PIAA approves weight class reduction for wrestling from 14 to 13

Thursday, July 16, 2020 | 1:37 AM

PIAA wrestling is dropping weight.

The PIAA board gave final approval Wednesday to a plan that reduces the number of weight classes from 14 to 13 starting next season.

The vote was unanimous.

The PIAA will maintain weight classes 106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152 and 160 pounds. However, it will modify the upper weights. Rather than 170, 182, 195, 220 and 285, the PIAA will use 172, 189, 215 and 285.

The move is intended to reduce “the huge number of forfeits” in regular-season dual meets, PIAA executive director Bob Lombardi said.

“I think last year, in 93 percent of our wrestling matches we had a forfeit,” Lombardi said. “That’s ridiculous. That means you don’t have kids to fill weight classes. You’ve got too many.”

The board heard from critics in June who argued eliminating a weight class would cost athletes opportunities and possibly pose health risks. However, once the PIAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee said health risks were unfounded, the PIAA board moved ahead with the initiative.

Wednesday’s vote finalized a multiyear effort by the PIAA wrestling steering committee that started with an idea to eliminate two weight classes. That 12-class plan eventually stalled, but this 13-class proposal gained traction with support from the wrestling coaches association, Lombardi said.

“The support of the coaches association and the sports medicine committee was huge,” Lombardi said. “They think this is the right thing to do. I agree, and the board agrees.”

The PIAA had asked the National Federation of State High School Associations to consider making a weight-class reduction nationwide, but the NFHS didn’t include the PIAA request when it released its updated rule book in May.

Therefore, the PIAA made the change itself.

“I’ll be candid with you: I’m disappointed with some of the other levels where we tried to get this addressed,” Lombardi said.

“Things happened, and I understand that, but to wait five years to get a change that our people have been clamoring for, it’s counterproductive to the young people who are wrestling.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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