I’ll have a blog from the PIAA wrestling steering committee this afternoon from the PIAA office.

There are a couple of big items on the agenda: (1) District 11 is once again seeking a second spot in the Class AAA Team Championships; it currently has just one spot allotted for the next cycle. If the committee suspends protocol, it will add a qualifier to the Team Championships for not just District 11, but also for Districts 1, 3 and 7, which is exactly what happened the last two years, and it expanded the AAA bracket from 16 teams to 20 teams

Last time around, it passed. But there’s some sentiment not to go in that direction for this cycle, in part because no one likes those pigtail matches being wrestled on the Monday immediately after the district team championships. PIAA has said it will consider moving the pigtails to Thursday morning at the Giant Center.

The other big issue – and it will be a food fight – will be the proposed new regional alignments in Class AAA.

The proposal is to move District 4 from the Northeast to the Northwest with Districts 6, 8, 9, 10 and to move District 12 from the Southeast to the Northeast with Districts 2 and 11. If that happens, it would leave District 1 with 62 AAA teams and District 3 with 63 AAA teams, giving the Southcentral Region the No. 4 qualifier to states for the next cycle (it had belonged to the Southeast).

That alone has caused some fireworks, but it was exacerbated by the fact that when the PIAA first drew up the proposal, Districts 1 and 3 each had 62 AAA teams. District 3’s 63rd AAA team came when Middletown, which has traditionally requested an upgrade to AAA from AA, sent in its request after the PIAA deadline, but was granted the upgrade administratively by both District 3 and the PIAA staff.

That circumstance prompted the PIAA Board to propose a new policy that would permit late upgrades, but to have no effect on the qualifying standards.

I’ll be back with the blog at 2 p.m.

– – –

The meeting will begin shortly.

Meeting has begun.

Doing a review of the Team Championships and Individual Championships.  Based on Bob Lombardi’s report, it looks like the four-mat, all-place match format will continue.

Frank Vulcano of District 7 says he liked the format generally, suggest a new mat configuration to provide a better viewing opportunity for fans and get the medal stand out on the floor.

Bob Hartman of District 11 says there were more negatives than positive from D-11, primarily along the lines of not featuring the finalists enough.

It looks like the main adjustments that PIAA will consider are: (1) New mat configuration (a T-shape with two mats near the media tables, then single mats aligned in the middle of the floor with the championship bout mat dead center on the floor); (2) bringing the medal stand on the floor; (3) finding ways to highlight the finalists.

Agreed on this.  Let’s move forward one more year with the above tweaks.  I think it will work.

Discussion now on Penns Valley wrestler who missed weigh-in on Thursday morning.

Discussion now on the RFP (Request For Proposal) for the Team Wrestling and Individual Wrestling venue for the next four years.  Shouldn’t last long.

here comes the discussion on entries to the Team Championships.  This is where District 11 will make its case for an additional qualifier.

Bob Hartman of D-11 moves to expand the tournament to 20 teams in AAA and AA. Seconded by Frank Vulcano of D-7.

Talk about moving pigtail matches to Thursday morning at Giant Center dies quickly.  If 20-team is approved, pigtail matches will continue to be wrestled on Mondays.

Bob Lombardi is making the case for the 20-team bracket.  Believes that district runners-up should have the opportunity to participate.

Vote to send to the Board:  13-1 in favor of 20-team bracket for both Class AAA and Class AA.

District 5 is arguing for a second qualifier in AA.  Bob Lombardi says the staff will present that to the Board if the committee agrees.

Now, there is a motion by District 5 to expand the tournament to permit every district to include a runner-up for every district.  That motion fails, 10-4.

To clarify: The steering committee will move a proposed 20-team bracket in both Class AAA and Class AA instead of a 16-team bracket in both.  Districts 1, 2 and 5 will NOT receive a second qualifier in AA under this proposal, nor will District 12 in Class AAA.

Now, comes the discussion over the proposed regional alignment.

Here’s the nut:

The proposal is to move District 4 from the Northeast to the Northwest with Districts 6, 8, 9, 10 and to move District 12 from the Southeast to the Northeast with Districts 2 and 11. If that happens, it would leave District 1 with 62 AAA teams and District 3 with 63 AAA teams, giving the Southcentral Region the No. 4 qualifier to states for the next cycle (it had belonged to the Southeast).

