After the 2013 season the Maine Principals’ Association scrapped regional tournaments for Class C wrestlers.

Now the whole class will be eliminated and wrestling will consist of Class A and Class B. Class A will be schools with 575 or more students.

“The intent is that we’ll have more schools with full teams,” said Gerry Durgin, the MPA’s representative on the Wrestling Committee. “Then when we get to the regional tournaments, we’ll be able to fill all of the brackets.”

The move to two classes has been much discussed over several years. It was recommended by the MPA Wrestling Committee last November. If there was any doubt, seeing only two of the 14 weight classes with full eight-man brackets at the Class C state tournament helped convince the classification committee and interscholastic management committee to be in full agreement.

The proposal must be ratified during the annual Interscholastic Business Meeting on April 30 in Rockland.

Over the past four years Brian Salsbury has developed one of the top teams in Class C at Dexter High, which was the runner-up to Dirigo this season.

“I agree that the competition in Class C isn’t strong enough,” Salsbury said. “To drive two hours for a dual meet to get in six matches if you’re lucky is a waste of our resources. But there needs to be a plan moving forward. Short-term it might make it a little worse. Teams with four, five, six kids won’t be able to compete and might fold.”

Durgin and Marshwood Athletic Director Rich Buzzell, a member of the wrestling committee, believe a key Classification Committee proposal could actually increase the number of teams – or at least create more competitive teams.

The Classification Committee has proposed all sports be allowed to field cooperative teams consisting of athletes from two or more schools. Currently wrestling and other sports with individual titles are designated cooperative individual sports. A team can support an affiliated athlete from a different school with training and competition opportunities but the “individual” still represents his or her home school.

Durgin said the impetus for changing the cooperative team rules came from the wrestling committee.

“There are schools out there with the equipment but not enough kids to have a team,” Buzzell said. “I’ll bet there will be smaller Class C schools getting together to form a cooperative team.”

Buzzell added, “I don’t think we’ll lose programs. I think there will be a greater possibility to gain programs.”

Since being sanctioned as a sport in 1959, wrestling has been separated into one, two and three classes.

After a short-lived three-class experiment in 1968 and 1969, wrestling reverted to two classes, switched to one class from 1973-79, then back to two through 1989. Since then separate individual and team champions have been decided in three classes.

In addition to Class C programs moving up to compete with solid established programs like defending Class B champ Ellsworth and Mountain Valley, several strong Class B teams will now be in Class A under the proposed realignment.

York and Gardiner will move into the new Class A South. Camden Hills, which has won 10 Class B titles since 2001, and Morse will be in Class A North.

York Coach Bryan Thompson agrees with the proposal. In an email he wrote, “Overall, it’s good for the sport in Maine, given the number of teams without complete lineups or low numbers, particularly in Class B and C.”

Thompson noted his team already wrestles many of Class A’s best in dual meets and tournaments so the move is “not that big a transition for us. It does put us at a distinct disadvantage in terms of being able to win a regional or state championship.”

Thompson added that the ability to “co-op” with other towns is a “big step.”

Noble Coach Kip DeVoll, who just finished serving as the coaches’ liaison to the wrestling committee, said the move to two classes is long overdue.

“I’ve been advocating to go to one or two classes for a long time,” DeVoll said. “It’s just been watered down so much for so long and then you go to a state tournament and it’s not even a full bracket. I think it’s going to help the sport.”