published Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Wrestling: National Federation of High Schools adjusts weight classes

In this file photo, action from the 2011 TSSAA State Wrestling Championships at the Williamson County Agricultural Exposition Arena in Franklin, Tennessee. Staff File Photo by Robin Rudd/Chattanooga Times Free Press
In this file photo, action from the 2011 TSSAA State Wrestling Championships at the Williamson County Agricultural Exposition Arena in Franklin, Tennessee. Staff File Photo by Robin Rudd/Chattanooga Times Free Press

WEIGHT CLASSES

Old ----- New

103 ----- 106

112 ----- 113

119 ----- 120

125 ----- 126

130 ----- 132

135 ----- 138

140 ----- 145

145 ----- 152

152 ----- 160

160 ----- 170

171 ----- 182

189 ----- 195

215 ----- 220

285 ----- 285

High school wrestlers and their coaches will be adjusting to new weight classes next season.

The National Federation of High Schools made the decision based on data formulated over the last four years by the National Wrestling Coaches Association.

The biggest changes are bumping 103 to 106 and adjustment to the upper weight classes, basically adding a weight classes between 171 and 189 and 189 and 215 pounds.

“The goal was to create weight classes that have approximately seven percent of the wrestlers in each weight class,” said Dale Pleimann, executive director of the federation’s wrestling rules committee.

The upper weight adjustment doesn’t necessarily fit the needs in Tennessee.

“We voted the past two years to leave the weight classes the same,” TSSAA assistant executive director Mark Reeves said. “The reason we voted against the change is a straw poll among our coaches that we had a greater distribution of wrestlers in the middle weights as opposed to the upper end.”

Reeves indicated the change was related to weight management but related more to creating more opportunities for upper weight wrestlers, where there appears to be a trend in nation-wide participation.

“The NWCA data says nationwide that there are more kids in the upper weights,” he said.

There were mixed reviews from local coaches.

“If you look at the [annual] high school nationals at Virginia Beach, you’ll see 100-man brackets from the 125 to 145-pound weight classes and probably 40-man brackets at 103 pounds and 215 and 285,” new Bradley Central coach Ben Smith said. “Think about it. Who wrestles? It’s often the kids who are too short to play basketball and too small to play football.”

Annual state contender Soddy-Daisy had just one 215-pounder and one 285-pounder on its team a year ago and Trojans coach Steve Henry pointed out that his team might have had forfeits at 171 and 189 pounds if wrestlers hadn’t moved into the program.

“People in our state are having too much trouble filling all those [upper] weights,” he said. “We added 215 several years ago to help our football players, but it sure hasn’t helped to get them participating. Our numbers don’t go along with the [national] theory.”

Eric Phillips, whose Cleveland team won the Division I state title, was happy with the status quo but didn’t want to jump too quickly with a criticism.

“I think we have been comfortable with the way the weights were. I can’t image [the NFHS] made the change for the sake of change. They must believe this is going to increase participation. If it enhances the sport, then it’s good. I think everybody is looking at how it affects his lineup right now. I hope the change had nothing to do with weight management. Any time you have weight classes people are going to try and get to the lowest weight class they can,” he said.

He said he likes to think the change might encourage more football players to compete but also said he’d like to think if the change flops that the national federation will revert to the previous weight classes.

There is the question, though, of cooperation between football and wrestling coaches and the sharing of athletes.

“We have a football coach [Damon Floyd] that works great with us,” Smith said. “I have some guys coming out next year that are football players. But if you’re at a school where you can’t get those upper weights you have a problem.”

Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe’s Kenny Hill likes the change.

“It’s still 14 weight classes and I’m looking forward to it. I’m glad they pretty much left the middle weights as they were, but I understand that they’re tweaking in an attempt to make the sport better,” he said.

Hill, though, is unlike many Chattanooga area coaches.

“You’d be amazed but my biggest weight classes [depth-wise] will be 152, 160, 170 and 182, and I have four kids that could wrestle 195 or 220. Now, 285 is where I’m going to be hurting unless I pull one out of the halls,” the former four-time state champ said.

The last wholesale shift in weight classes came in 1998 when the federation bumped the 98-pound weight class to 103. Then in 2002 there was an increase from 13 to 14 weight classes and the 215-pound weight class became mandatory.

about Ward Gossett...

Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...

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