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Should JV wrestlers be allowed into regionals to qualify for states

31 Jan 2017

CHSAA is making great strides this year in helping wrestling grow in Colorado, by looking at high school girl only state tournament. CHSAA has looked at the number of participates at the several sanctioned tournaments this season that have been for girls only for the first time in Colorado history. With this in mind, it should also be a good time to restart the thinking into allowing JV wrestlers into regional tournament for a chance to qualify for states. 

The following is from Ben Vombaur operator / head coach of Bear Cave Wrestling Club.  Can we start a conversation about allowing JV wrestlers the opportunity to qualify for the high school state tournament in Colorado?

Over the last couple years my club has had many wrestlers enter high school and I have begun to see the major flaws of a system which does not allow JV wrestlers the opportunity to qualify for the state tournament. In the previous four states I've lived (Washington, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming), JV wrestlers are allowed to enter the qualifying tournament to have an opportunity to qualify for the state tournament. The mission statement of CHSAA reads, "In pursuit of excellence, the Colorado High School Activities Association strives to create a positive and equitable environment in which all qualified student participants are challenged and inspired to meet their highest potential." By not allowing JV wrestlers the opportunity to qualify for the state tournament CHSAA seems to be limiting opportunities and in part operating their state tournament in contradiction with their mission statement.

In my time in Colorado I've seen wrestlers quit wrestling, transfer schools, not enroll at their hometown school, drop an unhealthy amount of weight and wrestle at too high of a weight so they can qualify for the state tournament. The model to fix this is already available. Allow each team to enter 2 wrestlers per weight class at the Region Tournament and use the highest scoring wrestler for the team score at Regionals and State. Any argument against this system seems to fall short when compared to a process which allows more wrestlers the opportunity to be challenged and meet their highest potential.

The following is an article written several year ago: 

Should high schools allow more than one wrestler per weight?  By Mike Finn , Win Magazine

Anyone who has wrestled knows that a wrestling room is usually a pretty warm place to practice. Sam Federico, the head coach at Pomona High School in Colorado wouldn’t mind if it got a little hotter. The ten-year veteran prep coach, whose team finished second in Colorado’s 5A class last winter, isn’t interested in turning up the thermostat in the wrestling room of his high school, which is located in Arvada, a suburb of Denver, Colo.
Federico just wants the 50 young men on his wrestling team to be even more active as the postseason approaches in Colorado and the rest of the country. “Kids spend 90 percent of their time in the wrestling room and only 10 percent in actual competition,” said Federico. “If you can turn up the heat in the wrestling room with better quality workouts and more competition, as a whole our state can benefit from that.”
Wrestling, unlike almost every other high school sport in the nation, allows the lowest percentage of athletes to compete in postseason. And in the case of Pomona High School, where Federico has 50 kids in the room, only 14 — 28 percent — have the chance to compete past the regular season.
So what Federico is proposing — at least in Colorado — is for the state organizations (CHSAA) to allow more than one wrestler per team at each weight class to compete in the post-season.
“They did this in Oregon where I grew up,” said Federico, who admits it’s hard to keep all his wrestlers interested in competing if they are not part of the 14-man varsity squad. And those who do stick it out are forced to push their bodies to extremes in hopes of making a different weight class if they cannot be No. 1 at their weight.
“When I got to Colorado, I saw after the wrestleoffs that you have a lot of kids quit,” he said. “You have too many kids cutting weight or giving up a bunch of weight and go up to grab a varsity spot.
“It put kids in a bad position. Most of them failed trying to cut too much weight or giving up too much weight. They either quit or transferred to another school. Each of those solutions are bad for wrestling.”
Federico really wishes more than one wrestler could compete between 120 and 150 pounds, which makes up the majority of his roster. “I would say that 75 percent of our kids are below 150 pounds,” he said.
Federico said there are some coaches within the state who do not agree with his suggestion. “Some feel the rich will only get richer.” Federico has approached the Colorado High School Activities Association about possibly allowing more than one wrestler per weight. CHSAA said they would give it some consideration, but Federico knows he has an uphill battle.
“They don’t like to make changes,” said Federico, who also believes that Colorado could handle a 32-man bracket — rather than the current 16-man at regional tournaments — and that there would be a better financial payoff for the association. “If there are more wrestlers, there will be more spectators and more money.”
But more importantly, the Colorado coach is thinking about his seniors, many of whom quit before their careers are over if they do not make the current varsity line-up.
“Two years ago we had a state qualifier, but the next year we had a freshman come in and beat him out,” Federico said, adding that the older wrestler is no longer wrestling. “We have a returning state qualifier walking the halls in our high school. He could have made it back to state but could not have gotten out of our room. “The freshman ended up finishing third and the other kid could have been a state placer. But now he has a bad taste of wrestling in his mouth.”

With both above coaches looking to bring this to forefront, the guidelines are already there form the other states. Colorado does not have to invent the wheel per say.  Utah, Idaho, Washington all state in their governing bylaws that a team may bring up to two wrestlers per weight class to their regional tournament to qualify for states. Colorado would not have to go that far because it could water down a bracket, but should allow teams to bring quality JV wrestlers to the fold. They could use the couple JV state meets that are already in place and have the champ or the top two wrestlers advance to states. There are situations where two kids are fighting for one spot on the team for varsity and if they were at a different high school they would step into that spot.

This past weekend the Front Range Conference held their league championship and allowed teams to bring three extra wrestlers to enter this tournament. One example that would work to help put JV wrestlers into the mix because at 285 lbs Broomfield not only had the champion at that weight class they also had the 3rd place winner.  Plus adding JV wrestlers can also help fill a 16 man bracket with is rare at this time with having only 12 – 17 teams at a regional site. The other bonus to this besides a full bracket at each weight class is more fans in the stands to watch their team / son wrestle to get a chance to go down town for the dance at the Pepsi Center.  Allowing JV wrestlers to enter regionals would also strengthen a team as more kids would stay till the end of the season and not stop coming to practice after the last JV tournament.

So inconclusion it is time for CHSAA to step forward not just with girls only tournaments and a girls only state but to invest in all wrestlers in Colorado and improving a system that needs to be upgraded to be in the 21st century.