HYW Intro | Wrestler Info | Pairing Info | Practices | Attending Meets | Tournament Tips | Getting to the Middle School

How Wrestlers Are Paired At Meets and Tournaments


Youth Wrestlers in the Inter County Wrestling League (ICWL) wrestle opponents of as equal age and weight as possible. In meets between clubs these matches are pre selected in a process known as pairings. "Pairing" meetings take place on the Thursday night prior to the Saturday wrestling meet. Coaches from the teams participating either meet together or teleconference after Thursday practice and present their respective roster of wrestlers to each other. Each roster identifies the wrestlers by age, weight, years of wrestling experience and skill level. The Coaches begin by removing any wrestlers who are not attending the match (scratched), and then start with one team’s roster and go down the alphabetical list to find opponents from the other rosters who are as close to age and weight as possible. Differences in age are measured in months and in weight by matters of 4 to 5 pounds difference - especially in the younger and lighter groups a difference in as much of 6 months of age and 5 pounds of weight can void a pairing. Once age and weight are matched, years of experience and skill level are discussed. A wrestler of Zero Years experience is almost always paired with an opponent of equal experience - it is only when a high skill level is earned that a varied number of years experience can be negotiated. For Example: A wrestler who has one year of experience, but has wrestled in every tournament around and done well in these tournaments may be adjudged able to wrestle an opponent who has 3 years experience but only wrestles for the club and has medium success. Each wrestler of advanced skill is discussed in these terms, but when we are starting out, a 7 year old, 65 pound, first year wrestler is paired with a 6.5 to 7.5 year old, 61 to 69 pound, first year wrestler, that's it. Sometimes a wrestler has few pairs on the opponent roster, we try to get every wrestler at least two matches at a meet - three is fine, four if the weight and age class is "loaded" with a large number of opponents. Parents can ask the coaches for fewer matches and we can accommodate; asking for more matches is fine also, but we are constrained by available pairs and time restrictions. There are no "weigh ins" for regular club meets.

Parents will be mindful of this process as it is time consuming and is an extraordinary effort by the volunteer coaches. By Thursday practice any wrestler who cannot attend the Saturday meet MUST notify the club. Any wrestler who misses Thursday practice and does not notify the club that they will attend Saturday will be treated as a "scratch" by the pairings coaches. Nothing is more frustrating on a Saturday than having a child eager to compete finding out that their opponent is a "no show".

In tournaments the matches are paired by seeding or random depending on the type of tournament. Prior to most tournaments the entrants are required to "weigh in", sometimes by their home club, but always on a certified scale and near the time of the event. Age and weight are separated into four divisions of Pee wee (6 years old and under), Bantam (7 and 8), Midget (9 and 10), Junior (11 and 12 years old) with weight classes usually change at every 5 pounds. First year wrestlers are known as Novice with Zero years’ experience. Haverford hosts a "True" Novice tournament as does the ICWL end of season Novice Championship. Other tournaments in our area will offer "Novice" Tournaments, but define the entry to first, second or third year wrestlers who have never "placed" in "Open" Tournaments. This means that a wrestler may be in their third year with the club but has never finished first, second or third in any previous tournament they have entered may be randomly paired with an opponent who has never wrestled before but decided to enter this event. Three Year and Under Novice tournaments are more common than "True or First Year" Novice. An "Open" Tournament that has no Novice delineation is exactly that - OPEN to ANY wrestler who wants to wrestle. At an "Open", the pairings are often "seeded", meaning that a committee meets a day or more ahead of the tournament and determines the established skill levels of the entrants to rank them in numerical order. So a #1 Seed will wrestle the lowest seeded entrant in the first round. This is significant for those fully interested in the sport because keeping a record of every match wrestled is important. Over time the list of opponents met and the scores gained in these meetings can aid in the seeding process. At a "single" elimination tournament the lower seeded wrestlers are more often than not heading home after the first match. In a "double" elimination tournament, the lower seeds have opportunity to wrestle again and gain more experience. In an "Open Novice" tournament the pairings are usually random. "Round Robin" tournaments are gaining popularity in our area. In "Round Robin" four to six entrants of same age and weight are grouped together and wrestle each other - so there is a guaranteed number of matches to wrestle, win or lose. All wrestlers new to the sport are encouraged to enter tournaments and also encouraged to ask the coaches what tournaments to choose. The Haverford Youth Program sends wrestlers and coaches to tournaments on most weekends of the season. Please remember that every match competed is experience that builds into the future of that athletes career in this sport. Winning or losing is not the goal of a young wrestler - gaining experience and improving skill level is the goal. When a young wrestler steps onto the mat he or she is already a winner!