The National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) has a new wrestling weight class proposal on the table for the second straight year, and the PIAA executive staff likes the new weight classes.

Here are the proposed weight classes, known as Option A in NFHS parlance:


The PIAA executive staff will recommend Option A to the PIAA Board of Directors when they meet in the PIAA Board Room near Mechanicsburg on Thursday.

The upshot: Option A (which is the only option available other than the current weight classes) raises the first five weights slightly, enough to eliminate one of the current middle weights, and adds an upper weight.

My opinion: The new weight classes make sense. The PIAA is right on the money with the recommendation.

The move from 103 to 106 is not a huge change and keeps the heralded “little guy” in place. The gradual increase that leads to the elimination of one of the middle weights is overdue. The big question is whether an additional upper weight was needed. I’m ambivalent about that (Ive been in favor of a reduction to 13 weights), but Option A is a very good alternative.

Assuming the PIAA Board accepts the executive staff recommendation, here’s what would have to occur before the new weights would be implemented at a date to be determined by NFHS:

The PIAA must report its recommendation to NFHS by March 1. Following compilation of those nationwide recommendations, the NFHS’ wrestling rules committee will meet in Indianapolis from April 4-6 to discuss and vote on the change. Of course, they won’t tell anyone what the vote is because that’s the ridiculous way NFHS conducts its business.

Following the rules committee vote, the NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee will review the selected weight class option. If Option A is affirmed, it will move to the NFHS Board of Directors for final approval.

So, there are plenty of rocks for the new weight classes to trip over. But given the fact that the issue had legs last year before eventually being rejected, it stands at least a fighting chance this year.

  13 Responses to “New HS wrestling weights back on the table”

  1. Post 2

    25 years ago there were 12 weight classes, almost every team had 30+ kids and gyms were always packed.

    Today there are 14 weight classes, most teams are lucky to have over 20 kids and gyms are half full.

    Aside from that, the powers that be keep on trying to sell an unsellable product to the wrestling community, for example.

    1. Womens wrestling. They say it will save mens wrestling but I do not see it becoming more popular than it is right now for three reasons. 1. 90% of former wrestlers don’t want their daughters wrestling. 2. Most girls do not want to wrestle and 3. Nobody wants to watch womens wrestling.

    2. Having the U.S. Open in the middle of the country. What good does it do our sport to have the Open in a place that will only attract 3000-4000 fans?

    3. Thinking of adding more freestyle to collegiate wrestling. A style of wrestling that has no interest from 85% of current wrestlers and current fans.

    4. Adding weight classes that add nothing to the spectator portion of the sport. There is a reason why there is the random draw, it is the same reason people still leave during the upperweights at the finals of tournaments. The random draw is the epitome of selling something that is unsellable if you have to go to those extremes to keep people in the seats.

    Wrestling does a lousy job of promoting themselves. Take Flowrestling. They are currently ranked 11,000 of all websites in the U.S. but their largest demographic is 18-24 year old males (college kids) and their 2nd largest demographic is 35-44 males(coaches and dads). How many 5th graders even know of Flo, what about their fathers? Only 217 different sites are linked to them. Now Flo is an awesome site but the marketing side is horrendous. Why do we hear radio commercials constantly about the next Bucknell basketball game but nothing about their next home match? Why on the Big Ten Network are there more commercials with girls basketball games coming up then college matches coming up?

    Pepsi become #1 because of a massive advertising campaign 30 years ago targeting youth, why do you think McDonald’s is the lone sponsor for the Disney Channel?

    Wrestling must find a way to promote themselves not to the current crop of older fans and wrestlers. They must promote themselves to the youth. It doesn’t take a genius to see how the NBA, NFL and MLB do it and all three are growth sports not only in this country but throughout the world.

    Export folkstyle and make it an olympic sport!

  2. Post 1 of 2 on a mainly AA Forum that I found

    Here is my take on the weight classes.

    Last week at Escape the Rock I watched the 215/285 wrestle more like Greco Roman wrestlers on their feet. On bottom most of them are doing the tri-pod to their feet, on top you are seeing ankle rides, shoulder drives, front head and arms with-out legs in type stuff. The four finalists at 215/285 do a bit more than that. At 189 they do a bit more, and actually see some shots, then the amount of technique that each wrestler uses increases with each weigh class down.

    I’m not talking about the super elite 189-215-285. They actually wrestle more like a light weight. Like Ed Ruth, Mike Evans, Jon Fausey, or even Jeff Walter. I’m talking about the majority of them.

    The lower weight classes have to be able to defend all of the above stuff plus all the different shots and setups.

    The tournament director totally mixed up the weight classes for the finals, doing 112 and 103 as the last two. Probably wanted to keep the fans till the end, so he mixed the 189-215-285 in between the other 11 weight classes.

    At Districts and Regionals the stands are practically empty when the big guys wrestle, and you can actually feel the electricity in the air when the 103 start the next round.

    I 100% agree bumping 103 to 106, but do not add another weight up top.

