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USA Wrestling changes competition format at U.S. Nationals and World Team Trials

Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
01/06/2006


USA Wrestling has announced a series of changes in the format for its two major Senior-level events held each year, the U.S. National Championships and the U.S. World Team Trials. These changes will begin in 2006 and will also be in effect for the 2007 season.

These format revisions are designed to provide the U.S. athletes with a system that more closely resembles the way that international wrestling competitions are conducted under the new rules of the sport. Ultimately, the changes are intended to prepare U.S. athletes for success in major international competitions including the World Championships and Olympic Games.

The changes affect all three styles of the sport, men's freestyle, men's Greco-Roman and women's freestyle wrestling. The leaders within each style have made some changes that are specific to that style, based upon the needs and realities of each discipline within the United States.

These format changes were made by the Sports Committee of each style, then approved by the USA Wrestling Executive Committee.

FILA, the international wrestling federation, changed the format of international wrestling tournaments to a one-day event for each weight class. This reality is a major part of the consideration for the change in the U.S. competition formats.

U.S. National Championship format changes

In the past, the U.S. National Championships was an open tournament for U.S. citizens held over two days, with preliminary action on the first day, with the tournament completed through medal matches on the second day. In 2005, USA Wrestling switched the format to a one-day event for each weight class. Half of the weight classes were held on the first day, with the other weight classes held on the second day.

Starting in 2006, the U.S. National Championships for men's freestyle and Greco-Roman will be a one-day tournament, with a separate Qualification Tournament held on the previous day. Eight wrestlers in each division will advance directly into the U.S. National Championships on the final day. In addition, eight more athletes who qualify for the U.S. Nationals competition through the Qualification Tournament held the day before will also be entered, completing a 16-athlete bracket for the championships.

In weight categories with 19 or less athletes registered, participants advance to the U.S. National Championships, with no "Qualification Tournament" needed for advancement.

In effect, the first day at the U.S. Nationals will be a Qualification Tournament for all of the competitors except for eight who have already qualified. Eight more athletes in each weight class will advance to the final day and enter the U.S. National Championships to complete the bracket. The Qualification Tournament will be held to the semifinals of the championship and consolation brackets, with those athletes then advancing to the next day.

The U.S. Nationals will be a double-elimination bracket, with consolation wrestlebacks to seventh place.

The seeds in the men's divisions will be determined on a conference call upon the close of registration on the Tuesday prior to the U.S. Nationals. The members of the separation and seeding committee will be determined by the Federation of Clubs.

For the 2006 U.S. Nationals for men, there are separation criteria to automatically advance to the U.S. Nationals. All current U.S. National Team members (who were in the top three at the previous World Team Trials) will automatically be among the eight if they enter the same weight class. In addition, the top U.S. finisher within the top four at the Dave Schultz Memorial International will be automatically among the eight if he is not already among them. The separation and seeding committee will then determine the remaining athletes who will be separated out, until each weight class has eight.

There will be a slightly different seeding criteria used for the 2007 and 2008 U.S. National Championships for men. .

The U.S. National Championships in women's freestyle will be a one-day tournament. There will not be a preliminary qualifying event in women's wrestling. The athletes will all weigh-in on the Friday night prior to the tournament, and all entries will compete on Saturday. A seeding committee determined by the Federation of Clubs will seed four athletes in each weight class at the close of registration.

Click here for 2006 Men's Freestyle U.S. National Championships and Qualification Tournament Event Procedures

Click here for 2006 Greco-Roman U.S. National Championships and Qualification Tournament Event Procedures

Click here for 2006 Women's Freestyle U.S. National Championships Event Procedures

World Team Trials format changes

In all three styles, this will be a one-day competition, featuring athletes who have qualified to compete through specific approved qualifying standards. Athletes will be separated by a seeding committee with placement from the U.S. National Championships a top priority. All three styles will conduct a double-elimination bracket, with consolation wrestlebacks to third place.

The finals of the World Team Trials will be a best-of-three competition held during the same day.

In men's freestyle and men's Greco-Roman, there may be athletes who qualify to advance directly to the best-of-three finals based upon specific achievements. If no athlete in a weight class meets these standards, then all athletes will be placed in the World Team Trials competition bracket. These exceptions are:

- Men's freestyle - Current year World medalists that win the National Championship will earn a bye out of the World Team Trials tournament and will face the winner of the tournament in a best of three competition the same day
- Men's Greco-Roman - Current year World Team member that competed for the Bronze medal or higher that win the current year National Championship will earn a bye out of the World Team Trials tournament and will face the winner of the tournament in a best of three competition the same day.

In women's freestyle wrestling, the current U.S. Nationals champion in each division will advance directly to the best-of-three finals to face the winner of the World Team Trials tournament during the same day as the World Team Trials Tournament.

The format changes have been approved for the 2006 and 2007 World Team Trials. The format for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials is still being developed, and has not yet been forwarded for approval to the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Athletes competing in each style are recommended to review and understand the specific U.S. Nationals and World Team Trials formats for their specific style.

Specific Event Procedures documents for the World Team Trials will be posted soon.

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