Illinois Matmen Blogs: Mr. Twister

Changes come and go at state



Posted by Mr. Twister on February 22, 2014
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As I sit here at the state tournament for the 15th straight year I began to think of how much has changed. And why.

Of course the biggest change is from the two class system to the three class system. More wrestlers and more days in Champaign equals more state champions. For years prior to the change, there was much internet debate on if there should be a change and what effects it would have on the sport as we knew it then. I guess it is safe to say we know those answers. But just in case let me point out what I have heard, AA is watered down, AAA is like the old AA and A is still the same. Most fans hate the additional day of hotel rooms and days off of work but deal with it to see their kid wrestle in the dome. It does seem that most people have accepted the change and many that are now involved with the sport at the high school level were not back in 1999.

Speaking of 15 years ago there was a heavy dominance of private school winners on championship night. Along with that winning came tons of complaints from public school fans, while the complaining about the perceived winning and advantages that private schools have winning by the public schools have has increased by a lot. Especially at the dual team state tournament.

Of course the more things change the more they stay the same. There has not been much change in Assembly Hall other than it is now called State Farm Center. There is some outside construction going on but for wrestling purposes The Dome as it is affectionally know to the wrestling community has not changed on the inside. The 6 orange mats are there as they have always been.

The names of the Powerhouse programs have changed a bit. The top teams back in 2000 were Providence, Mt. Carmel, Glenbard North, Montini, Waukeghan, Oregon, Vandalia, Clinton, Sandwich and Mahomet-Seymor. Flash forward to today and the new powerhouses are Marmion, Oak Park-River Forest, Montini, Sandburg, Leroy, Marist, Minooka, Fairbery, Sterling, Dakota, Washington and Lockport.

I vividly remember the elderly workers of Assembly Hall that seemed to really irritate the general public anytime you was in the wrong area standing or in the wrong seat. Seems like this year they are no longer at The Dome and the fan base is happier.

As I think about this even more deeper, even illinoismatmen is different. What started out as just a casual website for the Illinois wrestling community has now morphed into the place to go for all things related to Illinois wrestling. Back in 2000 im.com had no visible presence at the state tournament but somewhere around 2005 we began to post message board high lights of the matches, then started broadcasting the semis and finals filling the void left when Sports Channel pulled out of showing the matches. Then im.com hooked up with IHSA.tv to really begin producing quality live viewing of all of the matches. Named the National Wrestling Website of the Year in 2008, this year im.com, IHSA.tv and Comcast Sports Net are bringing the finals to regular t.v. on tape rebroadcast as well as the regular live broadcast. Viewing the state finals from your home without a doubt has undergone a very big change.

Even something as simple as the singlets have changed. The polyester singlet short leg with the sewn on letters is now replaced with the nicely designed sub laminated longer leg ones. From a style perspective today's wrestlers look a lot fancier.

The fans on championship night have always been a special part of the state finals aura. In the past there was the dropping of the lights and the lighting of glow sticks, and the throwing of the same glow sticks onto the mats. Eventually the beach balls appeared started bouncing around the crowd. Just last year Assembly Hall security tried to curtail that activity.

What has never changed is the quality of the wrestling. Illinois has always been a good wrestling state and somewhere between 2005 and 2010 we became a top four state. Although the names have changed and even the teams have changed the results have improved or gotten better, not worse. Sure there are great victories and upsets but the quality can't be denied.

If you have never been to the IHSA state finals then it is probably time for you to start. This is the Mecca of the wrestling community during the third weekend in February. Once I came 15 years ago I was locked in and you will be too.


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