A Commentary on High School Wrestling Records

From the Hudson, WI. wrestling page...

"Wrestling statistics are very hard to analyze. The numbers alone can be very misleading. I often cringe at the thought of people viewing these statistics with an untrained eye. The following items are a guideline to keep in mind:

Three Divisions: Prior to 1980, all wrestlers competed together. There was no Division 1, Division 2 & Division 3. When Don Boumeester placed 3rd in the State in 1974, he did so by competing against Mineral Point, Coleman, Ellsworth & Athens in addition to the Division 1 teams we compete against today. We all believe that Division 1 is the strongest division but we also must recognize that many of our states greatest wrestlers were not from a school that would be considered Division 1. Ben Peterson, Matt Hanutke, Garrett Lowney & Tim Hartung to name a few.

# of Matches: 25 years ago a wrestler would typically get in about 30 matches heading into the state tournament. Today many kids have 45 matches heading into the state tournament. For this reason almost all statistics have been re-written in the last 15 years. Many of these records are simply a product of more matches. Looking at percentages (%) often helps. A 25-1 (.962) record is better than a 33-2 (.943) record. It should be noted that this is an accepted theory among wrestling coaches as % is how we seed wrestlers in tournaments. For instance, at the Bi-State Classic, a 12-1 (.923) wrestler gets seeded higher than a 20-2 (.909) wrestler unless there is other criteria such as head-to-head.

Rule Changes: Occasionally the rules in our sport are altered which can have an impact on statistics. Most notably was in 1986 when the "Technical Fall" was introduced. "Stalling" interpretations continually change (for the better) which has led to more high scoring matches. In 1989 a thirteenth weight class was added, ties are no longer possible and now there is even a 14th weight class.

Weight of a Wrestler: Statistics, especially "Career" statistics almost always favor kids who were very light. A wrestler who wrestles 106 pounds as a Freshman will get the chance to wrestle many other Freshmen and Sophomores. In fact, at a typical State Tournament in Division 1, 14 of the 16 wrestlers will be Freshman or Sophomores at 106 pounds. At 145 pounds, it is just the opposite. Typically all 16 wrestlers at the State Tournament will be Juniors or Seniors. You can see that you can be an extremely talented Freshman at 160 pounds and you will be fortunate to win 15-20 matches. Wisconsin has fourteen 4-time State Champions. Twelve of those kids won at least one title at 119 pounds or less.

Trick Stats: Some stats are tricky. If a person loses in tournaments and wrestles in the "backside" of a bracket, his competition is less. He is more likely to win, pin, etc. Had he stayed on the "frontside" of a bracket, he might not achieve nice stats but he will be doing a better job. Another example is a person who has a 30-1 record but loses in the first round at Regionals. He finishes with a 30-2 record. Statistically that is very nice but in reality it is not as nice as another kid with the same record (30-1) who takes 3rd at Regionals (2 losses), 2nd at Sectionals (1 loss) and 6th at State (3 losses). Because the second example wrestles much stronger competition, he had less of a record but in reality did a much better job. Another trick stat is a stat like escapes. It is very important to be good at escapes. But is is more important to not get taken down! Lastly, statistics must be one-sided. If you pin 15 kids but get pinned 15 times, you are not doing as good as a kid with 10 pins who has never given up a pin."