Team dual-meet state championships will be added to Maine high school wrestling’s postseason agenda this winter.
The top four teams in the North and South regions of each class will square off in a succession of head-to-head matches involving all 14 weight classes, with quarterfinals and semifinals leading to state championship matches.
Those championships are scheduled for Friday, Feb. 21, at Skowhegan Area High School (Class A) and Penobscot Valley High School in Howland (Class B).
The new format differs from Maine’s traditional wrestling state championships, where individual participants who have qualified through top-four performances at North and South regionals accumulate points toward team totals.
“The [Maine Principals’ Association wrestling] committee thinks it will add another piece of excitement to include the kids who wrestle throughout the regular season and then don’t play a part in the state championship,” MPA assistant executive director Mike Bisson said.
Few teams over the years have qualified wrestlers in all 14 weight classes for state-meet competition, but the dual-meet states will ensure that wrestlers who may not qualify for states still may play an important role in helping their schools compete for this title.
“The committee looks at it as you’ve had 14 weight classes you’ve been filling all year, let’s put those best teams out there and wrestle off and see if we can come up with a state champion that way,” Bisson said.
The dual-meet format could serve to motivate teams that typically aren’t able fill all 14 classes during the regular season to encourage more student-athletes to come out for the sport.
“I think that’s the piece we were looking for, that it’s really important that you get your weight classes filled because you’re not going to be able to compete for a state championship in [duals] without filling them,” Bisson said.
Teams that compete in the state dual-meet championships will be selected by the MPA’s wrestling committee. The seedings will be based on head-to-head results, record against common opponents, best overall records, and returning champions.
“We feel pretty confident we can come up with a top three in each region pretty easily,” Bisson said. “Getting down to that fourth spot’s going to be a struggle, but we’ll be pretty diligent about it. Our meet directors already have started looking at the data and matchups and gone down through the criteria to lay it out for us for our next meeting.”
Regular-season dual meets wrestled no later than Feb. 1 will count toward seedings, with the wrestling committee scheduled to hold its seeding meeting on Feb. 3.
The wrestling postseason begins Feb. 1 with conference championships around the state. North and South regional meets in Classes A and B follow on Feb. 8, with the traditional state meets on Feb. 15 at Sanford (Class A) and Fryeburg Academy (Class B).
The second annual MPA girls wrestling state championships will be held Feb. 19 at Windham High School, followed Feb. 21 by the inaugural state dual-meet championships.
The New England qualifying meet is set for Feb. 29 at Noble High School in North Berwick, with qualifiers advancing to the New England championships that begin March 7 in Methuen, Massachusetts.
“I don’t think there’s anything more to add in wrestling because we’ve got a lot of championships — four regionals, two individual state championships, two team championships with the duals, the girls championship, New England qualifier and the New England championships,” Bisson said. “The kids certainly are getting some championship-level competition.”