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The State of Freestyle Wrestling

Watching the series between Mike Zadick and Nate Gallick Thursday afternoon for the 132-pound spot on the U.S. World Team got me thinking about a few issues about the state of freestyle wrestling.

First of all, the current set of rules were implemented by FILA in 2005 with the idea that they would encourage more action and help bring freestyle wrestling closer to the mainstream. But it's seemingly becoming more and more clear each year that just the opposite is happening. Zadick and Gallick wrestled six periods Thursday and four wound up decided by the leg-clinch after two minutes ticked away without a point.

Far too often now with the current rules, wrestlers score a point early in a period and get defensive. The push-out rule designed to keep wrestlers in the middle of the mat has eliminated some finishing holds because it's simpler to shove a guy out of bounds for a point. And the scoring system in freestyle is just too confusing for casual fans.

FILA needs to take a look at the Zadick-Gallick series to see what's right and wrong with the sport now. The final 25 seconds of the third period in first match was filled with incredible action, drama and the kind of stuff that will catch the attention of fringe fans. In fact, there was more scoring and action in those 25 seconds than the other 11:35 combined prior to the leg-clinches. It's time for FILA to rewrite the rule book again.

It's also time for USA Wrestling to do away with allowing the reigning U.S. National champ to push back the best-of-three series like Gallick did. Nothing against Gallick and his decision to ask for an extension after suffering a foot injury prior to the World Team Trials in June. But it would've been better exposure for the sport to have the U.S. Open champion wrestling the 2006 World silver medalist in front of bigger crowds in Las Vegas when ESPN's cameras were filming than in front of a couple hundred people at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

Besides, the defending NCAA champion can't push the NCAA meet back if he's hurt. The BCS championship game isn't going to get delayed if the No. 1 team in the country's quarterback gets hurt in the final regular season game. And the World Series won't get pushed back if the ace of one team comes up with a sore arm.


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