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District 11 talks wrestling, merger, ratings

Published September 19. 2013 05:00PM

District 11 announced that changes to the team wrestling tournament will be underway for the upcoming season. Instead of having 10-team formats in both 3A and 2A, 12-team tournaments will now be used moving forward.

The qualified teams and seeds will no longer be determined by a committee of coaches, rather through the power point system that the district has used in all sports over the past two years.

The tournaments will also change from a single-elimination standpoint, to double-elimination once the quarterfinals get underway, pairing the consolation winner and the finals runner-up in "the ultimate qualifier" bout, giving that winner the second and final spot to the PIAA team wrestling tournament.

The added teams and bouts will also change the venues, as the tournament, in its entirety, will no longer be held at Freedom on a Friday-Saturday format.

The opening night of the tournament will begin on Thursday, Jan.30, as the lower eight seeds (5 vs.12, 6 vs.11, 7 vs.10 and 8 vs.9) will square off at sites to be determined. Winners of those bouts will then move on to Saturday's (Feb. 1) events at Freedom, where they will meet the top four seeds and begin the double-elimination phase. Losers of the initial phase are eliminated from the tournament.

Both 3A and 2A finals will be held at 5:30 pm on Feb. 1, but the newly minted "ultimate qualifier" bout will take center stage at 7:30 pm as the grand spectacle.

As far as the potential merger of the Lehigh Valley Conference and Mountain Valley Conference, it appears to be a waiting game at this point. All MVC schools have received their letters of invitation and a response on whether each specific school wants to join the LVC is due by October 1.

That's when things will start to move quickly for both leagues.

"At this point, all the schools are talking to their upper administration to figure out what each school wants to do," said Stroudsburg principal and MVC president Jeff Sodl. "Once all the schools send in their response, that's when all the nuts and bolts of the conference need to be finalized. We'll need to figure out divisions, schedules and all the details, really by November, because we need to start generating schedules and working on non-conference opponents before the new year.

Other notable changes from District 11 include more weight given to the result of a contest through the power rating system. Last year, there was a 55/45 split given to the result of a contest/compared to strength of schedule. This year the criteria has shifted to a 59/41 formula.

This year, teams who fail to make up scheduled contests, will be punished in the power rating. This action would come into play primarily in the spring with sports like baseball and softball, where weather issues have forced postponements of contests towards the back end of the season, which has resulted in games not being made up for various reasons.

This season, if the district committee believes a school failed to work all options to make up a contest, their power rating will be multiplied by a percentage lower than 100 percent.

Also, wins and losses against non-PIAA opponents will count against the record, but will not be used in the power rating formula.

Lastly, the only other major news is the unsettling future of where the District 11 baseball championships will take place. Coca-Cola Park has been the latest and preferred home for all four District 11 championships, but scheduling and costs are always factors that need to be determined in order to play at the home of the Iron Pigs.

The Lehigh Valley Baseball Academy provided a sponsorship of $4,000 last year to offset costs of playing the championships at Coca-Cola Park, but what will happen in the spring of 2014 is still up in the air.

"Our primary objective is to stay at Coca-Cola Park," said Catasauqua athletic director Tom Moll. "The Iron Pigs schedule has been accommodating to us, but we don't know what their schedule is for next year. The sponsorship from last year helped significantly as well, but we're working on where we're going to be playing these games next year."

Limeport, Parkland, Hackett Park and Pine Grove were all sites used last year for semifinal contests and would be in contention to host the finals should things with the Iron Pigs fall through. Local college venues are also being considered.

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