That alone has caused some fireworks, but it was exacerbated by the fact that when the PIAA first drew up the proposal, Districts 1 and 3 each had 62 AAA teams. District 3’s 63rd AAA team came when Middletown, which has traditionally requested an upgrade to AAA from AA, sent in its request after the PIAA deadline, but was granted the upgrade administratively by both District 3 and the PIAA staff.

District 1 is arguing that if one or more of its AA teams wish to upgrade to Class AAA before the Board’s third and final reading, it should be able to do the same as Middletown did.

District 12 is now making the travel argument against moving to the Northeast Region.

Brad Cashman steps in and points out that moving D12 to Northeast provides better balance in terms of the number of schools in regional tournaments.  He said that PIAA has bent its own rules by allowing District 1 to keep the revenues of the Southeast Region Tournament and basically told D1 and D12 that it will make the Southeast an interdistrict regional (rather than a so-called self-contained region) and run the tournament from the PIAA office.

Brad also points out that several districts have extensive travel to regional tournament.  He specifically points out D2’s lengthy travel to Northeast in Bethlehem for years.  D9 points out its lengthy travel to Sharon for Northeast AA.

Still no decision by steering committee on what to recommend to Board regarding region alignment.  And I have some bad news:  I have to pick up my lax goalie at Central Dauphin at 5, which means I have to roll at 4:15 latest.

Lots of discussion.

First motion:  D12 remains in Southeast Region. D3 seconds.  Basically, it’s a vote to keep the status quo.

The vote fails: 1-12.

Darn it. Have to go. And the discussion about how to align the regions is ongoing.  Apologies, but that’s the Dad Duty factor.

OK, playing catch-up.  Bottom line: Unless the Board does something drastic, the AAA regional alignments will change for the next cycle: D12 to the Northeast, D4 to the Northwest.


  23 Responses to “PIAA wrestling steering commitee blog, 2 p.m.”

  1. Rod any information on the format of the State championships…. I saw/heard very few positive comments on the new format… MY polls all weekend wen 86 % dislike 4% like and 10% undecided…

  2. I take it that in AA three districts, I assume 4, 7, 10 will get 3 qualifiers?

    In AAA will it be 2 from D11, 3 from D7, 4 from D1 + D3?, 1 from the other 7?

    If they want to improve site lines for individuals, either remove the space between the three pairs of mats, putting the scorers tables for in the team and penallty boxes, Or go with a 1-2-2-1 configuration.

  3. The travel distance argument for D12 is stupid. JamesBuchanan has trveled 1 hour further to get to Wilson than any D12 team will travel to get to Liberty. I am sure that is common for many other regions, even some districts. JB may have traveled farther to get to sectionals at Susquenita than some D12 teams to Liberty (yeah, I know JB is going to AAA).

    If the Philly Public teams can’t afford hotels, PIAA can help them out.

  4. Just dying of curiosity on a minor point Rod — what did the PIAA discuss on the missed weigh-in? Are they going to change the rule because neither this kid nor his coach could find the scale on time?

  5. Jeff,

    There was discussion on the missed weigh-in. In short, the fault laid entirely with the coaches who, as the Penns Valley person on the steering committee pointed out, were not tournament rookies. They just inexplicably blew it, sitting in the arena while the weigh-ins were going on. The coaches have been dismissed.

    There will be no rule change. Everyone else was in the weigh-in area, as has been the cases for virtually every tournament. The only tweaking that was considered was having a defined opening time and a defined closing time to the weigh-in, but even that was nudged aside. What happened to the Penns Valley kid was unfortunate, but a very rare case at PIAA wrestling.

  6. Rich,

    That very thing – that several schools throughout the state travel much longer distances than the school in District 12 that is most distant to Bethlehem – was pointed out repeatedly in the meeting, and that probably had as much to do with the overwhelming vote against District 12 than anything else.

    The District 12 guy seems like a very decent man, but I almost laughed out loud when he said “Some of our schools are nearly in New Jersey.” I wanted to say either (a) yes, La Salle and St. Joe’s are well aware of where New Jersey is, or (b) You know, you can actually walk from Easton into New Jersey … and it’s free.

