The NFHS Wrestling Rules Committee and the NFHS Board of Directors believes there are areas of interscholastic wrestling that need to be addressed and given special attention. These areas of concern are often cyclical, some areas need more attention than others, and that is why they might appear in the rules book for consecutive editions. These concerns are identified as “Points of Emphasis.” For the 2021-22 high school wrestling season, attention is being called to: wrestler’s equipment, particularly the coach’s verification that the wrestler is properly equipped and in proper uniform; the inspection of such equipment by the referee; the compliance with NFHS rules; the appearance and wearing of the wrestling uniform; cleanliness of uniforms, pads and mats; hair rule enforcement; sportsmanship enforcement; and proper weigh-in protocol. When a topic is included in the Points of Emphasis, these topics are important enough to reinforce throughout the academic year because they are not being given the proper attention needed.
Boys and Girls Weight Classification Equipment
Discussion about weight classes invariably creates a lot of energy around the number of classifications and the actual weights themselves. The 2011-12 academic season was the last time high school weight classes were modified. Based on your perspective, fortunately or unfortunately the world has changed dramatically since 2011. We have an increased interest in our sport by girls with growing participation numbers and the 30th state association will be sponsoring and hosting a girls wrestling championship next school year. Simply stated, it is time to offer a uniform set of weights for girls in different classifications for states to select one that best fits their needs (and allow for growth in the future).
Boys wrestling continues to decline, although there are some mitigating factors that contribute to the downturn. In part, one of those factors is reflective of our fluctuating student enrollment demographics nationally. Towns and cities have shifted their populations and we are witnessing a phenomenon playing out across the country that schools and their enrolled student bases are changing drastically. Some of our member state associations have struggled filling 14 weight classifications since we changed the weights in 2011. The new rule of providing an option of state associations selecting 12, 13 or 14 weight classifications makes tremendous sense and will allow them the chance to address some of those challenges and allow more students to benefit from wrestling.
Consequently, the suggested weights are data- and science-driven. These recommended weights are based upon data from 215,000 body fat assessments from high school students nationally by the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA). We have established the implementation date as July 1, 2023 to give coaches, schools and students the opportunity and time to prepare for the new weights. Our goal for this rule change is to give states that needed flexibility the chance to make better educated decisions in their state and to allow more students to wrestle.
Head/Neck/Cervical Column (HNC) Timeout
There was a desire to establish a separate injury time-out that involves the head and neck involving the cervical column and/or nervous system and not connect it with the existing 1½ minute injury time-outs. The HNC time-out is the fifth occurrence that a referee would stop a match.
This separate time-out is supported and covered in existing rules that give the referee the authority to observe signs, symptoms and behaviors of a concussion and respond appropriately with or without an appropriate health-care professional present.
Stalling in the Ultimate Tiebreaker
Stalling by nature and by definition is something that typically is not rewarded during regulation time of a match. In fact, it is severely penalized because wrestling is an attacking and rigorous activity. The aggressive wrestler benefits in the number of points he/she accumulates during a match. But the Ultimate Tiebreaker (UT) is a unique one-time situation that has some different nuances. In proper context, we have wrestled an entire regulation match, three overtimes (one 60 second and two 30 second) and remain tied. If no scoring occurs during the UT, the offensive wrestler is rewarded a match point during the UT for maintaining control/riding out (6-7-1c8, 9-1-8, Scoring Symbols (pg. 58)) and will ultimately win the match.