By: Scott Keyes
MHSAA should alter wrestling weight classes
Sports Scene Columnist
It's no secret, high school enrollments in the state of Michigan are dwindling more and more each year. Northern schools have been hit especially hard, though schools everywhere have seen the effects of the state's struggling econmy. To help combat a drop in student numbers, the Michigan High School Athletic Association developed eight-man football in the fall of 2009. They should consider adapting a similar strategy for varsity wrestling as well.
Sitting at a high school wrestling meet, it seems to be a contest of whether a coach can juggle his lineup against the other team's lineup to see who can get the most voids, rather than letting the student athletes settle it on the mats against another opponent.
Is this really the best way to find out who has the best team? Perhaps, if the MHSAA set standards that schools falling into division four enrollment wise, would only have to feature 10 weight classes instead of the current 14.
Sure, there would still probably be a fair amount of voids, especially in the lower weight classes, but if the right weight classes were put forth the voids would diminish. Instead of coaches juggling their lineups to get voids they will have to use strategy more, aiming to get a good match up, instead of trying to get as many wrestlers as they could have their arm raised by the official without even a single drop of sweat.
There are sure to be opponents to this idea, much like there was to the MHSAA adapting the 8-man football policy before it. Some might say that schools need to work to build their program, recruit more athletes to join or start a youth program to build for the future. While all these ideas are good, it doesn't necessarily help a school that has no control over the amount of students that walk its hallways. The positives could help current teams with small rosters compete in duals and even help schools without teams start up teams. If installed, this idea would give more teams a chance at conference, district, regional and state championships.
When it comes down to it, if any changes are made it should only be done if its best for the sport. Is it better for parents and fans to sit in a gym and watch a pair of high school teams void it out, or would you rather see actual matches decide the outcome of the meet?