West Virginia High
School Wrestling

West Virginia Wrestling -- February 1998 Forum (Part Four)

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February 20, 1998
From: Jim LeMaster
comments: I am posting this to clarify an earlier item. I did not mean to say that the coaches who are not fortunate enough to have a full team were not working hard. My statement about recruiting was meant to say get your whole school and community exited about wrestling. Some suggestions that can be used even at the middle school level.

1. Send or distribute newsletters to your returning or prospective wrestlers. Kids love to see their name in print! and . . . when you say you expect great things from them in the coming season and list all the things they are doing to get better such as who went to what open tournaments, camps, etc. it helps to keep them interested all year. It also lets them know they are wanted and expected to be successful.

2. Make a highlight video of this years matches and show some clips over the school TV system if it has one. If not set up a TV and VCR in the cafeteria during lunch or break time. Make it flashy and fast paced with the kids kind of music in the backround. They'll come to see what all this is about. If you can't make a video of your own, most colleges make these and will gladly sell you one very cheap as a recruiting tool. I have several of Ohio States and they are great!

3. Encourage each of your wrestlers to bring at least one buddy to the first meeting and introduce them to the sport. 4. Bookmark GREAT sites such as this one on your schools computers so the kids can find out info.

5. Get your cheerleader sponsor on your side. Very few schools have cheerleaders at their matches in WV but it is common other states. Guys appreciate a little female interest.

6. Put countdown signs up like " Your championship season begins in x number of days"

7. Order team T-Shirts - one of the best sources I have ever found is Martin Screen Prints. Have your returning wrestlers wear these often in the weeks prior to the season's start.

8. Contact former wrestlers in your community for support. Even if they didn't wrestle for your school, the love for the sport is still there. You'd be amazed how much they can help if you only ask. Also you might ask some former wrestlers who were very successful to speak to your recruiting meeting.

9. Have your wrestlers put on a demonstration clinic/ match in gym classes or at noon. What P.E. teacher wouldn't love for you to teach their class one day for them. Even if you can't wrestle in gym, you can show what the sport is like.

10. Visit football practice and let the football players know there is life after the season. Every one knows that wrestlers make better football players.

11. Try your best to get a PeeWee program going in your area. The value is incredible. Perhap you could donate some old headgear, etc. to get them started.

12. Establish a shoe bank. Ask your departing wrestlers to donate shoes they have outgrown. Run them through the washer and hand them out to those who need them when practice starts. Some kids would like to wrestle but can't afford it.

13. Find a former wrestler or fan who is an MD to do a group physical and weight cert. for the whole team, perhaps at a reduced rate. Some kids want to wrestle, but their parents won't pay for the physical or are unable to.

14. Ask your school librarian to subscribe to USA Wrestling, etc. and keep them in the library for kids who are interested. If the school won't buy it, perhaps a former wrestler or parent will donate a tax deductible subscription.

15. Keep every kid who comes out! Some guys who are terrible in the beginning get to be excellect wrestlers through hard work.

16. Invite the faculty of your school to be honored guests at a home match. Do a short clinic so they will understand the sport. They will feel honored and will go out of their way to help your program and have a new respect for your wrestlers.

These are only suggestions but they can surely build interest. Good luck to all in the regionals!

February 20, 1998
From: EB
email: Berry@Citynet.net
comments: Couple of comments:
1) Treat the disease, not the symptoms!! You don't increase enthusiam for a sport (or anything else for that matter) by decreasing opportunities. Therefore, since I am assuming we are still in the "building mode" in amatuer wrestling in WV, eliminating weight classes would not be a productive idea. A coaches outlook on the sport he represents has a large influence on the kids he/she comes in contact with. Does he/she go to clinics and camps in the off season? Have they encouraged freestyle in the off season? What about strength training? The antiquated rule still on WVSSAC books that prohibits coaches from having contact with their wrestlers in the off season is a recipe for mediocrity. I know the rule was put in place to remedy abuses of others of the past, but it is unfair to thwart the efforts of those willing to put forth the extra time. What about awarding 2 points for an offensive takedown (i.e. leg attack, etc.) and 1 point for a defensive takedown (short drag, spin behind, etc.)? How about more aggressive enforcement for stalling a la freestyle? Some of these suggestions may seem off the subject of eliminating weight classes. But my point is this: If there is a sense of excitement in an activity , there will be growth. My opinion. EB

February 20, 1998
From: EB
comments: Concerning the editors post from 2/20: What school sent the fewest qualifiers to the state tourney and returned home with the crown?

