When Christmas Day dawned all over the state, high school wrestlers were given a huge gift. And the gift, oddly enough, was from the PIAA, which has taken its share of criticism because of rule changes in recent years.
Usually, the two-pound weight allowance, which allows a wrestler to weigh two pounds over the weight they're wrestling at, begins on Jan. 15. But this year, it began on Christmas.
Some coaches won't like it because it gives kids with weight issues an easier road, and it allows wrestlers to drop down to the next weight earlier than in previous years.
But, it says here anything that gives wrestlers a break is a very good thing.
Last year, a weight was cut out of the middle of the lineup, where most wrestlers are positioned, and added to the upper weights. Also last year, state finalists had to share the same spotlight as those wrestling for third, fifth and seventh place at the Giant Center. Both changes, especially the finals change, were bad ideas.
This one is a welcome one for wrestlers. They sacrifice, cut down on meals and run and train to keep the weight off - sometimes up until it's time for them to weigh in - just to step on the mat and do what they love to do.
Another rule change this involves stalling. When someone is hit with a third stall call, his opponent gets two points and the choice of position on the next restart. That change was more of a gift for more aggressive wrestlers and those who hate seeing stalling. We'll see if it prevents stalling.
There were a couple more Christmas gifts under the tree like:
n The Bedford-Chestnut Ridge match. As always, the backyard rivals put on a display of ability, emotion and patience, and, of course, the unexpected happened with Ridge's Bradie Bollman spladling Bedford's Michael Brett, pinning him in 19 seconds and helping the Lions win, 39-32.
We'll very likely get treated to another match between Ridge and Bedford, who are the top two teams in the Mirror rankings, in the District 5 Duals on Feb. 2. Heck, they could be the top teams in the Thomas Tournament a week earlier. Ridge made up a lot of ground on Bedford last year. Bedford won't have to make up that much ground the next time.
By the way, check out the rankings. There are some very deep weights and will change a lot.
n Some good reading. I would suggest Tom Elling's Wrestling Handbook, and a subscription to the Pennsylvania Wrestling Newsmagzine. Elling's book has been reduced to 355 pages, but it still has a massive amount of information and photos. To buy it, go to his state web site.
PWN, owned by former Hollidaysburg coach Joe Baranik, includes reports on districts throughout the state, college wrestling reports, profiles on some of the best wrestlers and even junior high rankings. To get it, go to www.pawrestling.net or send $26.95 to PWN, 409 Mill Road, Duncansville, PA, 16635 with your address information and e-mail.
Altons in trouble
It's not clear how Penn State coach Cael Sanderson will handle the situation with Andrew and Dylan Alton.
The twins, who graduated from Central Mountain and are both starting for the Nittany Lions, were cited for disorderly conduct, public drunkenness and harassment in Lock Haven last Friday. According to a Centre Daily Times report, a male and female victim received minor injuries.
Andrew Alton is 8-0 and is ranked fifth at 149, while Dylan Alton is 7-2 and ranked fifth at 157.
Todd Irwin can be reached at 946-7464 or at email@example.com. He can be followed on Twitter at ToddIrwin1.