    But back to the travel argument. This year, the Southeast Region was held at Oxford HS. Not sure if it will be there next year, but La Salle College HS, which dominates D12, is 62 miles one way from Oxford. Care to guess how many miles it is one-way from Bethlehem Freedom? 62 miles.

    Northeast HS, the public school most likely to have kids reach the region tournament, is 57 miles from Oxford. It is 70 miles from Freedom.

    And your James Buchanan argument, Rich? Dead on. JB has to drive 130 miles one way to get to Wilson. Other schools throughout the state have similar drives for regionals (Williamsport drives 142 miles one way to get to Freedom, a drive that will by cut by about 35 percent when it goes to Altoona next year.

    For several years now, the Pittsburgh City schools have been sending their wrestlers to Altoona for regionals. They acknowledge they’re not crazy about it, but they don’t cry about it.

    And the D12 rep on the PIAA board acknowledged that the D12 wrestlers stayed overnight this year at Oxford.

  7. As soon as The Phila Public League was accepted into the PIAA, I thought, and suggested, they belong in a Region with D11+D2 if we were going to continue with 5 regions for AAA.

    Lots of folks suggest that PIAA is kind of nefarious organization. They are just a little slow moving, Like Byzantine Glacier.

  8. “Glacial pace” is pretty much PIAA’s motto. Obviously, some of of its business has to be conducted that way. In the case of D12 wrestling (and other sports), PIAA was playing the role of benevolent guardian for the last 4-5 years. Now that they are on board and fully acclimated, the D12 schools are, in theory, in the same boat as the rest of the state.

    This was gently suggested at the steering committee yesterday as well. The wine and cheese days for D12 are over. It’s time to be part of the whole body, period.

  9. Any discussions regarding the NW AAA region?

    33 schools get 3 Hershey slots, the same as the 62 squads in D1 get. Coincidentally this region features 8 of the 12 “Upgrades” from AA to AAA. At what point does the PIAA look to drop the # of Hershey qualifiers from the region? If/when that happens how many of those 8 will then look to compete at AA?

    Also as far as regional qualifiers D9 with (5 schools) gets 3 qualifiers, whereas D8 (6) and D4 (4) get 2 qualifiers? Also D10 & D6 each have 9 schools, but D6 gets an extra qualifier?

    SW regional AA, proposal seemed to be to drop from 14 to 12 wrestlers, D5 & D6 unchanged, D7 to lose 2 regional qualifiers. I can’t think that the WPIAL likes that idea.

  10. O,

    Everyone is pretty much fed up with the inequity of the Northwest AAA Region. Count me in on that, and I’m a NW AAA product.

    The problem, of course, is that years ago the PIAA passed Rule of 3 for wrestling: all regions advanced a minimum of three qualifiers to states. And the fact that PIAA is pretty much hamstrung with 5 AAA regions. Those two facts, combined with time schedule issues at states that prevent any expanded bracket, conspire against reasonable regional alignments and qualifying.

    Even so, there has been lots of discussion on what to do with NW AAA. Lots. There have been proposals in the past to move D8, D9 and D10 into the Southwest with D7, and to move D4 and D6 into the Southcentral with D3 to try to even out the regions a little, but most importantly to cut the number of regions from five to four.

    But you see where all of that has gone: nowhere. All of the things you brought up (except for the upgrades) has been thoroughly discussed, to no avail.

    I’m not much for heavy-handed action from the Board, but I think the time has come to really grasp this issue and get a little totalitarian.

  11. Rod, wouldn’t that sort of require five districts to fall on their swords for the sake of the three larger ones? Yeah, that’s gonna happen.

    I’m surprised no schools from D4 opt up for the same reason the ones in D6 keep doing it — to have a better shot on the tournament trail because there are fewer competitors in the class (I’m not buying that crap about wanting stronger competition; I think it’s in AA anyway).

    This, like football, is another great argument for regionalization over the district system, or at least flexible district boundaries based on each class size.

  12. Unfortunately, the only way to make 4 numerically equitable regions with the present districts and size rules is to create a region that includes D12, D11, D2, D4, D6, that means Johnstown, Del Val, and Olney all in the same region. Won’t work, PIAA does’t even take the step of making the 4 AA regions roughly the same number of schools, which can be done several different ways.

