Board tables a weighty decision
By John Millea, Star Tribune
A proposal to reduce the number of weight classes in Minnesota high school wrestling from 14 to 12 was tabled today. The Minnesota State High School League board of directors voted to conduct a survey of schools before revisiting the plan, which was proposed by the Minnesota High School Wrestling Coaches Association.
The coaches argue that small schools have trouble filling 14 roster spots, and that losing two weights on each team is preferable to losing entire squads every time two schools merge to form cooperative teams.
The coaches group has polled its members, with 70 percent of the respondents voting to reduce the number of weights, according to Elk River coach John Peterson, past president of the coaches association.
"It's time to act," Peterson told the board. "We've discussed this issue extensively for four years. We do represent the wishes of an overwhelming majority of our coaches. The time has come to settle this issue once and for all."
Wabasha-Kellogg coach Ron Sanders and John Thorn, a wrestling parent from St. Michael-Albertville, spoke against the proposal. Sanders said a change in weight classes will negatively impact schools such as his, which competes against several teams from Wisconsin every year. He also questioned the coaches association's survey results.
"I'm confused on how these votes got the way they did," Sanders said. "I never got the chance to vote for 14 weights. Just about every coach I've talked to wants 14 weights."
Thorn said, "Minnesota wrestling is in great shape. Anyone saying wrestling in Minnesota is in trouble, that could be true at the local level. At the state level, participation numbers are excellent."
The current weight classes are 103, 112, 119, 125, 130, 135, 140, 145, 152, 160, 171, 189, 215 and 285 pounds.
Under the proposal, they would be 108, 117, 125, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 185, 210 and 285.
Since the 2000-01 season, the number of cooperative teams has risen from 56 to 69 while the overall number of teams has fallen from 209 to 192.
The MSHSL has conducted one preliminary survey of schools, which showed 118 in favor of reducing the number of weight classes and 35 opposed.