LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Arkansas Wrestling State Tournament has rapidly grown in participation since its inception in 2009. Starting off at 371 wrestlers overall, in 2023 it saw 821 wrestlers statewide flock to Jack Stephens Center.
A stat that pops off the page is this year’s largest growth, 231 girls marking a near-100 increase from the 137 mark set when the girls-only division was created in 2020. Central Arkansas girl wrestlers took center stage Saturday afternoon and thrived.
Led by team captain Vivi Edward and head coach Jerry Evans, Searcy headlined the day by becoming the state’s first girls wrestling team to win back-to-back state titles. Winning it all in class 5A for the third time in four years, all 12 of the Lions’ wrestlers were all-state selections.
“That’s one of our things is leaving a legacy,” Edwards said. “The dynasty of Searcy wrestlers has been a very tough, very tall, very large legacy that I hope for years to come we will fulfill. And I believe they will.”
Sylvan Hills finished second to Searcy in 5A while Northwest Arkansas schools took gold in 6A. Another local highlight came from Bryant senior Presley Givens, who is unbeaten since her sophomore year, won a second consecutive title in the 6A 145 weight class before going on to wrestle collegiately at Oklahoma City University.
“It’s one of our huge priorities as coaches is to grow the sport we’re in,” Coach Evans said. “To see what we’re doing here and to see the crowd that supports them, it’s just amazing.”
Nick Walters was at the Jack to recap the action. See FOX16’s coverage of the girls and boys finals on Final Score this Sunday night at 10.