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After 23 years, prep wrestling is finally getting (a little) bigger

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

For the first time in 23 years, high school wrestling is getting bigger … if only slightly.

According to numerous sources -- the National Federation of State High Schools (NFHS) Wrestling rules committee most prominent among them -- 10 of the 14 weight classes currently used in high school wrestling will be revised slightly upwards, with only the 142, 152 and 160-pound classes and the heavyweight 285-pound division remaining as they are.

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Pennsylvania high school wrestling

Pennsylvania high school wrestling

"The change in weight classes resulted from a three-to-four-year process utilizing data from the National Wrestling Coaches Association Optimal Performance Calculator," Dale Pleimann, chair of the NFHS Wrestling Rules Committee, said in a statement released on Tuesday.

"The rules committee was able to analyze data from almost 200,000 wrestlers across the country, with the goal to create weight classes that have approximately 7 percent of the wrestlers in each weight class."

The largest increase among the weights which will become official for the 2011-12 season will be in what was formerly the 189-pound class, which will expand to include all wrestlers at or below 195 pounds. The 215-pound class will also notably increase its weight limit to 220 pounds, while the minimum weight group will balloon by three pounds from 103 to 106 pounds.

While a majority of the weight adjustments are just a single pound upwards, those larger category adjustments, as well as a couple others, could present a significantly safer weigh-in culture for a sport in which athletes routinely go to borderline masochist lengths to cut water weight on the day of a competitive weigh in.

Those health issues were specifically cited as motivation for the recent proposed weight changes, though input from different state associations -- who are partly responsible for monitoring those weight fluctuations more closely (via their member schools themselves) -- did play a key role in both inspiring and rubber stamping the weight changes.

"Throughout the process, each state association was kept completely informed and was provided multiple opportunities for input," Pleimann's statement read. "The results of the last survey of each state association indicated that the majority of states favored a change, and the committee listened and acted accordingly."

Hopefully the changes will help ease the strain currently placed on high school wrestlers, even if some of the sweat box weigh-in traditions that have emerged over the decades are bound to continue.

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