Trying to recruit wrestlers to the mat is not always an easy task for coaches. There are athletes that simply do not want to wear the singlet uniform in practice or competition.
Now, the state is attempting to ease the process by allowing new two-piece uniforms.
In May, the National Federation of State High School Association approved a new rule allowing for wrestlers to wear an alternate, two-piece uniform composed of a compression shirt and fight shorts.
Massachusetts adopted the rule, starting with the 2017-18 season, and wrestlers are making the switch.
Fans will see a mix of singlets and two-piece ensembles at meets, and coaches hope they will see more wrestlers come out for teams with the change.
Lincoln-Sudbury coach Nick Avery has heard a lot of conversation about the new uniforms, as well as enthusiasm and excitement from his athletes.
“It’s definitely a hot topic,” Avery said. “My opinion on it is I’m going to go and wait and see how the kids buy in, if it’s a huge buy in by the kids. I know a couple of our kids are already really excited to get their pair.”
Avery, who wore the singlet as a wrestler, said that many coaches and wrestlers will have to get used change and fully embrace the sport’s new look.
“If it’s a buy-in around the country, that’s something we have to adapt and get used to,” Avery said. “I think it would be not the smartest thing to stick to our ways.
“Was I used to a singlet? Yeah, I wore spandex every day in practice, that’s just what I did. I’m completely ready to change if that’s where the tide is turning.”
However, a few are still staying old-school.
“My kids don’t like them,” Melrose coach James Bleiler said. “I think if you’re going to wrestle, it’s a hard sport with hard work, and that’s why kids don’t do it. Because it’s tough.
“Would it maybe grab one or two kids with the new uniform? Maybe. But the guys that wrestle, and have been wrestling, don’t like them.”
Sean Herbert, who wrestles at 138 pounds for the Red Raiders, is one of those that isn’t a huge fan of the new uniforms. He said his experience with the two-piece wasn’t something he enjoyed.
“Personally, I like the singlet better. . . . I don’t know, I just feel more tight and faster. The fight shorts, we wrestled with them at an All-Star match, they were a little baggy,” he said. “The Dri-Fit shirts were good, but the baggy shorts I wasn’t a big fan of.”
In the end, Avery said that the biggest reason for the change comes down to roster numbers. With the new uniforms, coaches are hoping to see more kids try out for the sport, and have increased participation and full lineups on the mat.
“If it’s one less thing when you’re trying to get a kid to come out, that they can point to saying, ‘I don’t really want to do it because I don’t want to wear that.’ You don’t have to now,” Avery said. “We have a T-shirt and fight shorts that you can put on, and let’s go out there and scrap. We’re just looking for guys that want to compete.”
■ Walpole (9-0) kept rolling with four wins last Saturday, defeating Marlborough (54-24), Milford (60-18), Central Catholic (36-35), and Dracut (48-24). The victories pushed fourth-year coach Sean Petrosino past 100 career wins. He is 102-29 overall, including 59 at Walpole and the rest at Plymouth South, his alma mater.
■ Franklin had an impressive Saturday at the Natick Dual Meet Tournament, recording victories over Concord-Carlisle (73-6), Merrimack, N.H. (62-12), Brookline (47-13), Hopkinton (72-9), and the host Redhawks (69-3).
Wrestlers of the Week
■ Phil Dure, Foxborough — He was the Warriors’ only individual champion (126 pounds) at the Chelmsford Tournament last Saturday, helping Foxborough place fifth overall.
■ Ryan Higgins, Billerica — The 220-pounder senior took home a Chelmsford Tournament title.
■ Dylan MacKinnon, Burlington — The senior recorded a 32-second pin at 182 pounds in the Red Devils’ win over Watertown and then went 3-1 at the Chelmsford Tournament on his way to a third-place finish.
■ Cody Sughrue, Shawsheen — The senior (152 pounds) earned his 100th win for the Rams on Saturday at the team’s quad meet at West Springfield.
■ Ethan Smith, North Attleborough — The 106-pounder recorded three pins in his four wins at his team’s super quad meet. The Rocketeers went 4-0 at the meet.
Matches to watch
■ Saturday, Woburn Tournament — The Tanners will host wrestlers from around the state, including Chelmsford, Andover, Lincoln-Sudbury, Tewksbury, and Lowell for an individual tournament.
■ Wednesday, North Andover at Central Catholic —The Scarlet Knights (7-4) head to Lawrence to take on the Raiders (6-2) in a huge dual with big Merrimack Valley Conference implications.
■ Wednesday, Tewksbury at Chelmsford — The Redmen travel to take on the perennial Merrimack Valley Conference powerhouse Lions (9-1).
■ Wednesday, Westford Academy at Lincoln-Sudbury — L-S (11-3) hopes to keep its successful dual-meet record intact, hosting its Dual County League rival.
■ Thursday, Woburn at Burlington — The Red Devils (4-5-1) will hold their alumni night as they host the Tanners in a Middlesex League matchup.David Austin Bumpus can be reached at email@example.com.