February 20, 1998
From: EB
email: Berry@citynet.net
comments: Hey Scheny:
Nice post about Higgins...I didn't know PHS had a wrestling program...did you guys just get started?

February 20, 1998
From: Jenny Sullivan
email: sullivj2@oak.cats.ohiou.edu
comments: I agree with Randy Bierce. Why should the schools who are able to field a full team be punished by removing two weight classes? And by this I'm not necessarily referring to Parkersburg South. They would be forfeiting quite a few of the lighter and heavier weight classes if their starters were injured. I personally would like to see less dual matches and more traditional tournaments where individuals can shine and teams don't need 14 men to do well.

February 20, 1998
From: The Editor
Interesting question - how many qualifiers do you need to win the states?
The way I figure it, the maximum points a wrestler can score in the state tournament is 30 if he pins his way through the finals. This is 16 place points for first, 6 advancement points total (2 points each time he advances on the bracket) and 8 bonus points for the 4 pins. So, if a team had six wrestlers "run the table" they would score 180 points (The extreme case). In 1996 Independence won the AA/A State Championship with 162.5 points, and Parkersburg South won AAA with 179.5 points. The number of qualifiers a team needs, and the number of points needed to win the team championship depends on how close the top 5 or 10 teams are. Here is an interesting number. Add up the team scores of the top ten teams in AA/A and AAA the past two years at the State Tournament. The numbers are 1050, 1053, 1102, 1146. One could say that the "average" top ten team score is 108 or so. If the top ten teams were extremely even, it might be mathematically possible to win the tournament with, say, 120 - 130 points. Four wrestlers pinning their way through the finals might do it.

It is mathematically possible for a team to lose every dual meet, and be the State Champ at the tournament. Suppose a team has only 6 wrestlers but they are supermen and pin their way through the finals at the tournament. They would score 180 points, enough to win the tournament depending on how strong the other teams are. However, if this same 6 man team wrestled duals against "full teams," they would lose every dual 48-30 (win 6 by pin and give up 8 forfeits).

So, what does this have to do with the price of tea in China? A few years ago I was doing team scores for a tournament, and got into quite a tiff with an individual who just couldn't understand how his team could be so far behind "team X" in the tournament scores, when his team had just defeated "team X" a few days earlier in a dual with the same wrestlers. Many fans are puzzled by this phenomenon. Without getting in to the nitty-gritty of tournament scoring, one way to look at it is this: Teams with a few very strong wrestlers do better in tournaments than in duals because their "big guns" have the opportunity to score points for the team repeatedly if they keep winning and advancing in the brackets. Just like a baseball team with one home run hitter, there is a chance to "go to bat" repeatedly and carry the team. If baseball games were run like dual meets in wrestling, then the home-run hitter would get one chance to bat, and then sit down the rest of the game.

So, which is the true test of how good a team is - the dual format or the tournament format? It depends. If your team defeats "team X" in a dual, then the dual format is clearly superior; If your team defeats "team X" in a tournament, then the tournament format is clearly superior. (smile).

February 20, 1998
From: R.S.
comments: They should cut two weight classes from what they have now. Doing so would not only make the individual competion better it would also make team competion better. In cases like AA-A, a larger school that can fill all of their weight class is going to score more points in a tourney with some less than par wrestlers. Then your small schools may have better individuals but not the numbers. You can no longer win State with six guys placing - you now need 10 or 11 place and that is more than some teams now put out. On the individual basis there would be less dodging of competion. Some of these kids are afraid to wrestle anyone good. You only get better by wrestling the best. Look at South -- they go out and find the best and they have to go out of state. You would have less kids cutting more weight than they should because they would have to beat some one tough along the line. Finally as a fan there would be better matches to go see. I have been to a lot of tourneys and quads, and have seen only a very few good matches.

February 20, 1998
From: Jenny Sullivan
email: sullivj2@oak.cats.ohiou.edu
comments: I heard yesterday that Jeremy Burris of Pt. Pleasant is wrestling at 119 for the regional tournament. Sorry, I don't know where the other Point wrestlers will be. One more thing: I just read in the paper this morning that Oak Glen has nine number 1 seeds in the AA/A Region 1 tournament.

