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thought's about the new rule changes from the National Federation of HS

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Sleeping the Sport

by Dr. Bill Welker

Some wrestling enthusiasts "eat, drink, and sleep" the mat sport. I am one of them, literally. Allow me to explain.

We always get the new rule changes from the National Federation of High Schools Associations (NFHS) in September. One change, regarding reporting to the score table during a dual meet, read as follows on the power point presentation sent to each state interpreter:

"Wrestler A1 properly reports to the scorer's table. Once the coach sees which opposing wrestler reports to the scorer's table, the coach withdraws Wrestler A1. Wrestler A1 is disqualified. That weight class is forfeited to Wrestler B1."

The intent of the NFHS was to speed up the match, eliminating coaches playing "strategy" games as to which proper wrestler they're going to send to the scorer's table. It was also their intention to punish the coach, who withdrew his wrestler after reporting to the scorer's table, by eliminating his wrestler from further competition in that dual meet.

There was a problem, however, and it was brought to my attention at one of the rules clinics I was giving this fall for West Virginia coaches and officials.

Unfortunately, a few state interpreters were telling their people that Wrestler A1 (above) would be allowed to wrestle the next weight up, if he qualified, because the win was considered a "forfeit" for Wrestler B1 (above). By definition, a forfeit is "when a wrestler, for any reason, fails to appear for a match."

So what was the "glitch." I began to second-guess myself. As an obsessive-compulsive (yes, almost like Monk), I dwelled on it for a couple days. Then it hit me, and how the answer hit me is "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."

I solved the problem in a "dream," in the middle of the night. Waking up, I got out my rulebook and found the answer about which I dreamed. The problem was one of "semantics." Please follow carefully.

In years past, a match did not start until both wrestlers were on the mat and the referee blew the initial whistle. That rule was changed a couple of years ago. It now reads:

"A match begins when the proper wrestler (meaning a boy who has weighed- in at that weight class) reports to the scorer's table in dual meets and tournaments until the conclusion of wrestling."

Since Wrestler A1 reported to the scorer's table, the match for him (in essence) had started. That being the case, when the coach withdrew Wrestler A1, Wrestler B1 would be awarded the win by a "default," not a forfeit.

By rulebook definition, a "Any coach of the contestant or the contestant has the prerogative to default a MATCH to the opponent any time by informing the referee."

I immediately contacted the NFHS about this problem in language and received the following reply from Bob Colgate, editor of the wrestling rulebook:

"I know your concern is with regards to the language and the use of 'forfeit' and 'default' for interpretation. The rules committee will go back this next April and hopefully make some editorial changes to try and clear up what the intended purpose is with Rule 5-8 (Disqualification). The NFHS interpretation is that if the wrestler is withdrawn (during a MATCH), they are done and cannot wrestle again in a dual meet."

In sum, a wrestler who has defaulted anytime during a match can never wrestle in the next weight class of a dual meet. Yes, a dream in the middle of the night solved my quandary. Maybe William Longgood was right: "Dreams and dedication are a powerful combination."

The Near Fall

Only the top or offensive wrestler can score near-fall points. He can do so by forcing his opponent (the defensive wrestler) into any of the following positions:

1) The defensive wrestler is in a high bridge situation.

2) The defensive wrestler is leaning back on his elbows with his shoulders facing the mat.

3) The defensive wrestler is exposing both his shoulders to the mat within four inches or less contact with the mat surface.

4) The defensive wrestler has one shoulder in contact with the mat and the other shoulder at a 45-degree position from the mat or less.

The offensive wrestler can score two match points by holding the defensive wrestler in any of the previously discussed positions for two seconds.

If the offensive wrestler is able to control the defensive wrestler in any of the previous positions for five continuous seconds, he would be awarded three match points.

The official usually indicates the presence of such near-fall situations by making an angular sweep of his arm, with each sweep indicating one second of back exposure. The referee will not signal any match points until the near-fall situation is terminated.

Also note, a near-fall can still be awarded if both shoulders of the defensive wrestler remain partially in-bounds or just one shoulder is completely in-bounds.

The half-nelson, arm-bar series, cradle, and three-quarter nelson are common pinning situations that can score near-fall points as well as the pin or fall, concluding the match - which is next week's rules discussion.

Mini-Mat Quiz

Q: Utilizing a half nelson, Wrestler A forces Wrestler B to a high bridge on his head for four seconds before Wrestler B was able to turn over on his stomach. Then Wrestler A quickly caught Wrestler B in a cradle and placed him placed him in another near-fall situation for over five seconds before the end of the period buzzer sounded. How many near-fall points would Wrestler A receive?

A: Five match points. He would receive two match points for the half nelson, which was held for less than five seconds. Then Wrestler A earned three match points for holding the cradle near-fall for five seconds before the period ran out.

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