    Timewise, PIAA individuals could be expanded to 20 man brackets. by moving the present first round of consolation to Friday, and still need only six mats for the first 4. Problem is although AA can be expanded simply, and fairly to 20 man distribution; the logical way to send AAA qualifiers is SE+SC 5 each, NE+NW 4 each, NW 3. a 21 man bracket is an abomination cared to a 20 man bracket, it requires an additional consolation round.

  13. As far as 5 little vs. 3 big districts, my guesses on some viewpoints:

    D5 has nothing in aaa, but would vote with D6, unless they somehow received a carrot

    D7 would prefer to be self containing with 3 qualifiers instead of adding 8/9/10 and the region having 4 qualifiers or also D6 & D4 and the region getting 5 qualifiers.

    D3 would prefer to be self containing with 4 qualifiers instead of adding D6 and D4 and having 5 qualifiers.

    So while its clearly a statewide problem, only the 4 eastern districts could push for a change without hurting their own interests, as the central and western 8 districts have good situations for themselves currently.

  14. Jeff, Rich, O:

    You guys clearly understand the issues that make the AAA regional system (such that it is a “system”) so frustrating; there are a lot of components involved, not the least of which is politics.

    IMO, Jeff has it right: Regionalization and scrapping the current, 90-plus-year old district system is really the only answer. Pie-in-the-sky? Today, yes. But given the conversation at the January BOD meeting where outgoing prez Rod Stone encouraged the Board to take a look at redrawing districts (he used the example that the legislature does it for both federal and state legislative districts), I can hold out that tiny sliver of hope.

    But given that any change is highly unlikely, the only way to change at least the wrestling regionals is a top-down solution that satisfies no one, whether it’s with a five-region or four-region set-up. Just about any other idea – expanded brackets, direct qualifying from districts, an extra classification (I would like to see those numbers, however) – just won’t pass the “I-don’t-like-it” test.

  15. Clay,

    I didn’t want to ignore your post. Just took a while to get to it.

    I realize the folks who populate pennlive chats are likely to dislike anything that changes, so the numbers you posted don’t surprise me.

    But the focus of those readers was almost entirely on the fact that finals were not segregated. I can understand why people opposed it; I opposed it. But that wasn’t the reason PIAA changed the format; it changed it for a lot of reasons, such as:

    A later weigh-in for AAA wrestlers on Saturday;

    A break for table help and officials;

    Not rush AA wrestlers and family members out of the GC;

    Give AAA crowd time to enter for the evening session;

    All of those things happened. The two biggest complaints, other than the lack of the sportlight on the finalists, were the mat configuration and the medal stand being stuck in the corner. Those will be addressed next year with a T-shape for the 4 mats that will allow the medal stand to come on the floor again.

    As Saturday wore on, I liked the format more and more. Like most people, I’ll never be 100 percent happy with all place matches together, but I think the positives outweighed that negative in the end.

  16. Jeff,

    By the way, I’ve always wondered how some enterprising public school (or agent thereof) has not sued PIAA over the co-op / private counting difference. If nothing else, it would be interesting to hear the arguments on both sides.

    Of course, the net result would be that all private schools would become the highest classification available in that sport if their students were counted the same as co-ops. But for me, the better result would be counting just the students that actually are received in a co-op (rather than the current 50 percent of the full enrollment of the smaller school). Few schools would change classifications in that case.

    Although I’m a big supporter of co-ops, I’ve never liked counting the other school’s total enrollment at all. The new 50 percent rules helps, but is still terribly unfair when compared to private school enrollments.

  17. Rod – 14: Unfortunately the regionalization/redistricting answer changes things from a wrestling centric discussion to a situation with wrestling has minimal influence, as politics and football would be driving that discussion. With that said I do think that redistricting needs to occur, I’m a D5 guy but there is no reason why a district exists with only 3 lightly populated counties that frequently interact with the 3 counties located in D6 directly north of them, with minimal interaction with neighboring D3 & D7.

    Rod – 15 : Sometimes I have the memory of an elephant, I don’t recall your opposing the finals not being segregated. In fact from the rodfrisco.com archives:

    “(1) A change in the format of state finals.

    …So PIAA wants to do this: Leave all four mats down for all sessions on Saturday and wrestle all of the medal matches – 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th – simultaneously for each weight class. Bravo!

    This takes the spotlight away from the championship match, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing….”