    How many of you been to a club or an intense camp in PA? How many HS wrestlers are there above 171? I talked to 4 different club coaches and asked them. They told me they are lucky to get 1-2 a club practice, and usually the bigger guys don’t put in 1/5 the time the lighter guys do outside of the normal in season HS practice room. Especially the first three weight classes.

    So do we want to take a weight class away from the kids who are putting their time into wrestling year round.

    I’m still not really in favor of 215.

  3. Fan, you now have posted the longest comment in history. I congratulate you.

    There’s plenty on which to comment here, but I’ll resist. I’ll only say that the new weight classes were developed as a result of scientific study of the weight program nationwide. Basically, they’re placing weights where the bodies are.

    The rest … I’ll let stand.

  4. I know they are Rod. Thank you for posting those comments.

    I know in District 4 area, and SW area JH numbers are way down, but elementary numbers are way up. I suggest they wait a couple more years.

    I do like the idea of bumping 103 to 106. I think the factor of skill and what the fans want should be factored in as well.

    The fact is, the upper weights have man more OT matches in the post-season than the other weights. And we aren’t talking 6-6 OT matches, or 9-9 OT matches, we are talking 1-1 OT matches. Either they aren’t attempting much, or the Officials aren’t calling for action enough.

  5. Adding an upper weight does not make any sense as it’s hard enough to get kids at the upper weights. I would just as soon eliminate a middle weight and go to 13 weights – this will also help with the tie-breaker situation. I would go 105, 115, 120, 125, 130, 135, 140, 145, 155, 165, 185, 225, 285.

  6. One of the problems with the current weights is the big gap between 171, 189, 215 and 285. The new weight classes should encourage more of the 180-pound type wrestlers to stay involved.

    At least that’s the theory.

  7. Well, I won’t argue that officials need to fire out more stalling at 215 and 285, and quickly too. I know people say you have to be consistent with stalling calls, but you know as well as I do that big guys just don’t attempt as many offensive moves (in general). In that case, more stalling calls are necessary.

    I will say that by eliminating a middle weight, I believe it help the post-season quality of all of the middle weights.

  8. I just saw this somewhere else.

    How about How about 108-115-120, 125, 130, 135, 140,145,152,160, 171, 185 – 205 – 265

    I agree call stalling the same at 103 as 285. That could really make the big guys exciting.

  9. Wrestling Community:

    I hear and agree with most of what Rod, Anthony, and wrestlingfan say above. I’ve been a fan of high school and college wrestling since I was in elementary school, and I’ve had the privilege of coaching elementary, junior high, and senior high wrestling teams for 13 years at six schools in three states. I even competed in old-timers’ tournaments until I was 42 years old: I’m now almost 57. After thinking about this overnight, I’ve come to a few conclusions, most of which will be unpopular…

    Like it or not, folkstyle wrestling is a dying sport all across the country. Ditto for freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling. (Why else would the Olympics reduce its weight classes from 10 to eight to seven?) I’m a minority, but I’ll confess to finding folkstyle wrestling more interesting than freestyle, as well. Greco-Roman? YAWN! Boxing was very popular throughout the middle of the last century. Now, that’s almost completely dead. Wrestling is headed in the same direction. Mixed martial arts is the glamorous wave of the future — NOT folkstyle or freestyle wrestling. Even fake pro wrestling is sometimes paired with mixed martial arts bouts, just to get decent turnouts.

    At larger high schools, kids have many more choices in sports than ever — lacrosse and ice hockey, just to mention two newer ones. At smaller PA schools, a wrestling team of 6-8 guys to start the season is not uncommon. Then, injuries hit… I’ve seen junior and senior high matches that consisted of four bouts, with all of the rest being forfeits. In one, the junior high team I coached won 108- (-1) when our opponent traveled for nearly 90 minutes to show up with four wrestlers! About two years ago, a high school match in Georgia ended 36-30 with ALL of the matches being forfeits! The coaches chose not to wrestle any exhibition matches, so fans were outraged when they couldn’t get their money back. We’ll soon look back at these as “the good old days.”

    High school and college wrestling teams are being cut left and right to balance school budgets. With the Commonwealth in dire straights, expect more teams to be cut as funds from the state dry up. The vast majority of schools’ teams aren’t even close to the caliber of Central Dauphin, Easton. and Nazareth, and they will NEVER be. Except for the top tier teams, gyms are aren’t even 1/4 full for dual matches anymore. Low profile sports like golf, tennis and wrestling, along with music and art programs always get the ax first: Few people argue for them. It’s so bad in some PA school districts that arguing to maintain these programs isn’t going to help now, anyway. They’re as good as gone for next season.

    Also, how many teens want to put in all of that hard work if they can’t start or be on the first string? The hard work needed to succeed in wrestling is another turn-off for teens whose spare time is focused on X-box, Playstation, Facebooking, and incessant texting. You may “play” football and basketball, but you don’t “play” wrestling! Throw in the fact that wrestling is viewed by the majority of many student bodies not as a sport for the tough or for jocks as in days gone by, but as one that is now “gay.” For better or worse, there is little else that is a more crushing insult to teen-age boys.

