PIAA NOTES: Organization finalizes move from 14 to 13 wrestling weight classes

The (Wilkes-Barre) Citizens' Voice (TNS)
Dallastown's Blake Feeney, top, and Gettysburg's Max Gourley wrestle in the 182-pound weight class last December. Under a reduction in weight classes approved by the PIAA on Wednesday, the 182-pound class has essentially been eliminated.

Forfeits had been tipping the scales for smaller wrestling teams, so the PIAA has decided to take some weight off their shoulders.

During Wednesday’s PIAA Board of Directors meeting, a third-and-final reading was approved to reduce the number of weight classes from 14 to 13, beginning with the 2020-21 season.

The weight classes from 106-160 pounds will remain the same, as will the heavyweight limit of 285. But what was formerly the 170-, 182-, 195- and 220-pound divisions will be consolidated into 172, 189 and 215.

Thin lineups and forfeited bouts led the PIAA to proposing a rules change to the National Federation of State High School Associations. But the NFHS stayed put at 14 classes for the upcoming season, leading to a PIAA wrestling steering committee to approve a recommendation to its own rules modification.

An initial idea called for a drop to 12 weight classes. But that model proposed a raise in the minimum weight to 110 pounds, sparking some concern that lighter wrestlers trying to participate would be put at a disadvantage.

The new weight class structure about to be implemented keeps the lowest weight at 106 pounds. It also means only one fewer class to wrestle in — a positive for the teams that never have to worry about filling a roster but now have a tougher time choosing starters.

Though the drop from 14 to 13 weights doesn’t seem steep, it can help make dual meets more competitive in certain situations. A forfeit costs a team six points, or the equivalent of giving up a pin.

Options for sub-varsity football: The PIAA also passed on a final read a rule that will allow junior high, ninth-grade and junior varsity football teams to play under modified rules in certain situations.

Both coaches would have to sign off on the arrangement prior to competition. The PIAA hopes it will serve as a better learning opportunity in certain situations.

Among the notable modifications coaches can agree to for a game:

Kickoff modifications: Team that wins contest can choose to start at own 35-yard line rather than receive the kickoff; the same rule can be used after any team scores; during punts, the receiving team can opt to take possession 35 yards from the last spot of the ball

Scrimmage modifications: Maximum of 90 minutes; each team will run 10 plays and alternate possessions, and it’s optional to use down-and-distance situations; there shall be no more than 80 combined plays and there will be no score

Sanctioning sports: Mark Byers said the emerging sports committee wants to explore a policy similar to the NCAA that would streamline how sports like girls' wrestling or rugby can become sanctioned PIAA sports.

He said the conversation arose as a push for girls' wrestling has increased, with a smattering of schools in the state adopting the sport in recent months. Byers said there is no proposal for a policy yet but hopes to have one at a future meeting.

State championships: The board also said the Giant Center will host PIAA competitive spirit, team wrestling, individual wrestling and basketball championships for the next four years beginning with the 2020-2021 school year.

The PIAA swimming and diving championships will return to Bucknell University for the same period.