Over 150 teams set to compete in one of the nation’s largest tournaments
Roseville, Calif. – More than 150 college, high school and middle school wrestling teams – and almost 1,250 wrestlers – will compete Friday (Dec. 15) and Saturday (Dec. 16) during the seventh annual Women’s West Coast Tournament of Champions at the Roebbelen Center in Roseville.
The two-day girls’ and women’s wrestling tournament – the largest in the nation not connected to a national tournament – starts noon Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday at the Roebbelen Center located on @the Grounds campus, 700 Event Center Drive in Roseville.
The Cliff Keen-sponsored West Coast Tournament of Champions allows middle school-to-college wrestlers to compete before the holiday break and gives fans a chance to catch one of the fastest-growing women’s sports in the nation.
“It’s the best of the best” wrestlers in the West, said tournament director Don Martinez, head coach of the Sierra College men’s wrestling team.
Local teams and colleges
At least 15 colleges and more than 100 high schools – including almost all Sacramento-area high schools with girls’ wrestling teams, from Florin and Folsom to Pioneer in Woodland and West Park in Roseville – will compete in the tournament.
Teams from Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Washington and as far away as Michigan are traveling to the tournament, helping fill hotels and restaurants – and generating about $1 million for the Placer Valley economy during what is often a slower period for the tourism industry. About 2,500 people, from athletes and coaches to fans, are expected for the tournament.
“The tournament just keeps getting bigger and better every year,” said Kim Summers, CEO of Placer Valley Tourism and @the Grounds. “It helps boost business, showcases the region and features one of the fastest-growing sports.”
Indeed, girl’s and women’s wrestling has caught the attention of athletes, fans – and schools.
On the rise
Almost 50,000 girls compete in high school wrestling nationwide, a dramatic increase from fewer than 1,000 in 1994, according to the National Wrestling Coaches Association.
“It’s blowing up right now,” said Patrick Rogers, head wrestling coach for Roseville High School. The high school’s wrestling program has eight girls, with two expected to participate in the tournament, including a state qualifier from last year. “It’s growing at a good pace. In the next 10 years, it should be full force.”
Wrestling offers a “great atmosphere … and environment,” from the camaraderie and support of teammates to the music played at practices, Rogers said.
“It’s evolved so much,” Martinez said. “Girls are wrestling at such a young age.”
More than 30 middle schools will participate this year in the West Coast Tournament of Champions – more than triple the number of teams just a few years ago.
Many of those girls will continue the sport in high school and some through college. More than 150 colleges – from pint-sized schools to well-known universities – have women’s wrestling teams, a 50% increase in less than a decade. More women in college compete in the sport than crew (rowing), fencing, rugby or sand volleyball.
So, wrestlers will compete for individual awards and team titles during the tournament – and some will also vie for the attention of college coaches and recruiters with women’s wrestling programs.
“They’re learning the sport the same as the men, and the girls are working just as hard,” Martinez said. “It’s really catching on.”
The Women’s West Coast Tournament of Champions started in 2016 and was first held at the Hardwood Palace in Rocklin. The fast-growing tournament moved to the much-larger Roebbelen Center – able to accommodate 12 full-length basketball courts – in 2021.
Tickets & Parking
The tournament will have 14 wrestling mats in a horseshoe shape but could accommodate several more, giving the Women’s West Coast Tournament of Champions room to expand and keep pace down the road. A one-day pass for the tournament is $15 for adults and $10 for students through high school. Only cash is accepted. Parking is $10 per day @the Grounds.
“We really like fans to come out and show how far women have progressed in the sport,” Martinez said.