February 20, 1998
From: half nelson
comments: Just for the sake of arguement, if WV were to adopt a 12 weight lineup, once again, what should it look like? Here is my 2 cents:
106, 114, 121, 128, 134, 141, 147, 155, 164, 175, 190, 275.
This would cut one weight class from the bottom half and one from the top. Just my $.02 worth. What do you think??

February 19, 1998
From: Randy Bierce
email: Hummmbert@aol.com
comments: Comments: Weight classes
I agree mostly with Coach LeMasters' points concerning weight classes. Tough to see how you can raise participation levels in the sport by cutting the number of opportunities for young men to compete. One of wrestling's big selling points is that more people get to participate than is the case with basketball. Why reduce this advantage? Also, I agree: cutting weight classes EQUALS more wrestlers cutting more weight; this is one of the less appealing aspects of the sport now.

Too many forfeits? That would seem to indicate problems with feeder programs and/or recruitment. Some feeder programs accent a "quality over quantity" approach that emphasizes spending the most time with experienced wrestlers and letting the new kids fend for themselves. I disagree with this approach, but that's me. I think it tends to create (are you ready for this?) forfeits at the upper levels that you're supposed to be feeding.

Recruitment efforts are vital, both at the Jr. High/Middle School and High School levels. There are lots of young men who love the challenge of doing something that is "not for everyone." Wrestling is a tough sport: that is a drawback and a selling point.

Where should the weight classes be? How about where the most wrestlers participate: in the middle weights. It seems to me the most forfeits are received at 75 lbs and 165 lbs in JHS/MS action. The other classes seems to be pretty well filled at most schools. But I think it's cyclical. Last year, Sherrard had 5 heavyweights, most years we're lucky to have one.

Work harder, don't throw in the towel!! Reducing the number of weight classes seems to be a nice way to penalize the schools that have built larger squads, while rewarding those that should strive to do better on this count.

On the subject of "cutting weight classes to keep fan interest"? What kind of fans are we trying to keep? I would think knowledgeable fans of the mat sport understand that there are a number of reasons other than lack of participation for forfeits: sickness, injuries, not making weight, If lack of forfeits builds fan interest, use 110, 125, 150 and 200 and pack the gym. While still the most dramatic and entertaining, I believe you'll find the single dual becoming more and more an endangered species anyway. OK, that's MY 2-cents worth on the subject. Hopefully, no one out there's ready to become the Unibomber over this subject...

February 19, 1998
From: Scheny@wirefire.com
Comments: The outstanding contributors page lists the WV All-Americans back to 1990. There are more than that. Parkersburg has 12 (more than any other school) and I know there are many from other schools as well. Also, Tim Higgins (PHS) an undefeated state champ and 4th place finisher at the High School Nationals in 1995 was not listed. An honest mistake I'm sure.
Editor's note: Right you are, an honest mistake. If anyone has good information about other High School All-Americans who should be listed, let us know and we will keep tinkering with these pages until we get them close to correct. We have discovered 3 errors in the State Tournament Champions listings which have been corrected on this website, and need to correct any others which somebody may notice.

February 19, 1998
From: Tag
comments: I wonder if anyone has looked at the projections for the number of fans attending the WV States and realize it is growing each year. Good seats have been at a premium the past 8 years while the opposite side reserved for wrestlers is virtually empty. If fan support is to continue and grow, they will need to some how use some of that space for the more popular later rounds.

February 19, 1998
comments: Now that Marshall has 15 million dollars for their athletic programs, will they bring back thier wrestling program?

February 19, 1998
From: Miss Kitty
comments: Good luck 2 Midland at regionals this weekend. I know U can beat Huntington. Dont B afraid 2 hog the spotlight. U deserve it just as much. C-ya there. Go Knights!!!

February 19, 1998
comments: Good luck to all Ripley wrestlers in the regionals and states! Win by pin!

February 19, 1998
From: coach2
comments: I have been an avid reader of this site since creation. I have been involved in W.V. high scoool wrestling since 1976. This involvment includes being there as a spectator, wrestler, and the past several years as a coach . This being my first time post ever to this site, want to commment on the weight class discussion. IF we as a state don't reduce weight classes we will continue to lose competetive equality we have been striving for years to get. The reasons are many for reducing classes and as time goes it will become evident. The big question 'WHICH ONES DO WE ELIMINATE?' I have some suggestion in this area and reasons for, I would like to see the weight classes go like such...103,112,118,126,134,142,150,158,167,177,190,275. Have you ever seen these before?

