3-point takedown, rule changes to promote offense coming to high school wrestling

Wednesday, May 1, 2024 | 8:37 PM

When the National Federation of State High School Associations announced rule changes in wrestling last week, official Tom Manns was thrilled.

“It’s going to make things a lot simpler to call,” Manns said. “I’m all for it.”

Beginning next season, wrestlers will be considered in bounds with only one point of by contact by either wrestler inside or on the boundary line.

“Without increasing risk, this change eliminates the subjectivity of the out-of-bounds call,” Elliot Hopkins, NFHS director of sports and student services and liaison to the wrestling rules committee, said in a statement. “The change also helps officials to call ‘out of bounds’ more consistently, and it provides wrestlers, coaches and spectators a better understanding of out of bounds.”

The other big changes include three points for a takedown and more points for near falls (two points for a two count, three for a three count and four for a four count).

“The out-of-bounds calls will become more consistent,” Canon-McMillan athletic director and WPIAL wrestling chairperson Frank Vulcano Jr. said. “Nothing has been voted on by the PIAA, but they usually follow what the federation proposes. I think the changes are good. It should promote more offense.”

The high school rules are following what colleges have been using the past few years.

“I feel the rules will promote the wrestler to work for more falls,” Manns said.

Greensburg Salem coach Randy Parsley disagrees. He said he isn’t fond of the college rules, especially the in-bounds rule. He had no problem with the old rules.

“I think you’ll see more technical falls,” Parsley said. “I think the gap will widen between the good wrestlers and the average wrestlers. What’s next, riding time in high school?”

But most coaches seem to like the changes.

“I’ve been saying that we should get in line with college,” Kiski Area coach Chris Heater said.

“Most officials say the most stress is from the out-of-bounds calls. The scores will rack up quickly. I like the changes. The big change to me is the out-of-bounds call.”

The committee also made the 10-foot circle at the center of the mat optional. Wrestlers will now be encouraged to stay in the middle of the mat instead of within the circle.

“The committee determined that the starting lines of a mat indicate the center of the mat and the 10-foot circle is no longer needed,” Hopkins said. “With the new mat designs that have a large mascot or logos, it gives a refreshing look to the mats. Wrestlers and officials know where the center of the mat is located without the 10-foot circle.”

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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