    Rod 16: imo coop classification has to be somewhat based on school population, not # of participants. Perhaps the 50% rate needs to be adjusted given the hurdles of going to another school to participate, but I don’t think that just adding the number of participants is fair to the other public schools. Which I think should be the measuring stick goal, not trying to make them fair compared to the private schools.

  18. Why do Charter schools even offer sports? The intent of charter schools is to provide educational alternatives from your current public school. The solution is simple, charter schools can exist, but all kids who enter are ONLY eligible to participate athletically at there home district.

  19. O,

    I did indeed write that last year re the new wrestling championship format, but over the months I started to think about it from a wrestler’s POV, and I came to agree with the folks that segregating the championships was not preferable. I just didn’t write about it. Indeed, I still have some discomfort with that, but the overall change in format is worthy of continuation, especially if PIAA is able to draw more attention to that championship bout.

    But the changes did indeed provide many more positives than negatives, and those were the positives that I initially was enthusiastic about. I remain enthusiastic about those positives.

    So in the interim, yes, I changed my mind about the lack of championship bout spotlight, especially after talking with some previous state finalists. They all decried the change, and it gave me a different POV. Good work on your part digging up last year’s post, which was exactly the way I felt at that time.

    Re co-ops: As noted, I just don’t like the combined enrollments; it’s too penal for something that’s essentially a Good Samaraitan act. I understand why it is designed the way it is, but I have a problem with it, especially when the same does not apply to private schools.

    Re redistricting: It has to happen. And it never will. Just the reality of Board poiltics.

  20. Bob,

    Really strong point in there. I guess one of the arguments is that charter schools, while funded by the public districts, are in fact separate schools, complete with brick-and-mortar locations and thus entitled to include extracurriculars.

    That doesn’t mean I’m on board with it as a matter of philosophy. We all knew that the proliferation of charter schools would cause problems. That’s why the PIAA made its eventually failed attempt to define charters in a way that they would be treated like private schools. And they should be. I don’t care where the funding dollars come from, those schools act very much like private schools from admissions right down to extracurriculars.

  21. Rod,
    I have great sources telling me that some kids at Lincoln Park don’t even attend the school, but take classes online and only show up at the school to play basketball.
    Anybody with a shread of common sense can see the current Charter School setup has bent the rules every which way but loose and unless the PIAA can be proactive, the current system will continue to destroy high school basketball as we know it in this state.

  22. Atleast two charter schools, Sugar Valley and Hyndman, were created solely because the parents did not like the kids being folded into larger distant schools – Sugar Valley to Central Mountain must be an hour by schobus. But then there are likely other charter schools that operate like Vo-Techs. Most of those do not have separate athletics.

    You know there is a compromise for redistricting. Keep the present districts for governance, but do away with them for competition. For example,in wrestling, forget about districts. Divide each classification into 4 equal size regions of 56-68 schools then divide the regions into 4 sections. Of course the regions would not be congruent.. I don’t know if that makes a s much sense in other sports, but it seems so straightforward and simple for wrestling.

  23. Working backwards for convenience …

    Rich: Districts get all their income from playoffs. No playoffs, no money. Thus, no change.

    Bob: This may hark back to the legislation passed in the wake of Angstadt v. Midd-West (which failed in court), giving home schooled and other non-attending students the right to play sports. Assume we’ll have that on the plate Monday.

    Rod: I did a story with Juniata’s coach, assistant and wrestler who were previous finalists before states, and got interesting answers on the change ranging from “I hate it” to “I don’t give a crap.” And, to be fair, I had to say by Saturday night that it wasn’t the unmitigated disaster all of us on press row predicted.

    BUT … it’s not always about us — in this case, any of the “us” that resides on the floor. What about the fans? Were they happy with the arrangement?

    More important — what about the kids who were wrestling for place? We were so worried about a lack of spotlight on the No. 1 match that we forgot about the other three. Did anyone other than mom and dad see 20 seconds of the other AA matches when Gulibon was wrestling? How about the AAA place matches when Brill and Marstellar were wrestling? THOSE kids got screwed by this policy more than anyone.

    Did I like the timing, and not being at Giant Center until 11:30 after three 14-hour days? Damn straight. But we’ve all done it before — you and I certainly have, anyway — and we knew what we signed up for when we took the beat.

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