February 19, 1998
From: Homer Southwood
comments: To Jim LeMaster
As High School has an optional weight class (#215) that is adopted by the State Association, I believe Jr. High also has optional weight classes, #65, #70 and #185. Pro sports have well documented that today's athlete is bigger than yesteryear's and I believe the same is true in our schools. I believe a three year high school finds it harder to fill the lighter weights than does a four year high school. You will also find overall attendence is down in schools but with consolidation, the smaller high schools are becoming a thing of the past.

February 19, 1998
From: Stinger
comments: Does anyone know the status of Point Pleasant's 112, 119,and 125? Jenny Sullivan mentioned in her Region Preview that Jeremy Burris was at 125 now. I saw that he wrestled 125 against Midland and Russel was at 119, with Clemente at 112. What happened to Beau Hill? Where are they wrestling Saturday?

February 18, 1998
From: half nelson
comments: To Jim LeMaster:
Jim, I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of students lack of participation. But I know of instances where coaches recruit kids, have feeder programs and still forfeit weight classes. The fact that kids are less inclined to participate - for a variety of reasons - supports the argument that fewer classes are needed to keep FAN interest in our sport. Believe me, I would love to see us keep 14 classes, but it's just not practical.

I also agree that there needs to be some realignment of weight classes; but in so doing, especially in high school, I would still lobby for one or two fewer classes. Don't forget that the NCAA has 10 classifications. I love this sport and am concerned about its future. Some serious discussions need to be held between knowledgeable wrestling people to decide a positive course of action. I've always wished for a marketing campaign, for example. I believe that people, like yourself, who have a true compassion for the support should have open discussions and plan for the future.

February 18, 1998
From: wills
comments: I would like to congratulate Jeremy Adkins on his victory over Jason Johnson. I think John Marshall will place first in states overall. Watch out for Bob Wilson, he's on fire!!!

February 18, 1998
From: Jim LeMaster
comments: In response to the comments about elimination of one or more weight classes - let's look at each of the reasons this could be done.

Too many forfeits - I feel that is a sad commentary on the state of athletics in our schools today. The fact of the matter is that it is not overall numbers but the number of athletes who are willing to work hard enough to become wrestlers. There are too many pampered prima donna pretty boys who are afraid to work and sweat a little. If you can't find at least 12 -14 weight classes in a high school someone is not recruiting hard enough. As a middle school coach, we field a full team + extra wrestlers every year and most high schools are larger than our middle school. Also we only can draw from grades 7 and 8 as 6th graders are not eligible. All high schools have at least 3 if not 4 grades to recruit from. If we could establish viable feeder school programs at the middle and Jr. High levels for all the high schools, the problem would be solved.

Secondly, I feel that eliminating weight classes would lead to more drastic weight cutting which we all know needs to be avoided especially in light of the recent tragedies that have painted our sport with "the ugly brush."

Lastly, our sport provides a place for smaller athletes at 103 and 112 to excell even if they are too small for football or heaven forbid basketball.

I do feel that some realignment of classes is in order to equalize the poundage difference, but there needs to be more classes where there are more athletes (in the middle weights). I think by far the largest travesty occurs in the Jr. High and Middle ranks where anything over 165 is considered a heavyweight with a 275 maximum. Last year my two 8th grade heavyweights were 220 and 267. I also had a 7th grade heavyweight around 175. He gave up almost 100 pounds at times! This year my 165 lb'er missed weight at a tournament by 1/2 pound and wrestled a kid who had weighed over 300 during football and cut to 275. He had to run the day of the tournament to make 275. This was actually over a 100 lb difference. Let a 125 pounder try a 230 lb'er on for size? I think not! This constitutes a "clear and present danger" of serious injury yet we have not been able to establish a class around 190 or so for Jr. High and middle. Kids are larger these days and this needs to be done.

Sorry about the long post, but I'd like to see how other coaches feel about this issue. Especially you middle and Jr. High guys out there. Let's hear from you!

February 18, 1998
From: wrestlers dad
comments: In regards to the toughest weight classes in AA. Every one who has been around high school wrestling knows that some kids that have been beaten by certain kids move to a different weight class. This increases their chances of doing well. I would agree that the 112 class has some quality wrestlers in it. So does 103. I also have seen over the years that a young man gets better by wrestling and getting thumped once in awhile. So to get my 2 cents in on this toughest weight class question I have a thought for all of you. How many wrestlers in 103, 112, 125 are there to avoid 119? With that being said, good luck to all wrestlers at the state tournament.

