Several years ago, high school wrestling programs began grouping their dual meets into one or two days, giving birth to the super dual.
Now, most schools have at least one super dual on their schedule.
But in 2013-14, the Northern Indiana Conference has decided to go away from its own super dual in favor of an end-of-season tournament. It is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 18 at Mishawaka.
The major reason: All-conference recognition.
“This way, we’ll get more of a true conference first-team, second-team, honorable mention in a tournament style,” says Elkhart Central athletic director Brian Buckley.
Buckley pointed out that under the old system, without a tournament, that one weight class could have two wrestlers with identical records.
With duals against all NIC opponents now optional, the conference tournament winner will be crowned team and individual champions.
“I was in favor of the switch,” says Central head coach Zach Whickcar. “At the end of the day, we are preparing for the state tournament.
“Each team will look to have their toughest lineup in so they have the opportunity to win the tournament. I’m looking forward to it,” he says.
The Northern Lakes, Northern State and Northeast Corner conferences all have end-of-season tournaments.
The NLC does not have a conference super dual. Most of the NSC duals come at the Jimtown Super Dual on Dec. 7. The NECC Super Dual is also Dec. 7, at Lakeland.
Elkhart Memorial, which has won 12 straight NLC wrestling titles, is in a conference system which gathers points from duals then has a season-ending tournament. A combination of the two determines the team winner.
Jim Iannarelli, heading into his first season as Memorial head coach, gives his take on the pros and cons of super duals and tournaments.
“Tourneys highlight individuals and their respective accomplishments,” says Iannarelli, starting with the pros. “You often get a greater variety of wrestlers at tournaments so you see a greater variety of strategy and talent level.
“There isn’t as much stress put on the members of the team in that format as there would be in team competition, either,” he adds. “The wrestlers’ performance and how well they do is solely based on their abilities. At tourneys, I feel wrestlers can be a little more aggressive and take a few more risks to ensure their advancement.
“Super duals can show how a team can work together so the strategy is a little different,” Iannarelli says. “If one wrestler is weak, the others on the team can bring them up.
“It’s all about matchups at super duals,” he says.
Iannarelli also points out some of the cons.
“Tourneys are a whole lot of hurry-up-and-wait sometimes, especially for those individuals who are in the championship bracket,” says Iannarelli. “The wrestlers need to exhibit a lot of mental toughness when it comes to their individual performance.
“There is more stress as one advances and a lot of disappointment if one loses. This can mentally fatigue and ‘break’ some wrestlers into not performing at their best,” he says.
Jim Pickard, who coaches at NLC member Goshen, has a schedule that mixes super duals and tournaments. A year ago, the Lafayette Harrison and Hobart super duals accounted for all but seven of the Redskins’ dual meets.
“The good thing about a super dual is that every kid is guaranteed five matches,” says Pickard. “In a tournament, they could have two and be done.
“It’s good to have a tournament format, too, because it gets your kids ready for the state tournament (series),” he says.
Long-time Jimtown coach Mark Kerrn says duals are fan pleasers, especially if rival teams are involved.
“Kids can get more experience in that one day (in a super dual),” says Kerrn. “There are pros and cons (to both super dual and tournament formats).”