LATHAM — High school wrestling teams will compete in two fewer classes over the next two seasons as the New York State Public High School Athletic Association approved several proposals at its annual summer meeting Wednesday.
The NYSPHSAA’s central committee approved 13 weight classes as part of a two-year experiment that begins with the 2020-21 school year. The ruling cuts the 99-pound weight class, a spot some schools had difficulty filling, and also rearranges the weight numbers to come up with 13 classes rather than 15.
“They’re taking two (weight classes) out and personally I think it’s a great thing for our sport of wrestling,” longtime Indian River coach Jamee Call said. “Due to the fact that we have a bunch of small schools trying to field a wrestling team. So with that being said, now they have a better chance when we compete in a dual meet, because now it’s a more even playing field.”
The new weight classifications are 102, 110, 118, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 172, 189, 215 and 285 pounds. The previous configuration was 99, 106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 182, 195, 220 and 285.
“I think there’s pros and cons, there’s a lot of people in the sport of wrestling that don’t like change,” said Call, who is also the Frontier League’s chairman in the sport and serves on the Section 3 wrestling committee. “But personally, I think it’s a great change, especially for smaller schools that are having a hard time fielding teams, getting kids out for the teams to keep the sport of wrestling going.”
The state said the change in classes came about after continued discussion about the increasing number of forfeitures in dual meets. The National Federation of High School Sports has made a similar proposal as has Pennsylvania for its state schools. Some smaller New York state schools have struggled to find wrestlers to fill the 99-pound class, which often times consisted of more inexperienced wrestlers,including seventh and eighth graders at times.
It has also at times created stress on some wrestlers who attempted to lose weight in order to be able to compete in the lower weight classes, particularly at 99 pounds, according to Call.
“Now, on the other side of this, no one will probably be happy with the two weight classes that they take out,” Call said. “But with so many schools and so many wrestling teams, it’s going to be very hard for everybody to settle on the two weight classes that you want to take out. But I think overall it’s a great start, it’s a two-year proposal, but I’m absolutely in favor of it.”
The NYSPHSAA at its annual meeting also approved new baseball pitch count restrictions for the 2021 season. The state said pitch counts will evolve as the season progresses.
The state said that in March, with four days rest, a pitcher could throw 76-85 pitchers. By May, the number will grow to 103-125 pitches. Pitch counts will be lowered based a pitcher’s time between appearances.
The committee also approved a proposal for boys hockey to adopt 17-minute periods with adjusted penalty times beginning with the 2020-21 season.
New York was the last state in the country with 15-minute periods for boys games. The proposal said the extra two minutes per period would enhance participation, creating roughly six more shifts per game.
Penalty times will change from 1.5 minutes for a minor, 4 minutes for a major and 7.5 minutes for a misconduct to 2 minutes for minors, 5 minutes for majors and 10 minutes for misconducts.
The NYSPHSAA at the annual meeting also awarded Section 10 with the “Stay in the Game” trophy for boasting the highest percentage of schools at 75 percent for avoiding a disqualification of a player or coach at any level during the last school year.
Also at the meeting, Section 10’s Paul Harrica stepped down as NYSPHSAA president to make way for Section 4’s Julie Bergman, who is the new president.
The committee approved state volleyball championship sites for both boys and girls from 2021-23. The boys will take place at the Albany Capital Center and the girls at Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls.
Times Sportswriter Chris Fitz Gerald contributed to this report.