This month we have seen some outstanding wrestling including the NCAA Division I finals and the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic (PWC), formerly the Dapper Dan, in the past two weeks. Our friends over at LevelChanger.com scored both with their Takedown App and provided us with the scoring data. Today we’ll go through that data to see what looks the same and what looks a little different at the highest levels of college wrestling when compared to the high school ranks.
D1 Finals: 7 decisions, 1 major, 1 tech, 1 fall in 10 matches
PWC: 8 decisions, 3 majors, 2 falls in 13 matches
Given that the PWC, which attempts to pit the top senior from PA against the top senior from the rest of the country, doesn’t necessarily feature the best two wrestlers, you would expect more bonus points and that was the case this year. However, the D1 finals matches don’t always feature the top two seeds either and the rates aren’t too different overall given the small sample size. It is interesting to note that each of the three falls across the two events came in competitive matches. Each of those bouts was within one point before the final sequence resulted in the fall.
Points Per Minute
D1 Finals: 111 points in 68:25, 1.622 PPM
PWC: 143 points in 71:48, 1.992 PPM
The shorter high school matches and earlier falls keep the overall length of time close despite there being more matches at the PWC, but the high school grapplers still outscore their counterparts in spite of only getting three points for a full set of nearfall. Six of the 26 PWC competitors double-digit digit points, including both Jacob Oliver (Huntingdon, PA) and Jake Allar (St. Michael Albertville, MN) in the 16-11 thriller at 160, while only two of the 20 D1 finalists did. The PWC was wrestled with college out of bounds rules which helped on at least one occasion that I noticed.
D1 Finals: 30 TD, 34 E, 0 NF2, 3 NF4, 0 R, 2 P, 3 RT
PWC: 42 TD, 42 E, 3 NF2, 2 NF3, 2 R, 1 P
The extra scoring by the PWC participants was done in neutral. With 12 additional takedowns in just 3:23 of match time more than the D1 finalists, this is where we see the separation. Nearfall ended up being exactly equal points wise, though it came from just one wrestler at the college level, Zain Retherford (Penn State), while five different matches featured near fall at the PWC. If high school had riding time, you could add six more points to their total as well.
Matches Within 2 in the 3rd Period
D1 Finals: 6 of 10
PWC: 6 of 13
Only one match across both competitions, again Oliver and Allar, began the third-period with a margin greater than two points only to see the lead shrink to within that margin. Allar cut the deficit to 13-11 before Oliver scored the final three points. There were very few matches in either event that were out of hand entering the final frame. No one at the D1 finals held a lead larger than five points while the PWC had a six and eight point margin as well as the two matches that didn’t make it that far. This is another stat that speaks to the PWC having a bit larger ability gap between their competitors in certain matches. This could also account for the additional scoring.
3rd Period Comebacks
D1 Finals: 1
Considering how many close matches there were, it is a bit surprising that only one wrestler who trailed in the final two minutes, Cory Clark (Iowa) who fell behind Seth Gross (South Dakota State), 3-2, before finding the winning takedown, came back to win. There were also no overtime matches in either event.
Overall, comparing 10 matches from one level to 13 of another isn’t really enough to make many definitive statements. However, on the surface, this data appears to support a few theories that I believe to be true. One, that the difference in ability levels, even among the top guys, in high school is greater than in college. Two, a disparity in talent level usually leads to more scoring and additional bonus points. The wrestlers in the D1 finals that scored the most, Retherford and Jason Nolf (Penn State), have both developed a wide gap between themselves and the competition. It is no surprise, then, that they score a lot. A gap in ability certainly isn’t the only factor in determining scoring, but it is a factor. As those gaps close, such as when wrestlers move from high school to college, it is natural for scoring to drop a bit.