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Changes are coming to the Iowa high school state wrestling tournament — changes to the brackets, that is. 

The Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) announced on Monday that it will seed all the brackets of the individual state wrestling tournament, beginning in 2019.

The top eight wrestlers at each weight, in each class, will be seeded ahead of the competition, while the remaining eight qualifiers will be drawn in at random. Previously, all 16 wrestlers were randomly drawn into each bracket. District champions were paired up with district runner-ups in the first round.

IHSAA will use Trackwrestling’s computerized system to seed the competitors, and efforts will be made to make sure wrestlers from the same districts are separated in each bracket.

“The seeding of wrestling tournaments is something that happens every weekend across the state and across the country,” IHSAA wrestling administrator Lewie Curtis said in a release. “Our state tournament is one of very few that hasn’t used seeding to determine its brackets. With this decision, that’s no longer the case.”

Trackwrestling uses a series of criteria to determine the seeds. Approximately 30 states use Trackwrestling to provide tournament seeding. Points are given to qualifiers based on the following factors, in order of use:

  1. Head-to-head competition
  2. Competition against common opponents
  3. Returning state champion
  4. Returning second- or third-place finisher in previous season (equal value)
  5. Returning fourth- through eighth-place finisher from previous season (valued in order)
  6. District champion
  7. Returning state qualifier in previous season
  8. Winning percentage in the current season
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The criteria is only applied to each of the 16 qualifying wrestlers, and each wrestler will receive one point for their criteria advantage, with a maximum of 15 possible points.

If a decision cannot be made based not the criteria and each wrestlers’ winning percentages are the same, each wrestler will receive a half a point.

Here is an example provided by the IHSAA:

Wrestler A

  • Returning place-winner
  • Beat Wrestler B head-to-head (+1)
  • Beat a wrestler who beat Wrestler C (+1)
  • Wrestler D is not a returning place-winner (+1)
  • Total: 3 points

Wrestler B

  • First-time qualifier
  • Lost to Wrestler A head-to- head
  • Wrestler C is a returning state qualifier
  • No common criteria with Wrestler D, 30-6 record (+1)
  • Total: 1 point

Wrestler C

  • Returning qualifier
  • Lost to a wrestler who lost to Wrestler A
  • Wrestler B is not a returning state qualifier (+1)
  • Wrestler D is not a returning state qualifier (+1)
  • Total: 2 points

Wrestler D

  • First-time qualifier
  • Wrestler A is a returning place- winner
  • No common criteria with Wrestler B, 28-14 record
  • Wrestler C is a returning qualifier
  • Total: 0 points
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This change comes less than two months after the IHSAA’s Board of Control unanimously approved a change allowing the coaches of the qualifying teams for the state dual tournament to seed each bracket prior to competition. The change was recommended by a wrestling advisory committee.

Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.

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