Major Realignment Coming to NJSIAA Wrestling Districts and Regions
New Jersey’s district and region groupings for wrestling just got thrown into the blender.
Wrestling coaches around the state, and especially in the Shore Conference, have been lobbying for district and region realignment for a some time, and a proposal submitted to the NJSIAA on Thursday would do just that in radically overhauling the first two tournaments of the individual postseason.
NJ Advance Media reported that a proposal was submitted to the NJSIAA League and Conference committee Thursday morning that would drastically rearrange the state’s 32 districts and eight regions to better distribute the power and even out the number of teams statewide. If the proposal passes the League and Conference committee it would go before the NJSIAA Finance Committee and ultimately the Executive Committee on September 14. If it passes there it will be implemented for the upcoming 2016-2017 season.
This potential and probable realignment will put an end to the all-Shore Conference Region VI with teams being spread throughout Regions V, VI, VII and VIII. Since 1992, Region VI has been entirely comprised of teams in Monmouth and Ocean counties.
According to the report, Keansburg, Middletown North, Middletown South, Keyport, Red Bank, Rumson-Fair Haven, Marlboro, St. John Vianney, Raritan, Matawan and Holmdel will move to Region VI, which includes Districts 17-20.
Remaining in Region VI will be Brick Memorial, Point Boro, Manalapan, Colts Neck, Howell, Jackson Liberty, Neptune, St. Rose, Long Branch, Wall, Point Beach, Freehold, Lakewood, Manasquan, Asbury Park, Christian Brothers Academy, Red Bank Catholic, Shore, Freehold Township and Ocean. The Districts here remain 21 through 24.
Shifting to Region VII will be Jackson Memorial, Donovan Catholic, Manchester, Toms River East, Toms River North, Toms River South, Brick, Central and Lacey in Districts 25 to 28.
Barnegat, Southern and Pinelands would head to Region VIII and be in District 32, 28 and 31, respectively.
Shore Conference coaches were at the forefront of the push for change since they felt Region VI was leaving too many state-caliber wrestlers at home because of the amount of teams and depth of talent in the area. Region VI had the most teams (44) and most district participants (541) of any of the state’s eight regions. Region I, for example, had just 34 teams and 405 district participants. Under the proposal, each region will have 39 teams, except for Region II, which will have 38.
The wild game of musical chairs has 23 teams moving out of Region IV, 28 teams exiting Region III and 20 being jettisoned from Region II. Region I has 16 teams leaving, Region V with 15 and Region VI has 21 - roughly half - of its teams finding a new home. There are 14 teams leaving Region VII and just five moving out of Region VIII. Also under the proposal there will be no more than four non-public teams in any region.
Other high-profile changes around the state include Phillipsburg moving from Region I to Region III, Paulsboro moving from Region VIII to Region VII, South Plainfield from Region III to Region IV and Don Bosco Prep and St. Joseph (Montvale) going from Region II to Region I.
With many schools that have traditionally hosted a district tournament now in different regions, there will also be plenty of changes to those sites. Pine Belt Arena on the campus of Toms River North has hosted the Region VI Tournament for several years, but with all three Toms River schools moving to Region VII it seems likely PBA would now host that region tournament, and possibly the District 28 Tournament. Because of that, Region VI will need a new home for its tournament. One candidate is Robbinsville, which hosted Region VII and will move to Region VI. Brick Memorial has hosted the Region VI Tournament in the past, as well.
The report said the committee used data on the number of state medals won and the average power-point number for every region over the last five seasons, plus the number of teams ranked in the final New Jersey Wrestling Coaches Association Top 25, to determine the collective strength of each region. The NJSIAA also used its northing numbering system to place teams in each district.
Public schools teams were placed North to South and Non-Public teams were placed South to North, according to the report.
Included in the proposal is the ability to re-evaluate the alignment every year and make changes as necessary to retain competitive balance, similar to how the Shore Conference handles both its general and sport-specific divisional alignment.
There is still a chance for more change to the individual postseason in September, as the NJSIAA Executive Committee will also vote on expanding the number of state qualifiers from the region tournaments. Currently the top three finishers in each weight class at the region tournaments advance to the state tournament, and a separate proposal would increase that to four wrestlers at each weight.
Wrestling editor Bob Badders can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.