Notes from 1998 PIAA states

District IX

There are 208 wrestlers (13x16) representing 113 schools. After the preliminary round,104 wrestlers had been eliminated from the championship bracket and 41 schools had been called to the announcer's table to pick up their reimbursement check... While everybody is technically still "alive" in the tournament at that point, the rule is that a school's reimbursement for rooms/ food stops accumulating after your last wrestler is eliminated from the Championship bracket. Thus the constant call for coaches to report to the head table. It is the annual "march of depression" for countless coaches, including this one.

Saw some strange calls this morning. Luke Fragale of Cameron County was called for "fleeing the mat" early in the first period. That's a call I continue to be amazed by. NOBODY uses it during the regular season, despite some of the most outrageous provocation, yet every year somebody gets called for it in the post-season. Usually only once (not the kid - I mean PERIOD). And you never see it called again. If you've ever seen Luke Fragale - well, he strikes me as a wrestler who probably wouldn't flee a charging freight train. Go figure. Late in the third, he bearhugged his opponent to the mat (and to his back) and the kid rolled out of it before giving up back points. Five seconds later, Fragale got called for stalling on top. I was baffled.

Stalling continues to be a regular and frustrating source of puzzlement to one and all. My personal opinion is that everybody should call it about twice as often as they actually do - and they should start calling it hard and fast from the beginning of the season on. Then it wouldn't be such a shock when we get down here and people start calling it - and it's STILL not called as much as it should be. And if we're going to have a "fleeing the mat" rule, then call it, for crying out loud - often and consistently. They do it in freestyle - it can't be that hard. When was the last time you heard of a double disqaulification (for stalling) in high school? They actually call that in international wrestling - and if it's in a medal match, neither man medals.

By the way, if it matters, I had two kids down here - and neither one of them was called for stalling - or fleeing the mat - nor did we lose "because" their opponents did. This is not a personal beef, just a long-standing observation.

Another complaint, and this has to go to the rules committee, has to do with that "potentially dangerous" situation that occurs when the top man has legs in and bottom man stands. There needs to be a clear-cut interpretation that if bottom man stands and top man leaps on him and wraps his legs around him just to draw that call, then it's an automatic stall - or a technical violation - or even unsportsmanlike conduct (especially in second overtime). The move has no possible purpose other than to stop the match - thus it should be de facto stalling. We made the figure-four on the waist a technical violation for the sole reason that it's a stalling ride. This is different?

Now that I have time to climb off my high horse, the first round was definitely wild. 14 Regional champs were defeated in the first round. 8 overtime bouts were wrestled - four in the heavyweight class! 15 falls were recorded, most in the top three weights. Only six technical falls were recorded. Four of the winners of those tech falls meet each other in the quarters - what are the odds of that? Keith Blose (15-0) meets Randy Mort (17-2) and Nevada Walker (19-3) meets Scott Belcastro (17-1). Think those guys were watching each other? Shame they have to meet in the quarters.

The quarters promise to be even better: 112 - Musselman vs Popovitch; 119, Sargent vs Plocus; 135, Wright vs Bebias; 140, Stork vs Gilligan; 145!, Thomas vs Webster AND Shingara vs Sindlinger; 152, Walker vs Belcastro (both 100+ wrestlers); 189, Eure vs Sinkovitch; and 275, Fluck vs Svirbly. Those aren't picks for the finals - but they are going to be DANDY matches.

Reynolds leads after the first round with 14 pts, with Northern Lehigh in second with 12.5. After the first round of consolations, that didn't change, but Wyalusing picked up enough points after consys to move into third with 11.5 points, despite what the official program update said (the program said 8.5 - count 'em yourself, it's not complicated).


The level of wrestling was everything it promised to be. There were only 7 falls out of 52 bouts - and another 22 Regional champs were defeated, meaning only 29 Regional champs continue into the semi-finals.

Back on the soapbox. I keep hearing a lot of whining about how we have to make the sport more exciting - cut down on the stalling and abuse of injury time, etc. Let's get to the heart of the problem - the out-of-bounds line and how we deal with it. Once again, we have to look to freestyle to realize that there is a solution and it is workable. Matches slow down and drag not because kids take time out or stall, but because they go out of bounds every ten seconds and it takes forever to get a restart going. They have to tie their shoelaces and adjust thir knee pads, etc. Now THERE is some serious stalling - and everybody does it.

Solution? If you go out of bounds under attack, there has to be some kind of consequence - a point, a stall call, a warning - choice of position? Refs are always talking to wresters about keeping it in the middle - let's let them DO something about it. And if you're skilled enough and powerful enough to just push your opponent out of bounds, why shouldn't you be rewarded for making that effort?

In the neutral position, each wrestler should be responsible to keep the action in bounds. If you back out or dive out - bam, warning. If you're on your back and scoot over the line to avoid the fall, bam - tack an extra point on. Watch the gold medal match between Kurt Angle and Abbas Jaddidi in last summer's Olympics - Angle not only had to defend against Jaddidi's double-leg attack, he had to redirect the action and keep it in bounds. The rule is possible and enforceable. If we're not willing to adopt a serious change, maybe we should stop whining, eh?

There is still the possibility of both wrestlers being carried out of bounds by the action during a strong flurry of action, but that is a judgement call on the part of the ref. Give the refs the power to keep the match moving, without the silly "fleeing the mat" rule that we now have - and don't use.

Currently, wrestlers look at that out-of-bounds area as a safe zone - someplace to head for when they're in trouble. I'd like to see that change - out-of-bounds ought to be something to be avoided at all costs - and we can do that by making it sufficiently costly to leave the mat area.

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