In high school wrestling, male opponents and female opponents are grouped into different levels based on their body weight. Primarily determined by the National Federation of State High School Association, weight classes help to ensure that scholastic wrestling participants are competing against evenly matched wrestlers, regardless of age. While adult male and adult female weight classes differ, this article will primarily focus on high school wrestling.
For the youngest competitors, many tournaments use the “Madison system” where children and teen division events do not use preset weight classes. At the end of weigh-ins, children will be sorted by weight, and brackets will then be made by grouping them into sets of four or eight (depending on turnout). Children will be divided by weight, experience, and age (whenever possible). Using the Madison system means children and teens will no longer cut weight since they don’t typically know the weight classes for that tournament in advance.
During the 2011-2012 season, the most significant change to weight classes in the last 23 years of high school wrestling took place. The NFHS approved an upward shift of the weight classes, beginning with the 103-pound class moving to 106 pounds, which resulted in new weights for 10 of the 14 classes. The change in weight classes, along with 17 other rules revisions, were subsequently approved by the 2011-12 NFHS Board of Directors. The current male high school wrestling weight classes which are still in place today are 106 (pounds), 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 182, 195, 220 and 285. The current female high school wrestling weight classes are 101 (pounds), 109, 116, 123, 130, 136, 143, 155, 170, 191, and 235.
“The change in weight classes resulted from a three-to-four year process utilizing data from the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) Optimal Performance Calculator,” said Dale Pleimann, chair of the NFHS Wrestling Rules Committee and former assistant executive director of the Missouri State High School Activities Association. “The rules committee was able to analyze data from almost 200,000 wrestlers across the country, with the goal to create weight classes that have approximately seven percent of the wrestlers in each weight class.
Although many state interscholastic organizations do not have to abide by NFHS recommendations, typically they will follow the lead set by the national group and will have similar, if not identical weight classes. The NFHS did not make any new modifications to the weight classes in their latest meeting in April 2020 so the groupings above will carry over into the 2020-21 season.