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Weighing changes

Posted Wednesday, May 11, 2011 by Steve Amy

Weighing changes

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

 

By Jared Bell

Last February I covered my first Illinois state wrestling tournament.

It was an event I had heard about for years and was excited to experience first-hand.

My second trip to the University of Illinois’ Assembly Hall for the state tournament — hopefully next winter — will be different.

That’s a guarantee.

In its April meeting, the National Federation of State High School Associations made the most significant change in weight classes in high school wrestling in 23 years after it approved an upward shift of weight classes to correspond with the growing nature of today’s high school kids.
According to the NFHS — the same organization which two years ago voted to move the high school softball pitching rubber from 40 to 43 feet — the changes were made after analyzing data from nearly 200,000 wrestlers nationwide with the goal of having approximately seven percent of wrestlers in each class.

Of the 14 weight classes in high school wrestling, only four were kept the same (145 pounds, 152, 160 and 285) which means 10 of the weight classes will be new weights.

“Eventually, things always change,” L-P wrestling coach Matt Fletcher said. “Kids are getting so much bigger that I don’t really have a problem with them going up with some of the lighter weights and adding bigger weight classes.”

For some classes, the change in weight was minor with only a pound or two being added. Those classes include 113 pounds (instead of 112), 120 (up from 119), 126 (in place of 125), 132 (as opposed to 130) and 170 (down from 171).

In other classes, the change was more significant. The lightest weight, formerly 103 pounds, will now shift to 106 pounds. There also will be 138 (formerly 135 or down from 140) and 220 (previously 215).

The biggest change comes with the removal of one light weight and making it into an additional upper weight. Gone is the 189-pound class as it is being split into 182 and 195 weight classes.

Some are for the shifts, others are against but most are in wait-and-see mode.

“I thought the old weights were working,” Princeton coach Steve Amy said. “One thing I would’ve liked to have seen is them simplify it a little more. They made some changes for the upper weight classes, and I do like it, but I have a tough time filling that 189 spot normally. So now, I have to find a 182 and a 195.”

The movement of the classes will actually benefit Fletcher.

“Looking at it right now, it really helps us at L-P,” the Cavalier coach said. “Our two little guys are getting big and have been in the weight room a lot, and we had a log jam in the upper weights. Between 160 and 189, we had six guys stretched out between those three weight classes. Now, there are four (classes) in that range that we have to work with.”

Adding extra pounds in between the middle weights will help Princeton.

“Especially at 132 and 138, we have a little more depth so we can hopefully get a few extra guys in there that normally wouldn’t get down to that weight,” Amy said.

For me, as the biggest wrestling fan on the NewsTribune sports staff, I actually am in favor of the change. I realize most area schools cannot fill all 14 weight classes and this will only make it harder to do that, but it is a truer representation of high school wrestlers across the state and the nation.

Hopefully, it will allow kids to wrestle more of their natural weights instead of the extreme crash dieting that takes place in wrestling.

I once heard a story in which, after being eliminated from the state tournament, one kid gained 15 pounds by the next night because he could finally eat sweets and fatty foods as he did not have to worry about making weight.

Still, as both Fletcher and Amy pointed out, some form of crash dieting and cutting weight to get to a different weight will still exist.

“In the sport of wrestling, if kids are going to cut weight, they are going to cut weight,” Fletcher said. “And I think it also depends on how you approach it as a coach. I don’t make any kids go down if they don’t want to.”

Jared Bell is a NewsTribune Sports Writer. He can be reached at 223-3200, ext. 138, or at sports@newstrib.com.

 

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