Major Changes Coming to High School Wrestling
April 27th, 2011 by Jim Field
BOONE – Wednesday, the Board of Control of the Iowa High School Athletic Association
adopted changes for the Traditional State Wrestling Tournament and the State Dual Team
The changes place the tournaments back-to-back in Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, and
comes with the support of the Wrestling Coaches Advisory Committee, discussions with the IHSAA
Representative Council, Board of Control and administrative groups, all supporting a three-day
traditional tournament, which will be contested in eight sessions. The change is effective in 2012
with the Dual Team State Meet on February 15 and the Traditional State Tournament, Feb. 16-18.
The Board of Control of the Athletic Association wants to thank the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar
Rapids where the State Dual Team Wrestling Tournament was since 1994. They were excellent
hosts for 17 years and their hospitality was second-to-none.
While the Cellular Center is not available for the 2012 dual team tournament due to renovations,
that is not the primary reason for the change. Changing the individual state tournament to a 3-day
format allows the state duals to be wrestled on eight mats in Wells Fargo Arena.
A three-day tournament was abandoned when Veterans’ Auditorium started its initial renovation
in 2003 and the number of place winners was expanded from six to eight. Due to those factors,
the crowds could no longer be adequately accommodated under the three-day state format.
Helping facilitate a return to a three-day state tournament are the fact that the quarterfinal and
semifinal rounds, and the corresponding consolations, will be wrestled on Friday; session starting
and ending times have been adjusted; and wrestling will take place on Saturday morning, which
was previously the IWCOA coaches’ breakfast and business meeting. Under the new format,
wrestlers losing in the quarterfinals will also have the opportunity for more recovery time before
their next competition.
Attendance at the traditional State Wrestling Tournament has averaged over 73,000 in the past
12 years and has had 22 straight Saturday night sell-outs. The State Dual Team Tournament,
which celebrated its 25th year this season, has averaged nearly 5,200 during the same period.
Time schedules for the traditional state tournament and the state team duals are posted on the
IHSAA website. The links to those schedules are:
The new changes also address a concern that teams that qualify for the State Dual Team
Tournament will not have wrestlers trying to hold their weight for an 18-day period. By having the
qualifying teams in Des Moines on Wednesday, there will be no need for excess travel in returning
home to work out wrestlers who did not qualify for the traditional tournament.
Following the Board of Control decision, the IHSAA immediately notified member schools
administrators and coaches via a mass email.
Assistant Executive Director Alan Beste, who is the IHSAA administrator at both wrestling
tournaments, commented on the changes by saying, “These changes are good for high school
wrestling in Iowa. Since going to a four-day state tournament the length of the tournament and
related loss of school time have been the major concerns of school administrators.”
Mr. Beste added, “Wrestlers who did not qualify for the state individual tournament, but who
needed to maintain their weight for state dual team has long been a concern of wrestling coaches.
These changes address those concerns and allow state duals to be wrestled back to eighth place.
Rick Wulkow, Executive Director of the Athletic Association, and the Board of Control, have been
advocates for addressing the concerns expressed by administrators and coaches for a number of
years and have now found a way to address those concerns.”
In other action items at Wednesday’s meeting, the Board of Control approved (1) the sites of the
Co-ed Track and Field District/Regional Meets; (2) assignments of team to baseball District and
Substate Tournaments; (3) approved a newly developed officials’ evaluation instrument that can be
done on-line; (4) reviewed the joint bowling committee recommendations for action later; and (5)
reviewed the current scrimmage, jamboree and practice location rules in basketball.
New Weight Classes
The wrestling changes come at the same time the NFHS adopted rule changes for the coming
year especially for weight classes. Effective this coming winter is the most significant change in
weight classes in 23 years with an upward shift of the weight classes, beginning with the 103-
pound class moving to 106 pounds, which resulted in new weights for 10 of the 14 classes. The
changes in weight classes, along with 17 other rules revisions, were subsequently approved by the
NFHS Board of Directors.
