Lack of true state duals tourney is a shameWrestling is the most individual team sport there ever was and ever will be. When a kid steps on the mat during a team dual, he knows his match can easily sway the entire outcome of the team score by avoiding a pin or working for the major instead of a decision. So why is the state wrestling team title won by the most successful individuals at the state tournament? Is that really giving the best team the title when every member of the team isn’t on the mat?
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
Wrestling is the most individual team sport there ever was and ever will be.
When a kid steps on the mat during a team dual, he knows his match can easily sway the entire outcome of the team score by avoiding a pin or working for the major instead of a decision.
So why is the state wrestling team title won by the most successful individuals at the state tournament? Is that really giving the best team the title when every member of the team isn’t on the mat?
Both North Dakota and Minnesota have a state dual tournament format — state sanctioned — and South Dakota should follow in their footsteps.
In 2001-2004, South Dakota did just that.
For four years, the best team in the state was determined by putting all 14 wrestlers on the mat and competing head-to-head against another team’s 14 best.
The Winner wrestling team won the state tournament in 2003 under current head coach Bill Kaiser and took runner up in 2004.
Kaiser said the South Dakota High School Activities Association dropped the dual format due to — yep, you guessed it, finances.
“Unfortunately, everything comes down to money and it was costing more to put on than it was worth,” Kaiser said. “It was a great atmosphere and we loved it. I just don’t think it will ever come back.”
What a shame. The activities association had it right for four years, and then scrapped it. Well, almost right. A few changes to the previous format could make for an unbelievably competitive tournament and possibly make the SDHSAA some money, too.
The Class A and B duals were on Jan. 31, and although some coaches like Bon Homme’s Mark Stoebner recognize those as the state duals, numerous competitive teams were not in attendance.
In fact, four of the top-10 ranked teams at that time were not at the Class B duals, and five of the top 10 ‘A’ teams, including No. 1 Sturgis, were not in attendance.
Scotland/Menno head wrestling coach Joe Walloch, who wrestled for Scotland and was the No. 1-ranked 275 pounder in 2004, said the four-year format was nice, but was set up incorrectly.
First, the top teams which attended were selected by rankings, which were set based on how many individuals each team had ranked.
Second, the tournament was the day before the state individual tournament, and many teams rested their top wrestlers who were competing individually, so a true champion wasn’t usually crowned.
And finally, during the individual tournament, team points were kept, so there was a dual team champion and a team through individual champions.
Walloch never got to wrestle in the dual tournament, but said he went to the event each year he could and would enjoy it if the activities association returned to the old format that was in place for four years.
Here’s my best proposal to bring back the true team championship format to South Dakota wrestling.
After every team from districts sees one another, take the top two teams in each district for Class B — dual record-wise — and top four teams in each region for Class A — as voted on by the head coaches — and put together one huge state dual tournament the weekend after the state individual tournament where both classes compete separately.
Now one major concern may be making the season a week longer. That isn’t the case since there already is the state dual tournament in both Class A and B — non-SDHSAA sanctioned — that would be cut out and other tournaments would be moved back a weekend.
“Unfortunately, once the activities association does something to take it away, it’s going to be hard to get it back,” said Rapid City Stevens head coach Brian Moser, who guided his team to the Class A state dual title this season. “I think the dual-tournament atmosphere needs to get back in South Dakota.”
Yes, what the activities association does sometimes is unfortunate, but what it usually gets down to is money.
And two dual tournaments in the same place on the same day — say in Vermillion at the DakotaDome and Rapid City at the Rushmore Plaze Civic Center every other year — would draw in a lot of money.
Have at my idea, wrestling fans. I want to hear why this wouldn’t work.
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