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New H.S. tourney entrants rule a good thing for wrestling

Commentary

At a time when there is a proposal to cut the number of weight classes in wrestling from 14 to 12, it’s good to see some tournaments are doing things to help wrestlers stay interested in the sport.

Tournaments like the Panther Holiday Classic, Eastern Area Invitational, King of the Mountain and others are allowing teams to enter multiple wrestlers at the same weight.

College tournaments have been doing this for awhile, and it’s great that high school tournaments are allowed to do this.

“I think it’s a good thing,” Central coach Dave Marko said, “because we need numbers. It’s one of the things that I see as more of a reason why we should not be cutting weight classes. We need to be providing more opportunities, not less. “I hope there are going to be a lot of tournaments throughout the year that do it because it’s the tournament director’s decision to do that. It’s not that they have to allow it. At the Panther Holiday Classic, they put a cutoff on how many guys that they were willing to take. I think the Bedford (Thomas Chevrolet) tournament is doing the same thing.”

Yes, there are limits to the new rule. Teams can’t enter backups at every weight, and only the starter’s results are compiled in the scoring.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Huntingdon coach and District 6 president Jon Mykut said of the new tournament rule. “We go up to the Panther Classic, and there are 43 teams. If everybody brought a kid for a weight class, and everybody brought a backup, it’s just not logistically possible. But for the weight classes that aren’t full like 106 and 113, it’s definitely a good thing for the sport.”

Having multiple wrestlers from the same team at a weight has led to some odd results. Altoona’s Colin Allmond and Josh Yost wrestled each other in the consolations at 182 at the Eastern Area Invitational. Chestnut Ridge’s Nathan Holderbaum finished fifth at 113 at the King of the Mountain. His backup at the time – Calan Bollman, who is now at 106 – finished third at the weight.

A check of the rosters of some programs shows that the interest for wrestling isn’t there. Some roster sizes in the area are in the single digits, and there have been several dual meets where there were seven or more forfeits.

Back in the heyday of wrestling, kids went out for the team and stayed on the team, even though they weren’t starting. It’s a lot different now. Some kids don’t go out because they figure they can’t make the lineup. Others go out, can’t make the lineup and end up quitting.

There used to be junior varsity dual meets before varsity matches and JV tournaments, but dual meets have slipped to maybe one or two exhibition bouts before the varsity match. There also seems to be less JV tournaments.

“We work really hard at Huntingdon to get our backups to JV tournaments and that kind of thing,” Mykut said. “It’s important for those kids to get out there and wrestle. Anything we can do in the sport to try to get your backup kids into a position where they can compete, that’s good.”

Todd Irwin can be reached at tirwin@altoonamirror.com. He can be followed on Twitter at @ToddIrwin1.

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