    In addition, there is often great pressure to get into the right college, and they are ALL expensive these days. Scholarships in football, basketball, baseball, and ice hockey (and to a lesser extent soccer) are the most obvious paths to a free ride, so male athletes will focus their attention there. Even more importantly, these four sports are the ones that hold out the promise of mega-buck careers after college, as unrealistic as that is for most. That being the case, there is less motivation than ever to be a three-sport athlete. Students would rather lift weights and attend camps related to their specific sports during the off-season.

    Having a car seems to be more important than back in the day, as well. Many teens now choose to hold down jobs that prohibit them from attending practices — just to have wheels, insurance, and gas money. This stuff is WAY cooler than sweating, “grabbing another guy’s balls,” and pushing oneself to the point of throwing up on a wrestling mat. I’ve even had a few guys tell me that they’d love to be on the team — IF they don’t have to attend practices!

    All of that having been said, perhaps, there is way to keep our great sport on life-support a while longer…

    1) Keep the 14 weight classes as outlined in “Option A” for Pennsylvania’s Class AAA schools and REDUCE the number of weight classes for Class AA schools to 12. Any dual matches or multi-team meets involving ONLY Class AA schools would compete using just 12 weight classes. When Class AAA and Class AA schools meet, a set of 13 weight classes could be used, so that neither team has an advantage. For sectional, regional, and state meets, the Class AAA schools would use 14 weight classes and the Class AA schools would use 12. THIS IS NOT UNREALISTIC, because the weight classes would be fairly close together, particularly in the lower weights. The number of classes for league championships between schools of differing classes could be governed by their specific leagues.

    2) I think the idea of multi-team dual meets on Saturdays is great, but they too may soon be on the way out. I recommend double-elimination tournaments for individual wrestlers. I endorse the practice of each school entering two (or even more) wrestlers in each weight class to keep everyone on the team emotionally invested, because every wrestler will know that a match is upcoming. If team scores are kept, simply count the outcome of each team’s top-seeded wrestlers only. For what it’s worth, this is a very common practice in Alaska, because some of the city teams are very large (120+, 9-12), while those in the Bush (rural Alaska) may consist of just one or two wrestlers. Traveling distances often involve long ferry rides or plane travel. Teams MUST make their expensive trips worthwhile. Know that it’s not uncommon to have two wrestlers from THE SAME SCHOOL compete for league and state titles up here.

    3) The elimination of overtime matches won’t happen, but I recommend letting tie team scores remain that way. Bag all of this eighth and ninth criteria stuff and save it for team dual competitions. There is much in life that is neither a win, nor a loss. Young people AND their coaches, parents, and fans need to learn how to deal with those situations as much as they need to learn how to win and lose!

    Unfortunately, any ideas that other readers or I present here will go nowhere at this point…

    Good luck to all as your season winds down!

    Steve Fisher,
    Anchorage, Alaska

  10. I don’t ref a ton, but in my travels this season at the junior high level in York/Adams counties, I have seen more teams with extra bodies at the middle and upper end of the weights and not the lower ones. Without the massive weight sucking there was in the past, maybe these weights will work better?

  11. Where can we find the details on the scientific study you reference?. Last year, the NHFS inforatoin stated that it was based on a sample of 195,000 wrestelrs over a 4 year period several years ago. That would be only a small percentage of actual wrestlers over this time period.

    My main issue is why they are providing spots at weights that are considered overweight adn/or obese even for a 19 year old, while taking away spots for lower weights.

  12. Betsy,

    The study was conducted by the National Federation of High Schools in conjunction with the National Wrestling Coaches Association. NFHS looked at the weight distribution of 195,000 wrestlers, then calculated weights classes that slotted approximately 7.14 percent of those wrestlers in each weight class. What the study showed nationwide is that there are a fair number of upper weight class wrestlers participating, thus the decision to add an upper class weight in the low 180-pound range.

    The proposed new weights – 182, 195, and 200 – are considered obese for persons who do not reach a certain height and exceed a certain level of body fat, but are not obese for a person who does not meet the obesity standards. Often, larger high school athletes are not obese at all.

  13. The average junior or senior in school ranges from 140 to 178 lbs. Very few upper classmen weigh less than 112 pounds. There are many more kids weighing above 180 lbs than those weighing less than 112 pounds. There is also a huge issue in wrestling with kids losing a lot of weight while they are still growing. For a kid who weighs 178 Ibs it seems like a huge jump to 189 and then he is forced to lose weight to 171. There needs to be another weight class between. As far as the comment regarding obesity that standard is ancient. An athlete generally carries 15 to 30 pounds more than that chart due to having more muscle than the average kid. Personally it seems people are arguing for the lower weights so there freshman or sophomore getting a starting position. Freshman can still wrestle Jr High. I do not think adding a weight class of 182 will cause more forfeits. It may prevent the kid who doesn’t make the line up at 171 getting hurt trying to wrestle someone 20 pounds heavier.

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