Being from New Jersey, I spent all of middle and high school on a wrestling mat and today it is still my favorite sport. It has a team element with emphasis on you as an individual, there are basically two seasons in one and it makes you mentally tough. That said, there are several differences in the rules between college and high school as well as across the different styles if wrestling that should be seriously looked at to implement on the high school level. Here are some ideas that I think would improve the sport.
Add One Weight Class on Both the High School and College Level
As it stands now, there are 14 weight classes in high school and 10 in college. The biggest difference adding a weight class would do is resolve all tiebreaker issues and make the only tiebreaker for dual meets be which team won the most matches. Given that there is a large gap in weight difference in college between 197 and heavyweight (285) and the fact that high school has a weight in between those two classes (220), a weight could be added here. For high school, it is a bit more difficult. Some states have a 99-pound weight class, but it is typically filled by freshman and sophomores. That would be the easiest thing to do while weight classes would need to be reshuffled in the event that a new weight classes is wedged in elsewhere. The other idea is to simply remove a weight class, but I have a hard time justifying that as it takes away recruiting opportunities for high school wrestlers.
Award a Point to the Offensive Wrestler When Shooting Someone Off of the Mat
A rule currently enforced in freestyle, this would push for more action and force wrestlers to stay in the center of the mat rather than skimming the edges and stalling out a lead late in a match.
Give a Stalling Warning to Both Wrestlers if the First Period is Scoreless
Another rule to push for more action in a match. It’s a lot harder to stall late in a match when you don’t have the benefit of a stalling warning that you can sit on, especially in the high school level when referees tend to be a bit slower to call it.
Introduce Freestyle Wrestling in the Fall and Greco-Roman in the Spring
The United States is the only country that has folkstyle wrestling and it’s used in all scholastic levels. Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling are both Olympic sports and introducing the two events at the high school level would increase access potential wrestlers have. Of course, it’s beneficial to play other sports, like football in the fall and lacrosse in the spring, to prevent burnout, but having the option there would be ideal.
Have a Dual Meet Between State Champions in State with Multiple Champions
In New Jersey, only one wrestler sits atop the podium, which is why it’s crazy to me that so many states have multiple state champions, typically broken up by the size of the school. After the state sectionals are concluded, each state champion should face off against one another to determine the true No. 1 in the state.
Introduce Riding Time
Personally, I think this would be the hardest rule to implement, though it sounds great in theory. On the college level, if one wrestler is on top for a minute longer than his opponent, he receives an additional point, which can be the difference-maker in a tie match or when trying to secure bonus points. The question is – who would handle the clock? Managers maintain the scorebook and easily forget to turn off the clock when an opposing wrestler escapes, and it could be even harder during tournaments. During dual meets, the scoreboard operator could also maintain the clock. I think this may be something that would have to be introduced on a trial basis for a year before deciding if it is worth keeping.
BONUS: Enhance Riding Time for College Wrestlers
A bonus since it is focused on the NCAA level only, but I think riding time can be even more significant. There have been plenty of matches where the offensive wrestler has locked up sometimes as much as six minutes of riding time (which is absurd!). I think riding time should not be limited to just one point, but instead one point per minute. If the offensive wrestler has three minutes of riding time, he gets three points. If he only has one minute, he only gets on point. Along with increasing the potential for getting more team points, it also adds a forced incentive for the bottom man to continue to try and escape.