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It Is Not Always Greener on the Other Side


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I have always only attended the IHSAA State Tourney, whether it was to watch as a youngster or wrestle in it. This didn't really give me much perspective on the class system and all the ins and outs of how it is ran at the state tournament level in other states. I recently moved to Colorado about a year and a half ago and began coaching at a 5A school in the Denver Metro Area, where I not only had the chance to experience it first hand, but also had the chance to speak to others on their thoughts on how Indiana runs it. I definitely got a lot of 'wow! no wrestle backs'...'if you lose first/second round at semi state or 1st round at state, you are done? what if you wrestle the champion first?'...but the overall thing they all stated was 'I really wish it was just one class like IN, CA, NJ, etc.'

I didn't want to judge it based on just their opinion, so I had to wait until the post season rolled around for the State Tournament, and fortunately I had a State Qualifier, so I can have added input. After going through it, I can express my thoughts. Colorado has 4 classes (2A-5A). I know a lot will say we wouldn't do 4 classes and would do 2 or 3. The concerns I have still pertain to what I saw, but who knows maybe it would be way better with 2 or 3 vs 4. 

My issues with the class system starts with the amount of division that causes between the state. They had 10 mats out but ran 2a/3a together and 4a/5a together making it two entirely different tournaments on the thursday, friday, sessions. They would make you leave multiple times within the tournament if your session wasn't going. Even though we ran our 5A session with 4A, there was no association at all. 4A  was on mats 1-5 and 5A was on mats 6-10. and I guarantee if you were associated with 5A, you will have no chance to see the 4a matches across the event center with 10 mats going. Let alone the 2a/3a you werent allowed to stay for.

This boils down to the recognition factor for these young men pouring their hearts into this Sport that will in turn grow the sport. There were 4 individuals going for their 4th state title. 3 achieved it. one was 2a, one was 3a, and one was 5a. Im sure you can assume the only one I was able to watch the whole time I was their. I wish I had the chance to watch Andrew Alirez ranked #1 in the nation at 152) in route to becoming a 4 timer, but he was in 3A. If you have affiliation with a certain class, you wont be able to watch others. There is too much going on. I did get to watch Cohlton Shultz capture his 4 timer status though, and keep his #1 in the country and #1 pound for pound status in tact. They keep everything separated and I dont see how that would be a good fit for the state of Indiana. I personally like seeing all the schools in the same tourney on the Individual side. 

A side note from talking to all of the individuals is the ones in the higher classes just talk down about the smaller classes and say 'everyone knows 5A is the only one that matters' and I know we say Indiana wouldn't say that, but I think over time it would trickle down and everyone would view the bigger class as more meaningful. Most of the people that were pure fans would only come for 5a and would not care one bit about the other classes. Even if I didn't have a wrestler in the 5A competition and went as a fan, it would be way to hard to watch multiple. 

My conclusion and my stance after experiencing it first hand (Granted Colorado may be an anomaly) is for the individual tournament for Indiana to stay 1 class, but we need to have wrestle backs at least at semi state and definitely state. I think the class system is perfect for team state, but the amount of people that weighed in that they wish their was a true champion rather than crowning 56 state champions was unbelievable. I think what draws me into keeping it one class is the amount of division between classes there is. I get why they call it 'States' now cause its as if there is multiple different state tournaments going on at the same time and you can't associate with multiple. So even if we class the individual tournament and a small school gets more state champions, they will be a state champ, but most will only be watching the bigger classes anyways. I couldn't tell you one thing about any 2a school in the state of Colorado. Name of the school, names of any wrestlers, how many they qualified/placed, etc. Because it is all separate. And I don't want that to happen to Indiana. I like being familiar with every school. I know chances of making it are harder, but Indiana is a hard state to qualify in. Just my 2 cents. It's mostly theoretical and we would never know until applied. One thing's for sure. I am sure missing that Indiana atmosphere when it comes to the post season. 

 

 

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Do we want that though for wrestling in IN or at the High School level in general to broaden it up? Again the team aspect, I'm all for. But in individual, that's a different story for me. I would have wanted to watch and see Silas Allred's senior campaign, but with his school being smaller I wouldn't have been able to follow it or probably even know his name if this was implemented 20 years ago. Like the 2a/3a/4a schools I mentioned. (I'm sure I would have, dude is a monster. but just for instance) 

 

ps - this site so beneficial for the sport of wrestling. CO has no forum (if they do it is very outdated and never used). They also have some random guy that does rankings that you have to send an email to him and pay like $20/week or month or something just to have a copy emailed to you or sent to you in the mail. So major props for what you do here. Very much appreciated!

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It's the nature of the beast, in college DIII champs are looked upon, in Indiana there is common knowledge that 1A isn't as good as 2A and 2A isn't as good as 3A at our state duals. The bigger the school the more advantages they have to building better individuals and teams.

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I agree, but the DIII ncaa championships arent held on the same date or in the same event center going on at the exact same time as the DII, DI, or NAIA finals. It doesn't make you choose between the 4. If you so will, you can go to every one of them or follow all of them at least. I get that they don't get as much following in general, but I don't see it as relevant in the High School setting when the tourney is all at the same time. But bigger schools do have the advantages as you mentioned, so I see what you are saying. even though they may not get recognized, we still want them to have more state qualifiers, which would grow the sport in state. 

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And I did mention that originally that it could just be the way Colorado runs it. which I didn't particularly like. If they are ran concurrently how would you be able to see all divisions? or at least focus on each class at the same weight class (for instance 126 at class 1A, 2A, and 3A)? My issue is the disconnect between each class that I experienced from CO. I feel it is inevitable there will be a disconnect over a span of 10 years. But I could be way wrong, just my opinion. I feel classed team tourney, non-classed individual tourney, add wrestle backs, make it 2-3 weekends instead of 4 (Regionals, semi state, and state for example) would be the best route at this time. But I've been wrong before. I know CA proves itself as a wrestling state and are 1 class. I am not up to date on how they run it, but I see adopting their route is the first big step. 

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Wrestling and coaching in Indiana, I always appreciated the Indiana single-class system.  I was lucky enough to also coach state finalists in both Georgia and Ohio who both use multi-class systems with same date/venue state finals.  In my opinion, that format really took away some impact on being a state finalist and placewinner.  I much prefer the single-class format.  

I wrestled at a DII college and, at that time, DII champions were often invited to the DI championships and some did very well.  There were some DI National Champions from DII schools.  I remember one heavyweight  from Pittsburgh-Johnstown and some others from Cal State Bakersfield.    

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Everyone is already doing what you are saying isn't happening.  3A schools look down on 2A and 1A schools.  If you don't believe that, you are strongly misled.  It is no different than football.  The new 6A class just became the ELITE class to be in.  Ask Cathedral why they didn't want to stay when it was their option.  If they are honest, I bet they say that it would be harder to get kids to buy in to the idea of going to Cathedral if they are not winning state titles at that level.  Why do athletes move to new locations to wrestle, play football, basketball, etc.?  They want to be where they might be seen by a higher level coach or they want to win a title.  It is really simple.  Give the smaller schools a reason to retain their one or two guys that move because they cannot win a title in their area.  College athletics have trickled down to the high schools now.  Local clubs and AAU teams have become what high schools were.  If you don't believe this, you must have blinders on.  JMHO

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