published Saturday, February 5th, 2011

Class A/AA wrestling at state possible

FRANKLIN, Tenn. — It won't happen until the next reclassification period, but it appears possible — if not probable — that the TSSAA will incorporate a Class A/AA wrestling tournament into its traditional format.

The state currently has only Division I and Division II traditional tournaments. It does have separate Class AAA and A/AA duals brackets, along with a Division II-AA tournament and a II-A invitational.

"I think we pulled off such a big thing getting double-elimination in for this year that we may back off a little bit on what we ask for," said Jeff Price, head of the Tennessee Wrestling Coaches Association and head coach at Science Hill High School in Johnson City. "I'm sure something will happen once the traditional tournament is over."

Asked specifically about a proposal to have an A/AA state, Price said several schools were pursuing such a move.

"We're anticipating a proposal to make the change for the next classification period [beginning in 2013]," the TSSAA's Mark Reeves said.

Such a move would cause serious upheaval among Class AAA regions and could send Chattanooga-area teams Soddy-Daisy, Bradley Central, Ooltewah and Walker Valley into a region with Knoxville teams. It also would leave the Chattanooga area with a strong A/AA region that would include Hixson, Central, Notre Dame, East Ridge, Red Bank, Signal Mountain and others in Hamilton County, plus Sequatchie County, Marion County and Whitwell.

"One year isn't enough to get a true picture," Reeves said, "but we broke down last year by regions, triple-A and A/double-A, and even by weights, and there wasn't a place where we would have had a forfeit."

If the A/AA traditional state does come to fruition, there is debate on how the brackets would be figured. It appears that AAA schools would outnumber the smaller schools by a 2-to-1 margin.

"We'd probably have a 24-man [AAA] bracket and an eight- or 12-man bracket in A/double-A," Reeves said. "When we started looking at it, the regions were viable."

The question for AAA could be whether to have six regions and advance the top four in each weight to the state or to have eight regions and take the top three.

"In A/double-A there probably would be four regions, or super regions," Reeves said. "One proposal we have seen was to have the top three from each and have a 12-man bracket, and another was to take the top two and have an eight-man bracket."

Weight change wanted

The weight-descent program used in Tennessee could be in jeopardy, at least in its present form, if coaches have their way.

Coaches last year pushed for double-elimination in the traditional state tournament and got their way after years of begging and pleading.

"Weight descents and [measuring] the wrestlers' weekly weight loss are a problem, and beyond that there are still a lot of abuses of the descent plan," Price said.

Currently, wrestlers have to have their weight certified in the preseason. They're told then the maximum weight they can drop. That's not so much a problem as the fact that they're given a predetermined descent plan and how much weight they can drop per week. That creates major headaches and extra administrative work that cuts into coaching and personal time.

"I'd like to see [the TSSAA] get off the weekly weight loss and give the kids a minimum weight and the first day they can wrestle there," Price said. "Then give them their two pounds [growth allowance] at Christmas and leave it alone."

After dealing with the weight descent for three years, area coaches have voiced their disdain for the program.

"We're not saying do away with any guidelines. Just simplify them. Believe me, we're looking for an alternative," Soddy-Daisy's Steve Henry said.

about Ward Gossett...

Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...

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