The 14 weight classes approved by the committee for 2011-12 are as follows: 106 (pounds), 113,
120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 182, 195, 220 and 285. Three middle weight classes –
145, 152 and 160 – were retained, although they are 7-8-9 in order now rather than 8-9-10. The
largest weight class (285 pounds) remains unchanged as well.
“The change in weight classes resulted from a three-to-four year process utilizing data from the
National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) Optimal Performance Calculator,” said Dale
Pleimann, chair of the NFHS Wrestling Rules Committee and former assistant executive director of
the Missouri State High School Activities Association. “The rules committee was able to analyze
data from almost 200,000 wrestlers across the country, with the goal to create weight classes that
have approximately seven percent of the wrestlers in each weight class.
“Throughout the process, each state association was kept completely informed and was provided
multiple opportunities for input. The results of the last survey of each state association indicated
that the majority of states favored a change, and the committee listened and acted accordingly.”
The last wholesale shift in weight classes occurred in 1988, when the lowest weight class was
increased from 98 to 103 pounds. The only other changes since then were in 2002, when the
number of classes went from 13 to 14 and the 215-pound weight class became mandatory, and in
2006, when the 275-pound class was increased to 285 pounds.
Other National Rule Changes
Among changes in wrestling holds, the Figure 4 around the head has been ruled an illegal
hold/maneuver. Previously, the Figure 4 was illegal around the body or both legs. “This move was
being used by high school wrestlers more and more on the head, so to minimize the risk of injury,
the committee voted to outlaw the Figure 4 on the head as well as around the body and both legs,”
said Bob Colgate, NFHS assistant director and liaison to the Wrestling Rules Committee.
Another significant change was made in Rule 2-1-3, which now makes the boundary line
inbounds and, thus, expands the wrestling area. Previously, a wrestler was out of bounds if he or
she was touching any part of the 2-inch-wide line which marks the wrestling area.
An additional exception was added to Rule 8-2-1 stating that if the second injury time-out is taken
at the conclusion of the second period, and the opponent already has the choice at the beginning
of the third period, the opponent would then have the added choice at the first restart after the
beginning of the third period.
“Previously, at the end of the second period and before the third period, Wrestler A takes his or
her second injury time-out, which now gives the choice to Wrestler B,” Colgate said. “However, it’s
already Wrestler B’s choice by virtue of the original flip of the disk. Therefore, Wrestler B gains no
advantage or benefit from Wrestler A’s second injury time-out. With this change, Wrestler B would
now have his or her choice at the first restart after the beginning of the third period.”
In other changes, a revision in Rule 3-1-13 allows the referee the flexibility to determine his or
her best position to monitor the clock and wrestlers during injury, blood or recovery time-outs. Also,
language in Rule 6-2-2 was changed from “forfeit” to “disqualification” to reflect correct terminology.
The rules committee also devoted considerable time to developing rules for multi-team dual
meets and team-formatted tournaments. Previously, the NFHS Wrestling Rules Book addressed
only dual meets and individually bracketed tournaments. Definitions for individually bracketed
tournaments, dual meet/team-formatted tournaments and combination tournaments will be
contained in Rule 1-3.
“In recent years, high school wrestling has moved from dual meets and individually bracketed
tournaments to tournaments incorporating a dual meet/team format,” Pleimann said. “The new
Rule 11 will provide rules coverage for this type of tournament format.”
“High school wrestling is in great shape across the country as participation numbers continue to
increase. The rules committee did propose 18 changes to the rules book, but approximately twothirds
of those changes resulted from incorporating the new dual meet/team format rules,”
The final change is one that has been approved by the NFHS Board of Directors for use in all
NFHS rules books regarding the meet referee’s jurisdiction. The rule extends the clerical duties of
the referee beyond the end of the meet through the completion of any reports required from actions
that occurred while the referees had jurisdiction.
Points of emphasis adopted by the committee for 2011-12 include communicable diseases, injury
time-outs, coach/referee conference, and concussion recognition and management.