Boonville Pirates wrestling coach Justin Hahn said overall the new rule changes for the 2020-21 season were good for the sport of wrestling.

As the result of a concerted effort to accommodate the growing number of female wrestlers, the 2020-21 high school wrestling rules changes are headlined by significant adjustments to weigh-in protocol and appropriate hair length requirements.

The weigh-in procedure was altered through a combination of changes.

Following an amendment, legal uniform will now be worn during weigh-in and that no additional weight allowance be granted. An additional clause prohibiting shoes and ear guards during weigh-in was also written.

Weighing-in with a legal uniform allowed the committee to break down more gender barriers. Previously, weigh-ins consisted of shoulder-to-shoulder lineups of each contestant that: were separated by gender, took place a maximum of one hour prior to competition and required supervision by a referee of each respective gender.

With the institution of the legal uniform (one-piece singlet or two-piece), male and female wrestlers are now able to weigh-in together in the same lineup, allowing gender-specific language to be removed from all three rules. Additionally, the form-fitted compression shirt offers females a more suitable uniform for post-weigh-in skin checks, which are typically done by male officials.

Hahn said the rule change to wear a legal uniform while you weigh in will help break down gender barriers.

“This will allow boys and girls to be weighed in at the same time, making it easier on coaches to provided weigh ins for female athletes,” Hahn said. “The negative part of this rule is that it adds weight to wrestlers and they do not get any extra allowance, so this will add around a half pound to the wrestlers.”

Significant changes to the hair length rule were also linked to the committee’s focus on inclusion. Previously, a wrestler’s hair could not “extend below the top of an ordinary shirt collar” in the back, below earlobe level on the sides or below the eyebrows in the front. Those confinements, along with the requirement that a hair cover be used for hair that exceeded said limitations, were deleted.

Hahn said the hair length rule is good for wrestling and will attract more athletes.

“In the past wrestlers had to secure their hair above the collar,” Hahn said. “This was hard on female athletes having to wear caps. I like this new rule because we were already doing this in the summer and internationally. Females didn’t have to secure their hair in the Olympics or at Fargo so they shouldn’t have to do it in high school.”

Another modification to the wrestling uniform came in order to curtail participants from intentionally lacing their shoes too loosely to cause a stoppage in the action. The feeling was that wrestlers would potentially thwart an opponent’s scoring opportunity.

With the new rule, a technical violation will be assessed in any instance where a shoe comes off, and the injury clock will be started to correct the situation.

Technical violations were the subject of change in Rule 7-3-1 as well.

To avoid penalizing a participant twice for the same sequence of events, wording was added declaring that points will not be awarded to a wrestler whose opponent has fled the mat if that wrestler has already scored for a nearfall or takedown.

Under the new rule, a match will now automatically be stopped and restarted in the event a wrestler commits a fourth stalling violation.

Previously, if the offender was called for a fourth stall of the match while in the defensive or neutral position, there was no guarantee his or her opponent would be awarded choice of position through a restart if the violation occurred during the third period.

Hahn said shoes coming off and injury time are two rules that were changed but doesn’t think athletes will notice too much.

“Now if your shoe comes off you will be forced to use injury time and be given a technical violation,” Hahn said. “Wrestlers were already forced to secure their shoe laces or be given a stall warning. I really don’t see shoes coming off that often in matches.”

Based on the hair-length changes, which addresses unnecessary roughness, was edited to include “pulling an opponent’s hair” as an additional example of the offense.

Finally, a new article was added dealing with participant injuries. This rule has been designed to discourage wrestlers from requesting injury time from the official as an attempt to stop an opponent from scoring. If the referee determines a wrestler would have scored had the injury timeout not taken place, the injured contestant will be charged an injury timeout and applicable points will be awarded to the non-injured party.

Hahn said the new participant injury rule is designed to discourage wrestlers from asking for injury time to avoid being scored on. He said the new rule states that if a wrestler calls for injury during a scoring situation, the points will still be awarded to the scoring wrestler.

“I think the referees were already doing a good job with this in the past,” Hahn said. “I would actually like us to do what the NCAA does and award the wrestler not taking injury time choice of positions.”