Assistant Sports Editor

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling.

An interesting post appeared on Facebook the other day from Easton’s Steve Powell.

The post was a statistical breakdown of the number of forfeits for each classification and overall in Pennsylvania high school wrestling.

The statistical accumulation seems to only support the idea of cutting the number of weight classes from 14 to 12 by the PIAA. Right now, National Federation of High Schools Association, supports 14 weight classes.

The post shows the forfeits for all Pennsylvania teams and each weight class, then breaks it down into Class AA and Class AAA. The accumulation of data was taken over the last three seasons in Pennsylvania.

The results seem to support the move by the PIAA.

Every weight class showed an increase in forfeits and presented a sobering look at the sport.

The biggest number of forfeits, as you might have guessed, came in the lightest weight of 106 pounds.

For all Pennsylvania teams, the 106-pound weight class had 2,220 forfeits, up from 1,848 in the 2016-17 season. This was the only weight class that had numbers above 2,000 in the chart. That’s an increase of more than 20 percent.

The weight classes that seem less affected by the forfeits came where you might have guessed: in the middle weights.

Even the 195-pound weight class, which was established a few years back to lure such athletes as football players, did not fare well. The number of forfeits in those weights were near 30 percent higher from the 2016-17 season.

The PIAA is seeking to have the weight classes in the state cut to 12 by the 2020-21 season. This statistical breakdown only makes their case stronger.

Burgettstown coach Joey Vigliotti made some good points about the move to 12 weight classes in a response on social media. He wondered whether teams from outside Pennsylvania will have a desire to compete in open tournaments if the weight classes are different from the ones those schools are using.

He also feels the move to 12 classes could affect the rankings of wrestlers if they are in different weight classes.

Another poster suggested Pennsylvania adopt the practice of the state of New York, where junior high wrestlers are permitted to wrestle on the varsity if their talent allows.

But many coaches I’ve discussed this with are hesitant to support such a measure because of the difference in age and development.

One thing is for sure, the sport needs something to revitalize it across, not only the state, but the country.

The move to 12 weight classes might be it.

  • A list of teams competing in this year‘s Powerade Wrestling Tournament was released this week. Tournament director Frank Vulcano Jr., added six out of state teams to the tournament, which runs December 27-28 at Canon-McMillan High School.

One of the more interesting teams will be Arlington Martin from Texas. Schools from that state are rarely found in this event. Two local teams will not be competing this year: Bell Vernon, which struggled with numbers last year, and McGuffey, which recently hired Jared Roberts as head coach.

The local teams competing include Canon-McMillan, Trinity and Waynesburg.

More information can be found on the web add poweradewrestling.com.

Assistant sports editor Joe Tuscano can be reached at jtuscano@observer-reporter.com.

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