Friday, January 30, 2015

Wrestling: PointsGate goes 'old' school for sectionals

Out with the new and in with the old.

That is how we go to determine the power points for final seeding in this year's sectional tournaments. The NJSIAA released a statement on Friday saying the previous chart will be used instead of the controversial new version for 2014-15 after a vote by a 2-1 margin from the state's coaches.

On Wednesday, an email from New Jersey Coaches Association president Dan Smith was sent to all coaches with a request to vote for either the old or the new rankings chart by Friday's state imposed deadline. Region 1 voted 23-9 for the old chart among its 34 schools, while Region 6, according to the Asbury Park Press, came in at 25-7 for using the old chart among its 43 schools.

"Given this situation -- and along with our direct outreach to committee members -- we polled New Jersey's wrestling coaches and the regional presidents, who overwhelmingly recommend a return to the previous system," NJSIAA executive director Steve Timko said in the release.

Under the new chart, teams that were wrestling better competition were actually being penalized for doing so. The old chart was incorrectly being used for the first few weeks by points tabulator Larry McMillan. Both Smith and McMillan revealed in emails obtained by Open Mike that no test run was ever performed using the new system to see what the actual effects would be on the point totals.

Contrary to what one media outlet has been reporting in recent days, the points have been wrong for each week they've been made public. Both Smith and McMillan have confirmed that scores have been difficult to track down, making the numbers incorrect for a number of schools. The Trentonian's Rick Fortenbaugh also has said a number of the Mercer County schools' totals have been wrong from the get-go due to missing information on Track Wrestling.

The power points are used to determine the top six qualifying teams in each of the five public school groups in each of the four sections in North 1, North 2, Central Jersey and South Jersey, along with the two non-public school groups in the North and South.

Open Mike is the media outlet that first broke this story last week -- revealing that the power points were incorrect, Smith acknowledged an issue with Track Wrestling that was making it difficult for region ranking chairmen to find scores. The head coach at Watchung Hills also stated that the region presidents voted last spring to tweak the old chart.

The new table was voted on at the region presidents meeting last spring before being presented to the NJSIAA wrestling committee for another vote. Both committees voted to change the chart, which came about when coaches complained that teams were being rewarded too much for blowout losses vs. good competition.

"Thankfully, the problems with the new system were caught and the coaches committee and NJSIAA were able to work collaboratively to fix the problem before the start of this year's tournament," Timko said.

The seeding meeting is slated to be held on Thursday at NJSIAA headquarters. The sectional tournament cutoff is Wednesday, while the tournaments are to begin on Monday, Feb. 9. The group championships will be contested on Sunday, Feb. 15 at Sun National Bank Center in Trenton.

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