Some high school wrestling coaches having a hard time filling weight classes wanted a reduction in the number of weights.
Instead, after a vote by the National Federation of State High School Association wrestling rules committee during its April 4-6 meeting, the 14 weights will be retained, but new weight classes have been created.
Starting in 2011-2012, the new weights will be: 106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 182, 195, 220 and 285. Only 145, 152, 160 and 285 were retained from the previous weight classes. The PIAA follows NFHS rules, so the new weights will be in place.
It's the first major change in weights since 1988. The 215-pound weight class was added in 2002, and the heavyweight class went from 275 to 285 in 2006.
The new weights are obviously heavier than the previous ones. There's now four weights 182 pounds or heavier, while there was three from 189 to 285 under the old format.
Reaction among area coaches was mixed.
"I'm not real nuts about them," Claysburg-Kimmel coach Dave Marko said. "The biggest thing is they took away weights between 119 and 145, and those are the most dedicated wrestlers. You get a lot of athletic kids in those weights."
"I personally like it, to be honest," Altoona coach Joel Gilbert said. "It spreads out the upperweights, and I think it's fair to those kids who instead of a 20-pound jump in weight only have to jump up 10 pounds."
"I'm not in favor of it or against it," Bellwood-Antis coach Ron Wilson said. "I think it's going to present problems for our team. I know from our standpoint, we'll have a bunch of smaller kids next year."
"I'm kind of on the fence," Bedford coach Brian Creps said. "Our society seems to be getting bigger. As far as the new weights, I don't know if it's top heavy or we were top light before. I think the goal of the NFHS was balancing it all out. Wrestling is a sport for little guys, and we might have been neglecting the big guys."
"I guess they're trying to do the right thing," Huntingdon coach Jon Mykut said. "I'm a little disappointed about them removing a weight between 130 and 140. I think your best wrestlers are in that area. That will make it that much tougher for wrestlers in those weights. It's definitely top-heavy, so I have mixed emotions."
"It will be interesting," Central Cambria coach Bob Nikolishen said. "I'll be anxious to see how teams are going to fill those upper weights. I'll be honest, it's going to be a pain trying to fill them."
According to a NFHS press release, the change in weights came following a three to four-year process involving data from the National Wrestling Coaches Association optimal performance calculator.
"Throughout the process, each state association was kept completely informed and was provided multiple opportunities for input," rules committee chairman Dale Pleimann said in the release.
"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 NFHS appears to have moved quickly with the new weights being installed for next season rather than the following year.
"I thought everything went in two-year cycles before they implemented anything," Tyrone coach Blair Packer said. "I believe we're in the middle of a two-year cycle."
"I was surprised that it was for next season," Gilbert said. "We heard about the new weights, but we were not really sure it was going to happen."
"I think we all kind of knew it was coming," Mykut said. "Last year at regionals, it was being kicked around. Usually, when the federation implements something, it's usually for the next year."
Many coaches were hoping that at least the 103-pound weight class, which is the hardest weight to fill, and is often filled by freshmen, would be eliminated. Some wanted at least one more weight dropped.
"I know there are are a lot of forfeits, but personally, I like the 14 weight classes," Mykut said. "When you have 13, you decrease the participation of the kids. But I can see the small schools' point of view."
"I think the national federation was trying to get as many kids as they could out," Creps said. "They wanted to have more participation, but for smaller schools in our area it's going to be tough. I think keeping it at 14 was a good move."
"I definitely voted against that," Nikolishen said. "I'm in favor of more weight classes. If we have to forfeit, we have to forfeit. We'll have to give kids more opportunity to wrestle."
There were a couple of other major rule changes. The figure four around the head was ruled an illegal hold. Previously, the figure four was illegal around the body and both legs, but legal around the head.
Also, the outer circle is now inbounds. Previously, a wrestler who was touching any part of the line was ruled out of bounds.
"I really like that rule," Nikolishen said.