High School Update: Colleges should learn from prep Duals dilemma
(Preview tease of article in WIN’s Nov. 8th Printed Edition: Rob Sherrill)
It seems to me I wrote this column just about eight months ago.
I thought it would be the last word. Apparently not.
The age-old question which always seems to be asked about dual-meet championships:
“What do we do with them?” now has jumped up the ranks to the college level and its signature team event, the National Duals. As Ray Brinzer eloquently wrote in Amateur Wrestling News about how the National Wrestling Coaches Association is “wrestling” with the issue, there remains no consensus.
Gather ‘round, children. Listen carefully to this wise old sage as he counsels you against playing with fire … or robbing Peter to pay Paul. Nearly four decades of hard data from real-life laboratories around the nation — high school state tournament series, dual and individual — are now recorded in the history books. It’s time to put some of the lessons those tournaments have taught us to good use.
The dual and individual state tournament series co-exist quite well in many states. Georgia, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Tennessee and New Jersey are five which come to mind immediately. On the other hand, there are some states in which the dual state series has become an unwelcome intrusion on the individual state series.
Illinois and Wisconsin used to define this category, but in one fell swoop last season, Iowa — where many top programs rested their top athletes for the more traditional tournament — marched to the top of this infamous class.
Coaches on both sides of the National Duals debate seem passionate about their opinions and they sound carefully thought out. What must still be examined, however, are the effects, positive and negative, of the events which have transpired at the high school level over the years. Thinking the National Duals is something high school dual state tournaments are not is elitist, presumptive and flat-out wrong.
Having said that, here are three truths which must be considered before college wrestling even considers serving up the National Duals on a platter as the “official” team championship.
1) Wrestling is actually two sports: dual-meet wrestling and tournament wrestling.
Speaking from experience, this is the most difficult concept to sell to administrators. They look at wrestling and see one sport, with one rule book, and they say, “We’ll give you one champion. You can have a dual-meet champion or a tournament champion. But we don’t give two team trophies in any other sport, so we can’t give wrestling special treatment.”
Is football two different sports? Basketball? Baseball? Soccer?
Of course not.
Team-against-team competition is completely different from team-against-all competition. If wrestling were truly one sport, the same team would always win in both settings…which we know, of course, is not true. A team which has three champions and little else will never be competitive in the National Duals, but virtually assured of taking home a team trophy at the NCAA Championships in March.
It’s a great equalizer. Making the National Duals the official team event virtually assures the schools with the most scholarships and the deepest rosters, like Penn State, Minnesota, Iowa and Ohio State, will take turns hoisting the trophies, year in, year out.
(If you’re a current subscriber to WIN Magazine OR a high school coach, the Nov. 8th edition should be to you soon. WIN sends our late October/early November issue as a complimentary trial issue to every high school coach in the U.S. If you don’t have a current subscription to WIN, and wish to read the remainder of this article, subscribe to WIN by Clicking Here.)