The Shore Conference Wrestling Tournament will undergo sweeping changes this upcoming season, changing formats for the first time since the tournament's inception 43 years ago.

The Shore Conference Executive Committee unanimously approved a proposal on Tuesday that changes the SCT from a team dual-meet tournament to an individual tournament, and the change begins starting with the 2017-2018 season. Shore Conference President-elect Rich Carroll emailed a copy of the proposal to Shore Sports Network.

The SCT began in 1975 as a dual-meet tournament and ran through this past season when Howell won the title via a 36-24 victory over Raritan. Within the last decade the tournament had grown stale, with the same teams frequently reaching the final four and several teams deciding to opt out of the tournament altogether. Over the past few seasons discussions took place among the Shore Conference Wrestling Committee about moving to an individual tournament, which almost all of New Jersey does for its county or conference tournaments.

The change finally came to fruition Tuesday. Now, the tournament will feature 24 wrestlers in each of the 14 weight classes. Wrestlers qualify for the SCT based on prestige points, which is the same criteria used to seed the 32 NJSIAA district tournaments. There will be a team champion crowned, as well.

The 2018 SCT will take place on Friday, Jan. 26 and Saturday, Jan. 27 at Red Bank Regional High School.

Teams may still opt out of the tournament. Also, any team that has at least one wrestler competing in the SCT cannot participate in other matches that weekend.

The SCT will be seeded based on prestige points on Tuesday, Jan. 23. The only way a wrestler can jump to a higher seed is based on a head-to-head win. Wrestlers cannot change weight classes after the lineup has been submitted. If a wrestlers withdraws or does not make weight, the respective bracket will not be reseeded and the opponent will receive a bye into the next round.

Wrestlers will compete until a top four is determined in each weight class. There will be no wrestlebacks, as the losers of the semifinal bouts will wrestle for third place. The preliminary-round bouts will only count toward the team score if the wrestlers secures a bonus-point victory (major decision, technical fall, fall).

The SCT will begin with the preliminary round and the round of 16 on Jan. 26. The weigh-ins and skin check will be from 3 to 4 p.m. The first two rounds will be wrestled on eight mats.

Weigh-ins and skin check for Saturday will be between 8 and 9 a.m. with wrestling to begin with the quarterfinals on four mats at 10 a.m. The semifinals are scheduled for 1 p.m. on two mats. The finals are scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on one mat, while the third-place bouts will be at the same time on a separate mat.

The idea of changing the SCT from a team tournament to an individual tournament has been floated for some time, but the Region 6 Tournament was essentially the Shore Conference Tournament. The door opened for the change since, starting last year, the Shore Conference was split from Region 6 with teams in Regions 5, 6, 7 and 8.


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