Ready for High School state tournaments? Here are some unique stories

Updated: February 8, 2012

By Willie Saylor

Wrestling is officially sanctioned in 49 out of the 50 states (c’mon Mississippi!) in this country. And, believe it or not, it’s that time of year.


Willie Saylor

As February is upon us, we’re on the verge of ramping up state tournaments across the country. By the end of this weekend, 15 of them will have taken place. But sorting out the discrepancies between them all is no small task. State associations across the country all have their own method to their madness. We get state tournaments at different times, in different formats with different classifications.

Of course all states have their own number of classes; some are organized by enrollment; some by a public-private/parochial designation; some by both.

Among states with lengthy wrestling traditions, only California, New Jersey and Indiana have a single-class system: one bracket, one champ. Pennsylvania is the most prominent with just two. Everyone else has three or more.

Here’s a crash course for the championship season, and particular format idiosyncrasies, as we gear up for the stretch run.



Some states (Minnesota, North Dakota) allow seventh and eighth graders. Florida even allows some sixth graders, such as Fox Baldwin, who as just a freshman, is going for his fourth state title already.


Weight-Change Debacle

Bravo to the powers-that-be in the Montana and Michigan state athletic associations for bucking the trend and going against the infinite wisdom of the masses who adopted the new, atrocious weight classes.

Idaho and New York have adopted the new NFHS weights, but kept the lightest non-federation weight. Idaho stayed with 96 pounds, while New York bumped it up to 99.

Hawaii? Well, they dance to the beat of their own piniu (that’s drum, to us mainlanders).  Their weight classes are a little different. After starting with 110 and 116, their weights are like the old federation classes, plus two pounds.



Since 1988, Montana has held state championships in three school classes, culminating with an All-Class tournament. Several states in the Northeast hold an All-Class event and this year, Florida has adopted that practice for the first time.


Duals Done in Hoosierland?

The state duals in Ohio have been a sort of ‘unofficial’ championsip, maintained by the Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches’ Association featuring eight teams per division. Next year, their state duals will be taken over by the state athletic association and the field expanded.

But the exact opposite is happening in Indiana. Earlier this year, it was announced that the IHSAA would not sponsor the one-class state dual tournament going forward. The state duals have been held for 17 years and it would have been a shame to lose them.

As a result, the Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches’ Association has stepped in to perpetuate it … although with a twist. The tournament will categorize into three sizes. Thankfully, the IHSAA will allow any team participating at the event a ‘weigh-in’ waiver, as to not count against their quota of competition points.


Other Oddities

• I love that New Jersey has just one state tournament for the individuals. But their state dual series goes the opposite way. Totally.

Not only is the Garden State an oddity in that it has a different number of classifications for the team championships as it does for individuals, Jersey, ostensibly, has an entirely different philosophy.

They have about 150 state dual champions. OK, not 150. Six.

The numerous classifications reduces the tournaments to mere footnotes, if not entirely irrelevant. And New Jersey has some of the most passionate wrestling fans. Give them a treat. Put it all on the line the way the individuals do, and go with one tournament pool.

• Minnesota, Iowa, and North Dakota wrestle for both dual and individual supremacy in the same building, on the same weekend. While it may save on travel and lodging, it often sets up an interesting situation. Sometimes you see two kids wrestle in a dual, with one guy winning, and then wrestle in the state final, where the other guy wins.

• Alaska has one of the oddest state tournament structures. The three smallest (1A through 3A) have the state tournament in December. The big schools (4A), wrestle for a title in February.

• The New England tournament has a cool concept: the top placers from the surrounding states get together for a big ol’ multi-state regional championship.

• At the National Preps, there’s about a dozen states, on average, represented annually at the National Prep tournament held in Lehigh’s Stabler Arena. Each team goes through a qualifying process through a “Prep State” tournament. Last year, for the first time, Texas allowed only seniors to participate in the national event.

• In Pennsylvania, the athletic association in this state often boggles my mind. But this one takes the cake.  The PIAA (and its District Representatives) voted to do away with single-mat finals for their individual tournaments. Instead, they’ll wrestle the finals alongside the matches being contested for third through eighth place.

