PIAA wrestling committee considering WPIAL proposal to change state qualifying process

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Friday, April 1, 2022 | 5:41 PM


Here’s a lesson everyone has heard: Don’t always believe what you read on social media.

After the PIAA Wrestling Steering committee met March 30, reports surfaced that the committee was considering going to four classifications.

WPIAL committee member Frank Vulcano Jr. said that wasn’t even discussed, and a lot of things mentioned on Twitter were inaccurate.

What was discussed was a proposal, made by WPIAL coaches and presented by Vulcano, to divide the state into four regions instead of five by combining the WPIAL (aka the Southwest Region) with the Northwest Region (Districts 4, 6, 8, 9 and 10) to make a West Region in Class 3A.

The idea for the proposal came after the PIAA’s initial reading for the 2022-2024 seasons saw the WPIAL dropping from four to three individual state qualifiers in Class 3A because there was a reduction of schools in the class by seven.

The WPIAL is arguably the strongest wrestling district in the state in Class 3A. Over the past two seasons, the WPIAL has claimed 64% of the qualifiers have earned medals in the state tournament in the class.

Seven WPIAL wrestlers won PIAA gold last month.

After a lengthy discussion, a vote was taken, and a 6-6 result occurred. District 12 (Philadelphia) and District 5 (Bedford, Fulton and Somerset) were not on the video call and did not vote. The proposal was tabled until Tuesday.

“I’ve been on this committee for 20 years, and you never know what vote would be,” Vulcano said. “You would hope the individuals are voting for the best of the sport, just not their district.”

If approved, the West Region districts would have the opportunity to qualify an extra wrestler or two for the state tournament.

Vulcano said the proposal would add an additional tournament for the teams from the WPIAL and give the West Region five berths in the state tournament.

The only regions that didn’t have teams drop to Class 2A were the Southeast (counties surrounding Philadelphia) and South Central (Harrisburg region). The Northeast lost one team, and the Northwest, the smallest region, dropped to 25.

If the Northwest and WPIAL would combine, it would be the largest region in the state at 63 schools.

“There is a chance it will be approved,” Vulcano said. “We did receive the backing of PIAA Executive Director Dr. Robert Lombardi. We didn’t even get a chance to talk about Class 2A.”

Nothing approved or discussed by the committee will become official until the PIAA Board of Control meets in May for final approval.

Other issues discussed were:

• Team qualifiers were approved by the committee with WPIAL Class 2A getting four teams qualifying for states and Class 3A getting three.

• The new 13 National Federation of High Schools weight classes were approved starting July 1, 2022. The lower six weight classes added a pound. The weights will be 107, 114, 121, 127, 133, 139, 145, 152, 160, 172, 189, 215 and 285.

• Discussion of increasing competitions did not get voted on and will remain at 22.

• The committee passed a seven dual- meet minimum for teams to enter the PIAA team tournament, which begins with the WPIAL team tournament.

• Methods of counting competitions were clarified.

• There was an update on girls wrestling. There are now 35 girls teams across the state. The PIAA will sponsor the growing sport when it reaches 100.

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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