Starting in the 2012-13 season, Ohio will join a growing number of Midwest states by holding a state dual meet wrestling tournament series.
On June 10, the OHSAA board of directors approved the proposal by the Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association to sanction the state dual meet tournament.
"We're the only Big Ten (Conference) state that doesn't already have a state dual tournament for wrestling, so it's exciting to see that it's coming," Hilliard Bradley coach and OHSWCA president John Riggs said. "This is an opportunity to bring a number of new fans into the sport. We've talked to many officials from other states and they said having a state dual tournament has improved their fan base. For fans, this will be on par with going to a football or basketball game, where you get to go support an entire team."
The majority of the event's details still need to be worked out, such as when and where the various stages of the tournament will be held.
"What we have to figure out is how the districts will be set up and how many qualifiers we'll have," OHSAA assistant commissioner Henry Zaborniak said. "I assume there will be three divisions, but I don't know that for sure. We need to determine when our championship weekend will be and where we'll hold it. We're putting together a group of OHSWCA district officers, one or two OHSAA board members and probably one or two athletics directors to put all of that together, so we can get something to our board of directors by the first of the year, 2011."
Zaborniak said the state dual meet tournament won't affect the way the individual state tournament is run, but Riggs said the OHSAA will begin recognizing the winner of the state dual tournament as the state team champion and the OHSWCA will present a team championship trophy to the squad that scores the most points in the individual state tournament.
Olentangy coach Matt Hammons said he and many other people involved in the sport are thrilled about the addition of the state dual meet tournament.
"I'm all for it, and so are all of my kids and their parents and several of the other coaches in central Ohio," Hammons said. "In football, you can't win a state championship with three Division I prospects and a bunch of 90-pound wimps, but you can win the state wrestling tournament with three qualifiers, like West Liberty Salem did in 1992.
"The state dual tournament is a better way to determine who the better teams truly are. To finish high in the state in the future, coaches will need to focus on all of the kids on their team instead of two or three who happen to be blessed with a lot of talent."
But some area coaches are concerned the state dual meet tournament could jeopardize certain wrestlers' chances of doing well at the individual state tournament.
"A lot of us know we're not going to be able to win the state duals, but we have good kids who we're expecting to do well as individuals, and as a coach you may not want to put those kids at risk for an injury by having them make weight and wrestle twice in one week," Hilliard Davidson coach Dominic DiSabato said. "A couple coaches are saying that they will put their j.v. teams out there for the duals if there's any risk that it will hurt their chances of doing well in the (individual) tournament. Ohio high school wrestling is top three in the nation, so why change it?"
Olentangy Liberty coach Mark Marinelli hopes the additional matches don't wear down wrestlers mentally or physically.
"I'm not a big fan of it, because I think it's going to put too much of a toll on the kids in what's already a long season," Marinelli said. "The state duals aren't going to count against how many matches these kids are allowed to wrestle. If they're concerned with how many matches the kids are wrestling in the first place, why aren't they now?
"For the coaches, it's more time we have to spend away from our families, especially if your team goes far in the duals. It might be a good concept, but I don't know if it's what's best for the kids."