February 18, 1998
From: Brent Sams
comments: Unofficially John Marshall is currently winning AAA Region I 21-18 over Parkersburg South. Wrestlers with byes in the first round are guaranteed sixth place points simply by making weight. Unofficial team scores before wrestling begins are:
1) 21 points - John Marshall (7 byes)
2) 18 - Parkersburg South (6)
3) 15 - Parkersburg (5)
4T) 9 - Brooke (3)
4T) 9 - University (3)
6) 6 - Wheeling Park (2)
7) 3 - Morgantown (1)

February 18, 1998
From: Braxton Fan
comments: Look for good rematch with Stewart and Basford in 152lb this weekend at Region 2. I look for Underwood and Lehman in finals at 189 lb

February 18, 1998
From: Jenny Sullivan
E-mail: sullivj2@oak.cats.ohiou.edu
To Rookie: Wow, is this your first trip to the state tournament? If so, you're in for a real treat! If you're supporting a particular team, you shouldn't have any problem deciding where to sit. Now that the tournament has been in Huntington for the last several years, the fans for each team have kind of established their own "territory", although on Saturday sometimes things can get a little heated when fans are competing for seats in the same section. Last year Coach Archer opened up a section on the other side of the Civic Center (usually reserved for wrestlers and coaches), which was one of the best moves he could have made. Let's hope he does the same this year. (I personally would be happy to pay big bucks for a reserved seat, but I've been told reserved seating won't work). If you're just coming as an overall wrestling fan, there is one big section in the middle where you can see both AAA and AA matches pretty well. I used to sit there until I found some buddies to save me a choice seat down front.

I don't know what to tell you about socializing or meeting people. I usually stay in my seat the whole time because I don't want to miss anything. There are a bunch of people I want to meet this year, so I'm not sure how I'm going to go about finding them. You'll always find plenty of folks along the wall where the brackets are listed.

You'll find ALL kinds of people at the state tournament. I'm sure that nearly every wrestler there has his own contingent of family and friends, but you'll also find lots of people like me who just come to the tournament every year because they're addicted. And last year over 100 former state champions showed up on the final day of the tournament, so there's a mixture of family, friends, fans, and wrestlers past, present and future in attendance.

A few final words of advice: Get there early but be prepared to stand in line anyway, be sure to buy a Herald-Dispatch every day (last year they had a great color insert every day of the tournament), and if you need a room and haven't gotten one yet, good luck finding one - they go fast!

February 18, 1998
From: Coach
comments: There needs to be something done about 14 weight classes but it should not be to take away the 215 class. Maybe the weight should change to 200. Maybe the classes that are from 119-145 one of the these could be dropped. There are only 5 pounds separating these classes. Look at 160-171-189. 11 then 18 pounds separate these classes. At any rate there are some changes needed but alot of thought needs to be put into it.

February 17, 1998
name: rookie
comments: To jenny: any advice to somebody you might be making the first trip to the state tourneament? the best place to sit? best place to socialize? the best place to meet? etc?? you sound like a knowledgable fan...are most of the fans the parents of the wrestlers??? love to hear your advice and response for a rookie??

February 17, 1998
From: half nelson
comments: I have heard rumors that Pennsylvania is going back to 12 weight classes beginning next year. Does anyone know whether this true? At any rate, I think changing to fewer weight classes is a great idea. How many forfeits are we seeing? Way too many, that's how many! Many of the large schools can't even fill all fourteen classes, let alone the smaller schools.

In order to keep, and increase, interest in the sport we need to change directions. Reducing the number of weight classes would be a positive step. Dual meets, in general, aren't as exciting, because of the number of forfeits. It is no fun to go to a meet and watch seven or eight matches (if that many) with six forfeits. With the increased number of classes it increases the probability of having a greater number of forfeits. For example, with fourteen weight classes, each team could have twelve wrestlers, yet the match could contain four forfeits, and too often this is what is happening.

Lastly, it obviously waters down the competition. At most schools, if they fill both 215 and 275, one of the two would be a JV 275 pounder. My hat is off to Pennsylvania (IF TRUE) for recognizing, and doing something to improve our sport.

I know many will not agree, but if you were to chart dual meets throughout the state, you would realize the magnitude of the problem.

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Updated February 16, 1998