Christmas has special significance for Pennsylvania high school wrestlers this season.
All wrestlers receive a 2-pound weight allowance Tuesday. That's 21 days earlier than the previous weight-allowance date of Jan. 15.
"Christmas is a difficult time of the year to be worrying about your weight," Gateway coach R.J. Santilli said. "Moving the deadline to Dec. 25 takes away a lot of the pressure."
The rule was originally set up to give wrestlers who had a growth spurt in the first half of the season a 2-pound cushion, because cutting weight for an entire season can be dangerous.
"I don't like it," Valley coach Steve Ansani said. "We're making it a little too easy for the kids who struggle with weight issues. They will get used to having those 2 pounds a little earlier and struggle to keep their weight later in the season.
"I believe in the adage, if things aren't broken, then don't fix it. Everybody survived with the Jan. 15 deadline. Why change it?"
Here's the way it works: All wrestlers must compete at scratch weight for the first 18 days of the season. The 2-pound allowance kicks in Christmas Day.
That means a wrestler competing in the 120-pound weight class can weigh up to 122 pounds.
"I love it," South Side Beaver coach Jerry McCoy said. "It will make the Christmas tournaments better, because most of the kids will drop to the weight class they plan to wrestle at for the postseason."
Butler coach Scott Stoner also likes the change.
"I'm looking forward to getting the 2 pounds early," Stoner said. "I'm grateful that we don't have to wait. It's a move for the better."
Conversely, Hempfield coach Vince DeAugustine and Southmoreland coach Ryan Shaw are not happy with the change.
"It's supposed to be a growth allowance halfway through the season," DeAugustine said. "The new deadline is less than three weeks into the season. I don't see this as a positive move. I would rather have the deadline on Jan. 15."
"I can see the benefit of getting the 2 pounds on Christmas, but I think it's too early," Shaw said. "They should have stayed at Jan. 15."
Mt. Lebanon coach Bill Lewis has mixed feelings.
"The kids seem to like it because the holidays can prove to be a real challenge for them," Lewis said. "But now it's so early that I wonder why we even have a weight allowance."
West Mifflin coach Tony Salopek was wondering the same thing.
"We might as well make each weight class 2 pounds heavier if we are adding the 2 pounds this early," Salopek said.
"How much can a kid grow in three weeks. I don't think it's going to change anything."
Connellsville's Tom Dolde Jr. and Burgettstown coach Terry Havelka reached the 200-win plateau earlier this month. They are the 31st and 32nd coaches in WPIAL history to record 200 victories.
Dolde captured his 200th win with Connellsville's 65-9 victory Dec. 12 against Albert Gallatin. The Falcons are 4-0 and Dolde, in his 11th season, has a 202-45 carer record.
Havelka, in his 19th season, claimed victory No. 200 with a 66-9 domination of Fort Cherry, two days later. Burgettstown has a 4-0 record, which gives Havelka a 202-85 career record.
Canon-McMillan's Chris Mary, in his 13th season, is expected to be the next to join the 200-win club. Mary entered the season with a 194-44 record and the Big Macs are 3-0, which leaves him three wins short of 200.
Others who have reached, or are closing in on, a milestone are:
• Fox Chapel's Ron Frank needs two wins to reach 350. Frank is in his 31st season and has a 348-253-7 record.
• Butler's Scott Stoner has eclipsed the 250-win plateau. Stoner, in his 20th season, has a 251-128 record.
• Thomas Jefferson's Rudy Nesbitt needs two wins to reach 100. Nesbitt, who also coached at Central Catholic, has a 98-104 mark.
Wrestling fans will have a choice of tournaments this weekend, as 68 of the WPIAL's 84 teams are entered in holiday tournaments.
Kiski Area and North Allegheny are heading to the 43rd annual Manheim Holiday Classic, a 15-team tournament, which begins Thursday and concludes Friday.
The other four tournaments with WPIAL entries begin Friday and conclude Saturday.
The Powerade Christmas tournament at Canon-McMillan has its biggest field with 46 teams, including 19 from the WPIAL, and tournament favorite Blair Academy, the No. 1 team in the country.
West Mifflin's Steve DeAugustino Holiday Classic also has a record-high field with 30 teams, including 24 from the WPIAL and four from the City League.
Not to be outdone, the Southmoreland Holiday Classic also has its largest field with 33 teams, including 20 from the WPIAL.
Meanwhile, WPIAL members North Catholic, Indiana and West Shamokin will compete in the Redbank Valley tournament.