Weight rules change for H.S. athletes
INDIANAPOLIS – High school wrestlers will have to follow a more stringent program to prevent rapid weight loss under rules adopted this week by the National Federation of State High School Associations.
Starting in 2006-07, wrestlers may not lose more than 1.5 percent of their weight per week and must maintain body fat of at least 7 percent for boys and 12 percent for girls. Also, their weight-loss plans must be monitored weekly by the schools.
The issue surfaced in 1997 after three college wrestlers died as a result of ailments attributed to excessive weight-loss in an attempt to reach a lower weight class for competition. The NCAA clamped down the next year, and since then, high school athletic associations in at least 18 states also have set standards for the amount of weight wrestlers may lose.
“The weight management rule change is certainly monumental, “Dave Carlsrud, chairman of the NFHS wrestling rules committee, said Friday. “While weight management has been researched for many years and may have been passed earlier, a number of our states needed time to prepare for an effective implementation.”
The board of directors of the NFHS also approved reducing the amount of weight wrestlers are permitted to gain during consecutive days of competition. Previously, they were allowed to gain one pound per day. Now, a maximum of two pounds will be allowed, regardless of the number of days of competition.
The rule, along with the one on weight loss, will prevent wrestlers from shedding pounds to reach a lower weight class and then bulking up once the competition has begun.
The action by the NFHS makes the rule mandatory for all its member state associations. The organization represents about 18,000 high schools and some 13 million students in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
NFHS figures for 2003-04, the latest year available, listed 238,700 boys competing in wrestling at 9,526 high schools and 4,008 girls at 808 high schools.
The NFHS also made “communicable skin conditions “a major point of emphasis in wrestling for 2005-06.
The federation did not list specific conditions but urged daily disinfecting of all mats, headgear and shoes, immediate showering and washing of clothes and towels after practice, use of anti-bacterial or deodorant soap when showering, the use of detergent with bleach or drying clothes on “high “setting, and consistent trimming of fingernails.