Almost every weight class in high school wrestling just got heavier, starting with the bottom weight class moving up three pounds from 103 to 106.
I wrestled 98 pounds as a junior back at Barnesville, Minn., in 1977 and 105 as a senior; I had planned to wrestle 98 and had already cut 10 pounds from 120 to 110 at the time of our doctor’s weigh-in after our second practice, but he signed me for 105. Our second-lowest weight class then would be lower than the lowest weight class now. And less than a decade before my time, the bottom weight class was 95. So we’ve added two classes, from 12 to 14, yet dropped the bottom 1 1/2 weight classes in the last 40 years.
The top weight below heavyweight back then was 185 pounds. Now there will be classes at 182, 195 and 220 before we get to heavyweight (a maximum of 285 pounds).
The 14 weight classes for next year will be: 106 pounds, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 182, 195, 220 and 285.
The only onces that aren’t changed are 145, 152 and 160.
I like the return of 126, 132 and 138, traditional weight classes from my age, although they each now come one weight sooner in the lineup.
I understand the reasoning for the change; the National Federation of State High Schools wants the 14 weight classes to be distributed to spots where each represents roughly 7 percent of the male high school population. Sounds reasonable.
But if one of the major problems in this country is obesity, especially childhood obesity, I say it’s wrong to keep increasing the weights just because kids are heavier now. They SHOULDN’T be so much heavier. It’s not like they’ve grown that much taller since the weight classes were last bumped up in 1988. Just heavier.
And one of the great things about wrestling is that it was a sport for people of all sizes. We’re full of sports (basketball, football, etc.) where being big is a huge advantage. Wrestling is about the only one that actually rewarded you for being small. Or at least could reward you.
Oh, well. I imagine most coaches will applaud this move. They certainly did the last time the weights were bumped up in 1988. And the vast majority approved of the 215-pound class being added in 1998. And I don’t hate it either. I’m not a fan yet, but if it leads to more kids wrestling and fewer forfeits, I will grudgingly approve of the move. But until I see that increase, I’ll be mildly against it.
Dakota coach Pete Alber, a former 98-pound state champ and the uncle of two recent Dakota 103-pound champs, has no problem with the move.
“I’m not in real big favor of getting rid of the light weights; that’s the great thing about the sport, it lets little kids compete,” Alber said. “But 106 isn’t that bad. It just can’t go any higher than that.”
A couple of other moves were announced in the NFHS news release:
I didn’t like making a figure four leglock on the head illegal. I used to use that sometimes. The easiest way to turn a wrestler when you have him in an arm bar or single chickenwing (we called it the Fridley ride, because it was popularized in Minnesota by Fridley High School) was to step over and put your foot behind his head as a lever. Then, when he turned, you could let go of the arm and slide into a figure four. I never saw anyone ever get hurt with that, but the NFHS disagrees:
“This move was being used by high school wrestlers more and more on the head, so to minimize the risk of injury, the committee voted to outlaw the Figure 4 on the head as well as around the body and both legs,” said Bob Colgate, NFHS assistant director and liaison to the Wrestling Rules Committee.
A long, long overdue move was to make the boundary line inbounds. The mat is already too small, especially with so many wrestlers liking to circle the outside of the mat, enabling them to get out of bounds if they get in trouble. Previously, a wrestler was out of bounds if he or she was touching any part of the 2-inch-wide line which marks the wrestling area. If this move cuts down on wrestlers going out of bounds by even two or three times during a match, it will be a huge boon. Alber loves that change.
The NFHS reports that wrestling ranks sixth among all sports in number of boys competing with 272,890 wrestlers at 10,363 schools during the 2009-10 season. There were an additional 6,134 girls wrestling at 1,009 high schools.