Saturday’s finals at the All-Class State Wrestling meet will mark the last time the current group of weight classes will be used in Montana.
Starting with the 2013-2014 season, Montana will convert to the National Wrestling Federation weight class system that effectively shuffles Montana’s current weight classes toward the heavier end.
Montana High School Association assistant director Brian Michelotti said it was a matter of making things easier on interstate competitions.
“We had a proposal out of Baker that we go to the National Federation weight classes,” Michelotti said of the small town near the North Dakota border. “The far west and eastern teams in Montana that compete with Idaho and North Dakota were having a harder time matching up with the different weight classes.”
Montana is currently one of just five states that doesn’t use the National Federation weight classes.
“There was a study at the national level made by the Federation that looked at the weights of 200,000 wrestlers around the country, and these are the numbers they came up with,” Michelotti explained.
Though Montana is changing to mirror most of the rest of the nation, the state’s new divisions will still have one difference from the rest of the country – the 98-pound class. The National Federation only has 14 weight classes starting with 106 pounds.
“A proposal went to the floor that we amend 98 pounds back in,” Michelotti said of the MHSA’s January meeting. “The reasoning was that we’ve been looking for more participation, and also that going straight to 106 pounds was too big of a jump.”
Butte High head coach Jim Bob Humphrey said he had mixed feelings about the changes.
“I think we’re going to have some trouble filling those upper weights, but it’ll probably go in cycles,” he said. “That 98-pound class is tough to fill sometimes too. You lose a weight between 126 and 152, and even with two guys going to divisionals you’re going to lose a spot.”