Individual champions will replace a team dual meet champion when the Shore Conference Tournament is wrestled this coming season.
According to the proposal from the Shore Conference Wrestling Committee that was confirmed and sent by Shore Conference President Rick Carroll, the top 24 wrestlers in each of the 14 weight classes based on prestige points will be entered in the Shore Conference Tournament.
The tournament had been a dual-meet format since it began in 1975. Howell High School won the Shore Conference Tournament last winter when the Rebels defeated Raritan High School, 36-18, in the finals.
The tournament, according to the proposal, will be pre-seeded based on the criteria points used by the NJSIAA in seeding wrestlers for the 32 district tournaments. That method is referred to as the prestige points.
According to the proposal, wrestlers will compete until the top four remain in each weight division. There will be no wrestleback consolation rounds, while the losers of the semifinals will wrestle for third place.
A team champion will still be crowned, but it will be determined by which school’s wrestlers record the most points during the tournament.
This change will resemble the tournament format used by other counties and conferences throughout New Jersey.
The Shore Conference Tournament will be wrestled Jan. 26-27 at Red Bank Regional High School.
According to the proposal, the new format was created to satisfy several concerns that coaches had about the old format of the tournament. Those concerns included match count and appropriate level of competition for both individual wrestlers as well as teams.
According to the proposal, the new format addresses match count by creating several “tiers” for wrestlers who receive a bye. The new format alleviates the concern of a wrestler competing in too many matches over the course of the weekend.
The new format also addresses individual level of competition with “tiers” of byes. That results in wrestlers who have lower seeds opening the tournament wrestling an opponent closer to their skill level.
An example of that rationale is that a wrestler who is seeded No. 32 will not meet a wrestler who may be seeded No. 1. Instead that wrestler will be involved either in a pigtail bout against a lower seed or he will wrestle the No. 17 seed.
Also, the change in the tournament will encourage participation of all teams — despite school size and skill level — as every wrestler will open the tournament with a competitive bout.