photo courtesy of Marc Billett; PaPowerWrestling.com
A massive change could be coming to the world of high school wrestling and it could be coming fairly soon. On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association control board passed the wrestling committee’s proposal to reduce the weight classes from 14 to 12 for the 2020-21 season.
The board will now advance the proposal to the National Federation of State High School Associations in hopes it will approve the change. Should the change be denied, it will ask the NFHS board to allow the PIAA to launch a pilot program that would then be adopted down the line.
As most of you know, the current weight classes are: 106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 182, 195, 220 and 285.
Under the new proposal, the weights in PA would be: 110, 118, 125, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 190, 215 and 285.
The rule intends to limit forfeits in dual meets and to increase fan interest in the sport at lower levels according to Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League wrestling chairman Frank Vulcano Jr. While many have lauded the move for its potential improvements to the sports watchability, it hasn’t come without criticism. Many Pennsylvania coaches feel the change will take away opportunities from wrestlers looking to compete and wrestlers who they think could be champions if the weights remain unchanged.
Coach Scott Green of Wyoming Seminary, which is located in PA but not eligible to compete in PIAA postseason events, proposed 11 weights for duals and 15 for individual tournaments as well as multiple entries per weight in the postseason.
Additionally, the proposed changes have led to concern over weight separation and potentially issues with drastic cutting. The lightest weight being 110 has led to many suggesting that it’s too heavy and would drastically limit the opportunities of small wrestlers, particularly underclassmen. There’s also been concern over the 20-pound jump from 170 to 190, with some saying it would cause wrestlers caught in the middle to cut unhealthy amounts of weight to try to make the lower of the two.
But this wasn’t the only proposal. There was also talk of removing the 2-pound allowance given to wrestlers in the middle of the year. The suggestion is due to the notion that rather than making it safer for wrestlers, it incentivizes wrestlers to attempt to cut down to a lower weight class.
The biggest question that now remains, in addition to whether the new proposal will gain favor with the NFHS, is how many states will follow. Currently, most states follow the 14 NFHS weight classes while New York adds a 99-pound division and Michigan uses the old NFHS weights which were changed following the 2010-11 season.
It stands to reason that if the NFHS board approves the new changes that most states will follow, but with the current weight classes only having come into a play less than a decade ago, there’s no guarantee.
So what do you think? Do we need a change or are the current classes the best way to go?