PIAA board to consider reducing number of weight classes for wrestling

Tuesday, May 21, 2019 | 6:14 PM

Could the PIAA be reducing the number of weight classes in wrestling?

The PIAA Board of Directors will consider the proposal at their meeting Wednesday in Chambersburg.

On the agenda is reducing the number of weight classes from 14 to 12 on the high school level and from 18 to 15 on the junior high/middle school level.

The wrestling committee voted 13-1 in April to prepare a couple proposals for the board to consider.

This would not affect the 2019-20 season but could go into effect at the start of the 2020-21 season.

“Too many forfeits are the reason we’d like to reduce the classes,” WPIAL wrestling committee chairman Frank Vulcano Jr. said. “Fans don’t want to show up at a mat and see forfeits. We’re hoping it would make it better for everyone.”

The proposed weight classes are: 110, 118, 125, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 190, 215 and 285. The current weight classes are: 106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 182, 195, 220 and 285.

Currently, the PIAA follows the National Federation of State High School Associations of 14 weight classes. The PIAA would like the NFHS to also reduce the weight classes. If not, the PIAA would like to use reduce the classes under a pilot program.

Vulcano said teams that can fill 14 weight classes would probably be against the proposal, but schools that struggle to fill a roster would be for it.

“Obviously, the initial reaction is that’s less kids, less people involved in the sport or less people that are required to fill a team,” said Burrell coach Josh Shields, whose team has won the past 13 WPIAL Class AA titles. “We’ve had pretty solid numbers year in and year out, so it’s never really been a concern for us, but I do know that participation has been down across the board. Some of the dual meets are pretty much decided by who has more kids, so that’s definitely not something you want.”

Derry coach Mike Weinell and Franklin Regional coach Matt Lebe don’t want to see a reduction.

Weinell said he has no problem filling a roster, and Lebe said he doesn’t want to see an individual lose an opportunity to be a state champion.

“I like it the way it is,” Lebe said. “There are more light and middle weight wrestlers, and it’s tougher to get big kids.”

There also is a proposal for 13 weight classes (108, 115, 122, 128, 134, 140, 146, 152, 160, 172, 185, 215 and 285).

“I wouldn’t mind the reduction to 13, but there is too big a difference between 170 and 190,” Weinell said. “Twenty pounds is a lot.”

The weight classes expanded from 13 to 14 in 2003, basically adding the 220-pound weight classes and adjusting other weights. One reason was to grow the sport and give more wrestlers an opportunity to compete.

Vulcano said he didn’t think that worked out too well.

Greensburg Salem coach Randy Parsley said he is for the reduction of weight classes as long as they make certain changes. He too was worried about what weight classes would be eliminated.

Another proposal that could be considered is allowing additional wrestlers to compete in tournaments without taking away team competition points.

Vulcano said that is up to the PIAA board to decide.

“If they pass it, it will be up to the tournament directors to allow extra wrestlers to compete,” Vulcano said. “I’m not going to allow it at the Powerade Tournament.”

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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