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BALL FIVE: Proof is in the pudding with wrestling seedings

The folks at the South Dakota High School Activities Association have spent a lot of hard hours trying to refine the seeding system for the state wrestling tournaments. This year they narrowed the seeding from the top 12 wrestlers to the top six. By the final results of the Class B Wrestling Tournament this weekend in Rapid City, they are getting things pretty darned close to where they want them.
There are 14 weight classes in South Dakota High School wrestling. The state tournament gives medals to the top eight finishers in each weight class. By my math that’s 112 wrestlers placing.
Of those 112 wrestlers who medaled on Saturday, all but 14 were seeded in the top eight. That’s a pretty good 87 percent. Not only that, of the 14 top eight seeds who did not place, 10 were eight seeds, one was a seven seed and three were six seeds. Of the 14 who stepped up and took their places, one was a 13 seed and two were 11 seeds. The others were, of course, nine and 10 seeds, meaning they had earned their seeding before the tourney started. Of those upset winners, the highest was a nine seed taking fourth place. Two low seeds or unseeds (hey look, I just invented a word) took sixth, five took seventh and six took eighth.
One thing that tells you is the best wrestlers aren’t wrestling each other too soon in the tournament. The state wrestling tournament is supposed to be a place where only the strong survive, but in the old days there were too many times when the strong were taking each other out on day one and the strongest were getting stuck on the same half of the bracket.
Now, were one or two of those kids who came up the ranks to medal missed in the seeding process? Maybe, but you can bet a couple of them simply rose to the occasion and there were also a couple of higher seeded kids who shrank under the pressure. The human element will always be therer and cannot be figured into analytics.
It still isn’t perfect, very little in the world of sports is, but the SDHSAA needs to be commended for their efforts in refining their state tournament seeding process.