Weight a minute: Change draws criticism

<p>Entrup</p>

Wrestlers have come up with some pretty creative ways to lose weight fast over the years.

Now some will be looking for ways to add pounds of lean muscle thanks to a rules change for the upcoming season.

The National Federation of State High School Associations Board of Directors approved an upward shift in weight classes effective this season — a decision that has most of the area’s, and the country’s for that matter, coaches up in arms over what the NFHS Board called the “most significant changes” to high school weight classes in the last 23 years. The board cited a nationwide study as the impetus for the changes.

Gone is the 103-pound weight class, now shifted up to 106. New is a 195-pound weight class, while most of the others got some sort of shift. The new lineup will go:?106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 182, 195, 220, 285.

It might not seem like a big deal to outsiders, but the area’s wrestling coaches have assured me it’s a huge change.

Pendleton coach Fred Phillips echoed sentiments felt by other coaches I?talked to when putting together season previews.

“You know they took a weight right out of the middle and moved it to the big guys and I?don’t know what they were thinking because that’s where a majority of high school kids are going to be, from 125 to 160,”?he said. “I?don’t know if that’s a case of the fattening of America or not but we’ve just opened up another weight class where the wrestling is not as strong.”

Phillips, like other coaches, said heavyweights tend to be athletes that prefer other sports but just wrestle in the winter to stay in shape.

“Those bigger kids tend to be football players that wrestle for something to do,”?he said. “The little guys are wrestlers that go and do something else for something to do and I’m not happy with the decision they’ve made.”

Phillips pointed to athletes like Pendleton freshman Tristan Holcomb for an example. As successful as his junior high campaign was, Phillips said Holcomb would have been eaten alive on the mats had he tried to wrestle at 97 pounds — where he weighed in during the fall.

But Holcomb has added six pounds to his frame since then and is expected to perform well for the Bucks. Not every small wrestler will be able to add the weight, though.

“We’ve taken a weight class away from our little guys and it’s really the one sport where little guys can come in and hold their own and compete,” Phillips said. “Wrestling is supposed to be for everybody. We moved the bottom weight class to 106.

“So if you have a 99 pound kid he might have been able to compete a little bit at 103 but now you’re going to make it 106 and it’s going to go to 108. That bothers me because we’ve taken something away from the little guys and like I?say, this sport is supposed to be for everybody.”

I can empathize with what Phillips and other area coaches are saying, although I?was one of those that used wrestling as something to do in the winter — and even that was short lived thanks to a broken fibula.

Although I?never developed a love for the sport like so many do, I?still look back fondly at the time I?spent in the wrestling room at my high school and the lessons I?learned there about hard work and its direct link to success.

I?know the NFHS?Board had the right intentions in changing the weight classes and who knows, maybe it will make for more competitive matches, I?just wish they could have found a better way to do it.

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