I get that no one, particularly parents, want to take a whole day, drive for hours only to find that a young wrestler has only 1, 2 or, even worse, 0 other entries in his weight. Even in well populated tournaments, this is an issue, particularly for the highest and lowest weight classes. And it’s even more of a problem for youth wrestlers.
It’s a problem that has plagued the development of our sport for decades.
So, what happens is that parents and coaches try to guess the odds of getting a few matches and many choose not to chance it. This, of course, only adds to the problem for those who actually make the commitment.
One of the things we are trying to address for our youngest wrestlers with the “Tour of Florida” is this issue.
Most wrestling events break the youth divisions into 3-5 different 2-year age divisions. This contributes to the lack of wrestlers in each weight. For the Tour of Florida events, we are having a single Youth division for all wrestlers below the Schoolboy age with no pre-defined ages and weights. We will block wrestlers into weight classes with no more than a 10% difference in weight and no more than a 24-month difference in age. Since the normal pre-defined age divisions are in two-year increments, there is no reason why and older bantam, for instance, shouldn’t be able to compete with a younger intermediate. Last year they were in the same age division anyway and they will be again next year. If a wrestler who happens to be the only one in the age/weight division chooses to go up in age and/or weight, he/she will get the awards and points for having competed in the correct age/weight but can still get a few matches. (We will be very careful not to allow mis-matches that endanger the wrestler.)
We will do the same thing for the Schoolboy/girl, Cadet and Junior Divisions. If someone is a “lone wolf” and chooses to wrestle in a different age division or weight class, he/she will get the award and points from his/her actual age/weight.
By doing this, we hope to address the problem. Of course, it could always happen that there are few or no other wrestlers with whom a wrestler can be matched. We can’t control who cancels at the last minute, gets hurt, has a family emergency or whatever. But we do hope these procedures will do two things:
1. Mitigate the problem for those who take the challenge of competing
2. Eliminate the problem because once people catch on this, enough competitors will show making the whole thing unnecessary.
So I encourage you to join us in eliminating this issue once and for all. Take the leap of faith and make the commitment to make yourself better and get on the mat!
I hope to see ALL of you at the Tour events and other Team Florida tournaments throughout the year.
Like it said on a sign in the wrestling room when I was in High School (a million years ago): "A turtle never makes any progress until he sticks his neck out."