BOONE - Last week, the Board of Control of the Iowa High School Athletic Association adopted changes for the Traditional State Wrestling Tournament and the State Dual Team Tournament.
The changes place the tournaments back-to-back in Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, and comes with the support of the Wrestling Coaches Advisory Committee, discussions with the IHSAA Representative Council, Board of Control and administrative groups, all supporting a three-day traditional tournament, which will be contested in eight sessions.
The change is effective in 2012 with the Dual Team State Meet on February 15 and the Traditional State Tournament, Feb. 16-18.
The Board of Control of the Athletic Association wants to thank the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids where the State Dual Team Wrestling Tournament was since 1994. They were excellent hosts for 17 years and their hospitality was second-to-none.
While the Cellular Center is not available for the 2012 dual team tournament due to renovations, that is not the primary reason for the change. Changing the individual state tournament to a 3-day format allows the state duals to be wrestled on eight mats in Wells Fargo Arena.
A three-day tournament was abandoned when Veterans' Auditorium started its initial renovation in 2003 and the number of place winners was expanded from six to eight. Due to those factors, the crowds could no longer be adequately accommodated under the three-day state format. Helping facilitate a return to a three-day state tournament are the fact that the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, and the corresponding consolations, will be wrestled on Friday; session starting and ending times have been adjusted; and wrestling will take place on Saturday morning, which was previously the IWCOA coaches' breakfast and business meeting. Under the new format, wrestlers losing in the quarterfinals will also have the opportunity for more recovery time before their next competition.
Attendance at the traditional State Wrestling Tournament has averaged over 73,000 in the past 12 years and has had 22 straight Saturday night sell-outs. The State Dual Team Tournament, which celebrated its 25th year this season, has averaged nearly 5,200 during the same period.
Time schedules for the traditional state tournament and the state team duals are posted on the IHSAA website. The links to those schedules are:
The new changes also address a concern that teams that qualify for the State Dual Team Tournament will not have wrestlers trying to hold their weight for an 18-day period. By having the qualifying teams in Des Moines on Wednesday, there will be no need for excess travel in returning home to work out wrestlers who did not qualify for the traditional tournament.
Following the Board of Control decision, the IHSAA immediately notified member schools administrators and coaches via a mass email.
Assistant Executive Director Alan Beste, who is the IHSAA administrator at both wrestling tournaments, commented on the changes by saying, "These changes are good for high school wrestling in Iowa. Since going to a four-day state tournament the length of the tournament and related loss of school time have been the major concerns of school administrators."
Beste added, "Wrestlers who did not qualify for the state individual tournament, but who needed to maintain their weight for state dual team has long been a concern of wrestling coaches. These changes address those concerns and allow state duals to be wrestled back to eighth place. Rick Wulkow, Executive Director of the Athletic Association, and the Board of Control, have been advocates for addressing the concerns expressed by administrators and coaches for a number of years and have now found a way to address those concerns."