To avoid mismatches, and for obvious safety reasons, amateur wrestlers only face competitors of comparable sizes. As a result, wrestling organizations set strict weight-measurement rules to ensure heavier wrestlers don’t sneak through to face lighter opponents. At the high school level, each state sets its own standards, but state associations typically follow the rules established by the National Federation of State High School Associations, or NFHS.
High School Classes
High school wrestlers typically compete in one of 14 weight classes established by the NFHS. In the lowest weight class, wrestlers can weigh no more than 106 pounds. The maximum weights, in pounds, for the remaining classes are: 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 182, 195, 220 and 285. A few states make exceptions to these rules. For example, New York adds a 99-pound weight class to the 14 standard classes. Some states also set lower weight limits for non-varsity competition. In Ohio, for example, weight classes for all-freshman meets are: 98, 103, 112, 119, 125, 130, 135, 140, 145, 152, 160, 171, 189 and 265 pounds.
Establishing a Minimum Weight
Each state develops its own preseason minimum weight certification procedures, which go beyond merely stepping on a scale. In New York, for example, all wrestlers are assessed within 14 days of the beginning of the wrestling season to establish the minimum weight at which they may compete during the season. Wrestlers may compete in higher weight classes if they gain weight as the season progresses. During assessments, wrestlers are weighed, take a urine test -- to ensure they aren’t dehydrated in an attempt to lower their weights -- and are subject to a skinfold test to check their body fat. A wrestler’s minimum certified weight can be adjusted if the body fat level is more than 7 percent for boys or 14 percent for girls.
Making the Weight
Regardless of a wrestler’s minimum weight certification, he still cannot wrestle within a weight class if he weighs more than the limit. Each wrestler is weighed on the day of a match to verify his eligibility for a particular weight class. In Kansas, for example, competitors are weighed between 30 and 90 minutes before a dual meet, or between 30 minutes and two hours prior to a tournament. They can strip down to minimal clothing but must wear a “suitable undergarment” on their “buttocks and groin area.” Wrestlers who are above the weight for their classes may be re-weighed as many times as they wish before the weigh-in period ends.
The Amateur Athletic Union, or AAU, also holds competitions for high school-age wrestlers. For 15- and 16-year-old competitors, the AAU uses the standard NFHS weight classes, but adds three lower classes, with maximum weights of 84, 91 and 98 pounds. For 17- through 19-year-olds, the AAU eliminates the two lightest classes and leaves the upper 15 unchanged. High school wrestlers who move on to collegiate competition are sorted into 10 weight classes, with a maximum of 125 pounds in the lightest class and 285 in the heaviest.