Fewer Weight Classes = Better Wrestling?

I know there are schools that struggle to field a complete team. (Peggy
just told us about the 13-minute dual, brief in large part to so many

But cutting opportunities goes against every thought I have about how
to make the sport more successful.

You may have another idea. Whatever your opinion, weigh in please!

From the Allentown (PA) Morning Call

Fewer weight classes = better wrestling

Just 10 days into the 2004-05 scholastic wrestling season, and I’m as
sick of the 14 weight classes of high school wrestling as I am of
listening to the ”Twelve Days of Christmas.”

Not that there’s any humbug in that. Both surely have their proponents,
but they’re not my cup of Joe.

The 14-weight-class lineup is two too many. Sure, the setup allows
coaches to put a lot of kids onto the mats, but it borders on the
insane when you take a look at team depth and team success.

Top teams like Easton, Nazareth, Northampton, Emmaus, Pleasant Valley,
Northern Lehigh, Wilson and others are fielding a quality 14. But many
teams are struggling to put an able-bodied wrestler at every weight.

Palisades, for example, under first-year coach Jason Gilligan, can
basically write off its dual-meet season. Gilligan is the type of
individual who can turn around the Pirates’ fortunes, but in the
Colonial League opener against Catasauqua last Wednesday, Palisades had
to forfeit eight weight classes.

”Some teams, you show up for the team and you make the varsity lineup
just because you can make the weight,” explained former Northampton
coach Don Rohn, who still helps out at Northampton and actively follows
the scholastic wrestling scene.

Ryan Nunamaker, the first-year coach at Parkland, would like to see the
starting lineup size driven down to 12. The PIAA, adopting national
high school federation rules a few years ago, mandated the shift to 14
weight classes from 13. Many felt it was the wrong direction at that
time as well.

”My idea would be to somehow make it comparable to the 10 college
weights,” Nunamaker said, ”and then before 125 , have 118 and 110.”

What borders on the ridiculous is that scholastic wrestling starts at
103, jumps up by nine pounds to 112, seven to 119, six to 125 and then
goes by five pounds through 145 before going up seven pounds to 152.

From 112 through 152, there are currently eight weight classes. That’s
too many. Going by eight-pound increments would switch that to six
weight classes.

”I think that with 12 weight classes,” Nunamaker said, ”the kids
would be more competitive. There wouldn’t be so many transfers because
spots would be tougher to get. It’s tough to keep up with the top teams
because they have more depth. It will make for more competitive matches
with less weight classes.”

Cement Town dust: Cumberland Valley’s Ryan Williams finished seventh in
the state last season and came to the Lehigh Valley last Saturday to
gauge where he was at for the start of wrestling season in the Cement
Town Duals at Northampton.

He went back home, near Harrisburg, devastated.

Williams suffered a 3-2 loss in his opening bout to fellow state
qualifier Tim Darling, a Nazareth sophomore. Darling dominated the bout
and led 3-0 before Williams scored a reverse with 6 seconds left.

In Williams’ second bout, he suffered an even bigger loss. Leading 8-0
over Northampton’s Jeff Wandler, he engaged in a roll on the mat.
Williams let go, however, and immediately screamed in agony, barely
able to move a right arm that looked severely injured. After a long
break to settle Williams down and tape him up, he left for the hospital
with his season in jeopardy of ending prematurely.

Minutes later, in the very next bout, Northampton’s Dave Gilio injured
his right shoulder halfway through his bout against Cumberland Valley’s
Nate Widmann in the second period and could barely continue. He ended
up losing 6-0, in visible agony almost the entire time, yet the fact
that he finished and didn’t give up bonus points, coupled with
Wandler’s win by injury default over Williams, spelled the difference
in Northampton’s 37-27 win over CV.

After the match, Northampton coach Terry Daubert said the injury to
Gilio’s shoulder appeared to be muscular, not a dislocation, which was
good news, especially after witnessing Williams’ injury earlier in the

Injury is the flipside of striving for athletic success, and whether
that injury befalls an area favorite or an out-of-area opponent, it’s
an all-too-real reminder that seasons and careers are one move away
from ending.

[email protected]

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