Nathan Broek | Sports Editor
DES MOINES-The Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) announced in a press release Tuesday, June 12, that it is incorporating a new seeding system for the state wrestling tournament starting in the 2018-2019 season.
Instead of drawing names from a hat in order to determine tournament brackets, the association will now use a seeding format 30 other states have used via TrackWrestling, which has statistics and live scoring online ranging from high school to college.
The new criteria for seeding includes head-to-head competition, competition against common opponents, being a returning state champion, being a returning second-place or third-place finisher in the state a season ago, being a returning fourth- through eighth-place finisher from a season ago, being a district champion, being a returning state-qualifier from a previous season other than a year ago, and an individual’s winning percentage during the current season. The Iowa High School Athletic Association board of control came to a unanimous decision to adopt this new seeding format Monday, June 11.
“The seeding of wrestling tournaments is something that happens every weekend across the country,” said IHSAA wrestling administrator Lewie Curtis in the press release. “Our state tournament is one of very few that hasn’t used seeding to determine its brackets. With this decision, that’s no longer the case.”
Western Christian wrestling coach Kyle Westra said he likes the seeding format, but noted he liked the old format more.
“The one thing about it is it’s going to be tough to get it all seeded through. But it looks like they did a pretty decent job of making sure certain kids get better seeds,” he said. “But I really don’t know how I feel. Maybe I’m ‘old school,’ but I always liked the hype of looking at the draw. Also, if you really get down to it, it never changed who was going to get first place. At least it shouldn’t anyway. You’ve got to wrestle to place and you’ve got to wrestle to be there.”
The one potential problem Westra pointed to is the wrestlers putting too much weight into the seeding format.
“The thing about not having seeds is a person would always wrestle to the best of their ability no matter who they where up against. Now if someone sees they’re going up against a higher seed they’ll think, ‘Oh no. They’re a higher seed than me.’ Well then it becomes a mental game,” Westra said. “I do think it’ll help wrestlers in this area place well like we have, but we’ll have to see how it goes I guess.”
Westra added that another problem could be how the coaches impact the seeding system.
“I did read up on it though and it’ll be interesting to see how much information they pull from each coach themselves or if a coach is going to fight for a kid to get a certain seed or if they don’t get any suggestions and go straight from Track Wrestling. Again, we’ll see how it goes from here,” the coach said.