The End Zone Seat: New Wrestling Weights Raise Concerns
When the National Federation of State High School Associations announced the first major changes in varsity wrestling weights in many years last week, there were some raised eyebrows.
The new weight classes, which have yet to be approved by the PIAA, slated to begin with the 2011-2012 season are 106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 182, 195, 220 and 285 pounds.
In recent years, the weight classes were 103, 112, 119, 125, 130, 135, 140, 145, 152, 160, 171, 189, 215 and 285 pounds.
Personally, I know I’m going to carry around a cheat sheet for the first two months of the season before I get the new weights memorized.
And I’m sure many fans will feel the same way.
But that’s not what has the wrestling faithful scratching their heads, including Wyalusing Valley head coach Gary Haley.
Before getting to any negatives, there is one very positive point to the new weights.
Everyone who has followed the sport in recent years knows that 103 pounds was easily the most forfeited weight class.
Haley agrees that raising the lowest weight class is a positive move.
“I think raising 103 to 106 is not a bad idea,” he said. “It is becoming harder and harder to find kids to fill that weight class.”
While there may be more wrestlers available to wrestle at 106 pounds, it is very much in doubt whether adding another weight class at the upper level won’t be just as big a problem.
If there were any weight classes harder to fill than 103, it has been 215 and 285 in recent years.
Haley noted when the 215-pound weight class was added several years ago, “it spread guys out more into two weights rather than one and thus weakened the overall quality.”
He believes this will do the same.
“I do not like this idea,” he said.
Even during the post-season individual tournaments, there is very little quality depth at 215 and 285 pounds.
Haley has witnessed that first hand.
While Wyalusing, a Class AA school, has been able to field full squads through the years, the depth at the two or three heaviest weights has been paper thin with boys who should be wrestling at 215 having to move up to 285, facing wrestlers in districts or regionals with as much as 90-pound weight advantages.
He suspects that even larger Class AAA schools will also have difficulty filling that higher weight class.
“I did talk to my brother, who coaches at Class AAA Boyertown, and he feels the same way.”
To make it worse, the Federation basically took one of the most competitive weight classes in the 140-145 pound range and moved it at the top in the 182-195 area.
“I believe the middle weights are the most competitive classes there are,” Haley said.
Besides having the fullest and deepest fields at tournaments, the middleweights also provide the most entertaining and action-filled bouts.
I don’t know too many wrestling fans who would say they’d rather watch a couple of 285-pounders in what my old boss Bob Baker used to call the “big sweaty dance,” over a couple of skilled middleweights going at it hammer and tongs on the mat.
“They are the most entertaining to watch.”
If Haley had his preference, he would have simply eliminated a weight class, rather than just move one up to a higher weight.
Ram Grappler Honored
Haley also noted that Tyler Thompson, a Wyalusing Valley junior, was named to the PIAA Wrestling Coaches’ All-Academic Honorable Mention list.
Eastern National Results
Six Wyalusing wrestlers placed at the Mid Atlantic Wrestling Association Eastern National Championships last weekend. The tournament was held on April 30 and May 1 at the Wicomico Civic Center in Salisbury, MD.
Collin Edsell had the highest local finish, placing third in the Intermediate, 95-pound weight class.
Clayton Force and Dylan Otis each finished fifth in their respective divisions. Force competed in the Elite division at 285 pounds, while Otis was in the Advanced division at 215 pounds.
Creighton Edsell and Dan Frankenfield both finished seventh. Edsell was in the Junior 82-pound weight class. Frankenfield competed at 171 pounds in the Elite division.
Tim Kuntz finished eighth in the Elite division’s 145-pound weight class.
Several other wrestlers from neighboring school districts also placed. They included, with finish, division and weight in parentheses: Dushore’s Shawn Nitcznski (6th, Advanced, 110); Monroeton’s Ben Lamphere (8th, Elite, 108); Rome’s Zack Green (3rd, Elite, 130); Towanda’s Cooper Chilson (3rd, Midget, 66); Tunkhannock’s Ray Yagloski (4th, Open, 125) and Wysox’s Dakotah Manning (5th, Intermediate, 175) and Aiden Chilson (7th, Bantam, 93).