Tim’s Take: It’s time for the NCHSAA to fix the wrestling dual team playoffs
On Tuesday night, the Laney and North Brunswick wrestling teams advanced to the third round of the dual team playoffs.
Their reward is another road trip, just like so many others in Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender counties have made over the past decade.
It’s become a problem. A big one and it’s time the N.C. High School Athletic Association fixed it.
The NCHSAA has archive playoff brackets dating back to 2007. Since that time, 20 teams from the three county region have advanced to the third round. Only Topsail in 2012 was chosen to host. That year, the other other three teams in the pod were North Brunswick, Croatan and Durham School of Arts.
With three of the four schools bordering the ocean, the NCHSAA had no choice but to award it to one of them. When there is a choice, the state always makes our local teams travel.
Unlike every other sport that has team playoffs, wrestling sites are chosen by the state. Other than earning an automatic playoff spot, winning your conference means nothing.
This year, the NCHSAA awarded first and second round host sites to eight teams that finished second in their conference and three teams that were selected as wild cards. All of those pods had at least one conference champion that were more deserving to be a host.
The reasoning, according to an email I received from the NCHSAA, is to “cut down on the distance traveled by the collective group when possible.”
The only problem is that logic doesn’t exist for any other sport. If the argument is that no other sport has more than one team traveling for a playoff contest, the solution is simple.
Make the tournament run over two weeks and only wrestle one match each night. The first and second rounds would be contested on a Tuesday and Thursday, and the following week the third round would take place on Tuesday, the regional final on Thursday and the state championship on Saturday.
In that scenario, only one team has to travel. The state could keep the predetermined bracket, just like it does for tennis. If a conference champion and a team that finished second in their conference meet, the conference champion hosts. If two equal seeds meet (two conference champions or two runners-up), the team with the higher winning percentage hosts.
If a match has multiple forfeits, it could end quickly and I’m sure that’s the reason the NCHSAA likes to wrestle two rounds in one night. They don’t seem to care about lopsided first round volleyball matches that take less than an hour to play, like the 25-3, 25-3, 25-12 beat down Alleghany put on Thomas Jefferson this year.
I would be fine with extending the playoffs to two weeks, but I think there is a better solution using the formula that is already in place.
Before the NCHSAA started seeding football, soccer, volleyball and basketball playoffs, they used a predetermined bracket with conference seeding priority in case equal seeds met. That would be perfect to use for wrestling.
Let’s take Laney’s first and second round pod from Tuesday night as an example. The four teams were: Laney (No. 1 Mideastern), South View (No. 1 Patriot), Lumberton (No. 2 Sandhills) and Green Hope (wild card).
Since Laney and South View were the only conference champions, one of them would host. In order to determine that, you would look at the conference seeding priority. If the Mideastern was ahead of the Patriot, Laney would host. If the Patriot was ahead of the Mideastern, South View would host.
Seems pretty simple to me and it would only take the NCHSAA about a minute to create a conference seeding priority list that rotated each year.
List of area teams to reach the third round since 2007
Site that hosted is in parenthesis
2019: 3A North Brunswick (Cape Fear), 4A Laney (Jack Britt)
2018: 3A West Brunswick (Cape Fear)
2017: 3A West Brunswick (Gray’s Creek), 4A Laney (Cary)
2016: 1A Trask (Rosewood), 3A West Brunswick (Asheboro), 4A Laney (Jack Britt)
2015: 4A Laney (Holly Springs)
2014: 4A Laney (Jack Britt)
2013: 2A Topsail (Croatan), 3A West Brunswick (Southern Nash)
2012: 2A North Brunswick and Topsail (Topsail), 3A South Brunswick (Orange)
2011: 2A Topsail (Croatan)
2010: 2A Topsail (Croatan)
2009: 1A Topsail (Thomasville), 2A South Brunswick (Orange)
2008: 1A Topsail (Robbinsville)
2007: 1A Topsail (South Davidson), 4A Laney (Jack Britt)