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February 15, 2013

Regional wrestling tourney has unfair look to some

OSSAA says it comes down to money, balance

NORMAN — After a week off for Dual State, all class 6A wrestling teams are back at work today and Saturday at Regional Tournaments. With the top four placers in each weight division advancing to the state tournament Feb. 22-23 at the Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City, this is the most important week of the season.

Norman, Norman North, Moore, Westmoore and Southmoore  will join Edmond North, Edmond Santa Fe, Eisenhower, Lawton, Midwest City, Muskogee, Mustang, Putnam City, Putnam City North, Putnam City West, U.S. Grant and Yukon at the 6A West Regional at Midwest City.

The East Regional is at Bixby High and will include Bartlesville, Bixby, Booker T. Washington, Broken Arrow, Choctaw, Edmond Memorial, Enid, Jenks, Nathan Hale, Owasso, Ponca City, Sand Springs, Sapulpa, Stillwater and Union.

For the ninth consecutive year, the West regional will feature 17 teams while the East has only 15. In some coaches and fans eyes this imbalance gives the East an unfair advantage to winning the state title. With an unbalance number of teams, they have to wrestle more matches than their counterparts on the East and that makes it harder for the top teams in the West to qualify wrestlers for the state meet.

Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association (OSSAA) Assistant Director Mike Clark disagrees.

“The problem is geographic’s and strength,” Clark said. “In a perfect world we would put 16 teams on each side and also divide the powers equally. The problem is this would create an increase in cost for the school in a time where funding is becoming critical. The member schools have let us know that they want geographic’s to be considered more.”

In Class 6A there are 18 teams that can be considered located on the West side of the state and 14 on the East. To make it balanced, the OSSAA would just need to move two teams from the West over into the East regional. But Clark said that would cause an “imbalance of power.”

Edmond North is the only team from the West ranked in the top five in 6A. The SaberCats and Lions give the West three of the top 10.

“Because of the imbalance we will send one team from the east to the west-- Muskogee,” Clark said. “And by sending 2 teams from the west to the east we get a 17-15 split, we could drive another team from the west to the east and that would give us a perfect 16-16 split. But here is another consideration. The teams we drive to the east cannot be a top 15 team because it would create a bigger imbalance.  We also do not make it a practice to send the Lawton schools.  So we get down to a handful of schools that are ranked at the bottom and we ask them to go East spend the additional money for rooms and meals and generally they do not have much success.”

With 17 teams on the West it is still the overall weakest regional with only four of the top 10 teams, according to Clark.

West Regional has the number: 1, 3, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14.

East Regional has the number:  2, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 15.

“Do I think it is fair?,” Clark said. “I think it’s as fair as possible with as little travel as possible. Based on last year state results less than 40 percent of the medalist came from a West side team and last year we had 18 teams on the west side. It does at first appearance look unbalanced, but if you look at the top 4 placers at each weight at the state tournament you will see that those 14 schools will have more than 60 percent of the medals.”

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