What’s the reason?

They want to get out of the building – wait for it – an hour earlier. That’s the best solution they could come up with?

• Illinois teams qualify for the dual state tournament according to how they fare at their Sectional, an individual tournament. Huh? Yeah. Exactly. Also, along with Indiana and Wisconsin, Illinois is one of the rare states in which the dual title is competed for after the individual state tournament.


State Tournament Dates:

Alaska (1A, 2A, & 3A): December 9th-10th – 3 of 4 Divisions

Georgia (Duals): January 13th-14th – 5 Divisions

Alaska (4A only): February 3rd-4th – 1 of 4 Divisions

Massachusetts: February 3rd-4th  – 3 Divisions

Tennessee (Duals): February 3rd-4th – 2 Divisions

West Virginia (Duals): February 8th – 3 Divisions

Arizona: February 9th-11th – 4 Divisions

Pennsylvania (Duals): February 9th-11th – 2 Classes

Arkansas: February 10th-11th  – 2 Divisions

Montana: February 10th-11th  – 3 Divisions

Nevada: February 10th-11th – 3 Divisions

Oklahoma (Duals): February 11th – 4 Divisions

Maryland (Duals): February 11th  – 2 Classes

North Carolina (Duals): February 11th– 4 Divisions

Louisiana: February 11th-12th – 3 Divisions

New Jersey (Duals): February 12th – 20 Groups

Iowa (Duals and Ind.): February 15th-18th – 3 Divisions

Utah: February 15th-18th– 5 Divisions

Alabama: February 16th-18th – 3 Divisions

Colorado: February 16th-18th – 4 Divisions

Georgia: February 16th-18th – 5 Divisions

Illinois: February 16th-18th – 3 Divisions

Missouri: February 16th-18th – 4 Divisions

Nebraska: February 16th-18th – 4 Divisions

North Dakota (Duals and Ind.): February 16th-18th – 2 Classes

Connecticut: February 17th-18th – 4 Divisions

Florida: February 17th-18th – 3 Divisions

Indiana: February 17th-18th – 1 Class

Kentucky: February 17th-18th – 1 Class

New Mexico: February 17th-18th – 3 Divisions

Tennessee: February 17th-18th – 2 Divisions

Washington: February 17th-18th – 5 Divisions

Virginia: February 17th-18th – 3 Divisions

Maine: February 18th – 3 Divisions

New Hampshire: February 18th – 3 Divisions

Kansas: February 23rd-24th – 4 Divisions

North Carolina: February 23rd-25th – 4 Divisions

West Virginia: February 23rd-25th – 3 Divisions

Wisconsin: February 23rd-25th – 3 Divisions

Idaho: February 24th-25th – 4 Divisions

Michigan (Duals): February 24th-25th – 3 Divisions

New York: February 24th-25th – 2 Classes

Oklahoma: February 24th-25th – 4 Divisions

Oregon: February 24th-25th – 5 Divisions

Rhode Island:February 24th-25th – 1 Class

South Dakota: February 24th-25th – 2 Classes

Texas: February 24th-25th – 1 Class

Vermont: February 24th-25th – 1 Class

Wyoming: February 24th-25th – 3 Divisions

South Carolina: February 25th-26th – 4 Divisions

Illinois (Duals): February 25th – 3 Divisions

Indiana (Duals): February 25th – 1 Class

New England States: March 2nd – 1 Class

Michigan: March 1st-3rd – 4 Divisions

Minnesota (Duals and Ind.): March 1st-3rd – 3 Divisions

Ohio: March 1st-3rd – 3 Divisions

California: March 2nd-3rd – 1 Class

Hawaii: March 2nd-3rd – 3 Divisions

Maryland: March 2nd-3rd – 2 Classes

Wisconsin: March 2nd-3rd – 3 Divisions

New Jersey: March 2nd-4th – 1 Class

Pennsylvania: March 8th-10th – 2 Classes