girls wrestling available, according to teamusa.org.

MSHSAA Communications Director Jason West said the idea had been discussed for the past couple of years due to the increase in participation from female wrestlers. Last season, there were 108 Missouri schools that had at least one girl on the wrestling eligibility roster.

“It wasn’t just at the school level. But the coaches and team members at the club level saw more and more participation (from girls) there,” West said. “That’s when all of this really got some momentum.”

During the regular season, for the first two years, the girls can still compete with the boys in duals and tournaments, as it will be unlikely that there we be a lot of girls exclusive tournaments, according to West.

“Especially with this being in the first year, most of the tournament days have already been set for next year,” West said. “There’s not going to be too many all girls tournaments. Girls can help fill up a boys lineup, though.”

The girls will have their own bracket during districts and the Missouri State High School Wrestling Championships. The girls district tournaments will take place a week prior to the boys tournament and there likely will be two districts, said West. The girls brackets for the state competition will be on the same weekend as the boys, meaning there will be a girls state champion and boys champion in each weight class.

West said he anticipates that there will be fewer weight classes for the girls.