BOONE - With Emmetsburg's E-Hawks opening their 2011-12 mat campaign tonight, when they host West Hancock and Forest City, wrestling fans will notice some changes in high school wrestling this season. These changes follow action taken earlier this year by the Board of Control of the Iowa High School Athletic Association.
Most notable are two changes - the first to the State Tournaments, and the second in the lineup of weight classes for competitors.
The first major change to wrestling comes as the Traditional State Wrestling Tournament and the State Dual Team Tournament will take place back-to-back for the first time, with both being held in Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, starting on Feb. . 15, 2012.
The Dual Team State Tournament will start the tournament stand on that Wednesday, at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, after a 17-year stint at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids.
After the State Duals are held on Feb. 15, the traditional Individual State Wrestling Tournament will start on Thursday, Feb. 16 at Wells Fargo, and will feature eight sessions of action in three days of action, culminating with the Championship Round on Saturday, Feb. 18.
While the U.S. Cellular Center would not be available for the 2012 dual team tournament due to renovations, that is not the primary reason for the change in location and date. Changing the individual state tournament to a three day format allows the state duals to be wrestled on eight mats in Wells Fargo Arena.
The three-day state individual tournament was abandoned when Veterans' Auditorium started its initial renovation project in 2003 and the number of place winners was expanded from six to eight. Due to those factors, the wrestling crowds could no longer be adequately accommodated under the three-day state format.
Also helping facilitate a return to a three-day state tournament was the fact that the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds and the corresponding consolations matches will be wrestled on Friday, while the various session starting and ending times have been adjusted so that 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.
The second major change comes with the adoption of new weight classes, with an upward shift in weight classes, beginning with the 103-pound class moving to 106 pounds, which creates new weights for 10 of the 14 classes.
The 14 weight classes 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 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.
Some other changes include a rule change in rules that 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.
Another significant change to wrestling rules for the upcoming season now makes the boundary line on the mat inbounds, which 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 on the mat.
In other changes, the referee now has the flexibility to determine his or her best position to monitor both the clock and wrestlers during injury, blood or recovery time-outs.
Also, language was changed from "forfeit" to "disqualification" to reflect correct terminology.