By Joe Tuscano/Staff writer/

Joe Tuscano/Observer-Reporter

High school wrestling coaches in Pennsylvania are a step closer to coaching one less weight class next season.

The PIAA moved a step closer to reducing the number of weight classes in wrestling from 14 to 13, and unanimously approved a two-game suspension for various violations in all sports during its Board of Directors meeting Monday.

A second reading of the weight-class reduction proposal was unanimously approved by the PIAA, and it will need to pass a third reading in July to become the standard in Pennsylvania next wrestling season. The last change to the weight classes was in 2012.

The proposal passed 30-0 at its May meeting, but support for keeping 14 weight classes has gained some momentum since then. Richard Sandow, a Pittsburgh-based attorney, gave a presentation to the Board of Directors in support of 14 weight classes, and others spoke in support of keeping the status quo.

Those who support the 13-weight proposal are quick to point out that it should trim the numbers of forfeits in dual meets. Forfeits have been a major problem for in wrestling for years, especially in Class AA.

“There is a problem when it takes longer to drive to a local dual meet than the time it takes to wrestle the match,” said McGuffey coach Jared Roberts. “Some matches take only 15 to 20 minutes to wrestle. From the team aspect, I can see where (13 weight classes) could help. From an individual standpoint, I can see where more coaches are in favor of 14 weight classes.”

A report from the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, which was asked by the Board of Directors to study the 13-weight proposal, which includes the elimination of the two-pound growth allowance, gave its support to the changes.

The current weight classes are: 106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 182, 195, 220 and 285 pounds.

The proposed 13 weight classes include 106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 172, 189, 215 and 285.

Burgettstown, like McGuffey, hasn’t experienced many problems filling all 14 weight classes, and Blue Devils head coach Joey Vigliotti is not in favor of the proposed change.

“My whole point is, if it’s not broken, then don’t try to fix it,” he said. “I don’t think there is a problem. What this does is take away opportunities from high school athletes and that’s never a good thing.

“Wrestling has had a struggle. Just a few years ago, they wanted to take it out of the Olympics. ... Taking any weight class away is taking an opportunity away from a kid.”

The two-game suspension will be for any coach or player who is ejected because of using foul or vulgar language, making ethnic or racially insensitive comments or physical contact. An ejection previously required a mandatory one-game suspension, but now carries a second contest at the official’s discretion.

A two-game suspension will be a stiff punishment for sports such as football, which have significantly fewer contests than basketball.

Sports Editor

Since 1986, Chris Dugan has been covering local sports for the Observer-Reporter, and named sports editor in 2006. Before joining the O-R, he was sports editor at the Democrat-Messenger, and a former member of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

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