One thing is certain among the majority of wrestling coaches in Massachusetts: the postseason tournament format must not be altered.
At Wednesday’s MIAA wrestling committee meeting, members heard three different proposals to submit to the tournament management committee along with a fourth plan to maintain the status quo.
The first proposal, crafted by Braintree wrestling coach Marty Dundon and his Bridgewater-Raynham counterpart Sean Petrosino, called for an elimination of sectional tournaments, going straight to the United States with the expansion of divisions from three to five and 32 qualify for the All States. Their reasoning was that more teams can compete for a state title and you’d have better competition among schools of similar size.
Longtime Div. 3 State Tournament Director Scott Tremlett has a similar plan, with the difference being four divisions, with the top eight seeds getting a bye. The advantages, according to Tremlett, were that there would be fewer matches and would ease the process of organizing a state tournament. A third proposal, coming from St. John’s (Shrewsbury) assistant Ryan Buff, pushed to consolidate things, limiting sections to eight (out of 12) and having only two divisional state tournaments.
Burlington coach Paul Shvartsman, the coaches representative on the committee, said he surveyed wrestling coaches statewide and said 76% of coaches who responded (96) preferred not to make no changes. Since there were not enough voting members on the call to have a quorum, the survey would be sent to all members giving them the opportunity to select one of four proposals to send to the tournament management committee for a more in-depth examination.
The majority of the meeting focused on the three state tournaments being held concurrently at Game On in Fitchburg. While many praised the larger crowds and noisy atmosphere surrounding games, others expressed concerns about things like overcrowding at weigh-ins, parking, concessions and sufficient washroom facilities.
“We weren’t even sure we were going to have a state tournament in January because of the increase in the Omicron virus,” said Wakefield athletic director and MIAA wrestling committee chairman Brendan Kent, who has praised Phil Napolitano, MIAA fight committee liaison, for his tireless work. efforts to obtain installation on short notice. “A lot of people have really stepped up to make this happen. You had (Salem athletic director) Scott Connolly, who’s not even a tournament director anymore, driving mats (at venues) and helping with weigh-ins.
The only vote that took place was to move the deadline from Thursday to Wednesday before the sectionals. After hearing the headaches associated with finding specific records at the last minute, the committee voted 7-2 in favor of an additional 24 hours to make things less stressful.