The Michigan High School Athletic Association has revised its 2021 Wrestling Tournaments, scheduled for the final three weeks of March and first weekend of April, in an effort to reduce the mixing of communities and spread of COVID-19. The MHSAA also has selected Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo as this year’s host site for the Teams Finals on March 30 and Individual Finals to be wrestled April 2-3.
As in non-COVID seasons, the wrestling postseason will be divided into separate tournament tracks for teams and individuals, with competition at the District, Regional and Finals levels. Competition at the District and Regional levels for both the team and individual tournaments will follow the MHSAA’s traditional formats, which is possible due to the COVID-19 rapid testing required of each participating wrestler. Districts will be wrestled during the week of March 15, with Regionals the following week.
However, a number of changes for this season’s Finals have been put in place to provide the same experience for qualifying athletes but with more precautions to limit possible exposure to the virus.
Team Wrestling: Quarterfinals, Semifinals and Finals will be wrestled Tuesday, March 30 at Wings Event Center, with all rounds over one day instead of the traditional two. Two areas within Wings Event Center – the “Valley” and “Arena” – will host matches for Quarterfinals and Semifinals, with all four championship matches wrestled simultaneously in the Arena to conclude the event. Divisions 2 and 4 will compete in the Arena, and Divisions 1 and 3 in the Valley prior to the title matches.
Individual Wrestling: All rounds of the Individual Finals will be wrestled at Wings Event Center over the course of one day – Divisions 2 and 3 will compete Friday, April 2, and Divisions 1 and 4 will wrestle April 3. Both arenas within Wings Event Center will be used each day – one for each division – with all rounds including championship matches wrestled in that specific area. Divisions 3 and 1 will compete in the Arena, and Divisions 2 and 4 will compete in the Valley.
Determinations of which divisions were assigned to wrestle in Wings’ Arena and Valley were made by a blind draw conducted by the MHSAA in partnership with the executive board of the Michigan Wrestling Association, the statewide coaches association for the sport. Teams scheduled to wrestle in the Valley during the Team Quarterfinals and Semifinals automatically were selected to wrestle in the Arena for all rounds of the Individual Finals.
Spectator limits at Regionals and Finals will be determined locally following Michigan Department of Health and Human Services orders and will not exceed one per participant.
The Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association began examining several topics during its Fall Meeting, Dec. 1 in East Lansing – including start and end dates of the winter calendar, possible new transfer rule exceptions and emerging sports – that will shape its work during the winter and spring meetings of this 2023-24 school year.
Generally, the Council takes only a few actions during its Fall Meeting, with topics often introduced for additional consideration and action during its meetings in March and May. The Council did take three actions this time as part of larger conversations expected to continue over the next six months.
The Council joined staff discussion on the start and end dates of winter seasons and the possibility of moving up both, which was among topics surveyed as part of the Update Meeting poll completed by administrators during the MHSAA’s annual presentations across the state this fall. Staff will prepare a recommendation for Council to review at a future meeting regarding the 2025-26 school year and beyond.
MHSAA staff also provided a variety of transfer rule issues encountered over the last year, and Council discussed the possibility of adding transfer rule exceptions related to military transfer families, fulltime school employee transfers and students returning from a sports academy or prep school and seeking immediate eligibility. The Council did adopt a change for multi-high school districts (with at least three high schools) that include both boundary and non-boundary schools that more clearly defined where students at those schools have immediate eligibility.
The Council also discussed possible new and emerging sports, including proposals for MHSAA sponsorship received by the water polo and field hockey governing bodies and an anticipated proposal to add boys volleyball to the MHSAA Tournament lineup.
Several more conversations regarded MHSAA postseasons:
- The Council reviewed the work of the Football Task Force and considered a staff recommendation to have the Football Committee in January discuss possibly capping enrollment of Division 8 11-player schools at 250 students to incentivize schools within that group to play 11-player instead of switching to 8-player.
- MHSAA staff have identified four areas requiring financial increases – MHSAA Tournament officials fees, host schools compensations, manager honorariums and team reimbursements for Finals participants – and the Council discussed the importance of including these when the MHSAA Audit & Finance Committee meets in February to begin the 2024-25 budgetary process.
- The Council also discussed recommendations from the MHSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee addressing possible requirements of emergency action plans and AEDs at MHSAA Tournament sites.
The Fall Meeting saw the appointment of Wyoming Godfrey-Lee Schools superintendent Arnetta Thompson and Freeland Middle School principal Jennifer Thunberg to two-year terms to the 19-person Council, the first terms for both. The Council also reelected Scott Grimes, superintendent for Grand Haven Area Public Schools, as its president; Brighton High School athletic director John Thompson as its vice president, and Vic Michaels, director of physical education and athletics for the Archdiocese of Detroit, as secretary-treasurer.
The Representative Council is the legislative body of the MHSAA. All but five members are elected by member schools. Four members are appointed by the Council to facilitate representation of females and minorities, and the 19th position is occupied by the Superintendent of Public Instruction or designee.
The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.4 million spectators each year.