I've received several emails asking one or both of the following questions:
* What do you base the rankings on?
* How does a wrestler get to be on the rankings?
I'll start by answering the first, which indirectly answers the second and then will expand on the second.
To really answer this question, I have to tell you the starting point for each new seasons rankings. The starting point for each seasons initial rankings comes the day after the previous seasons state tournament. I take the end of year rankings, which are how things fall exactly at the state tournament (a champion is first, runner-up second, etc., all the way down to the wrestlers that go 0-2 who get listed as HM's), and remove the seniors. I then pull up the regional results and, until I get to at least 10 kids per weight by adding in the returning kids who advanced the farthest in the regional tournaments(for example, starting with the kids who lost in the consolation semifinals, then the consolation quarterfinals, etc.). If there's not a returning wrestler in that weight that won at least two matches in the regional I pull up a spreadsheet I keep of kids who made states the previous year (meaning two years before the season I'm doing the initial rankings for) but did not make it for whatever reason the season that just ended.
What I have then is the starting point for the next season, however this isn't necessarily the rankings that are posted at the start of the next season. I then take into account the major folk style tournaments across the country over the spring, summer, and pre-season. These include Flonationals, the NHSCA Nationals in Virginia Beach, The Super 32, and the Ohio Tournament of Champions for example. These rankings are for Folk style, which is the style used in the high school and college seasons, so I do NOT take into account results at Freestyle and Greco Roman tournaments. I also do NOT take into account the vast majority of the local off-season tournaments for several reasons (different rules & timing, non-professional referees, some kids cut for off-season tournaments while others don't, etc.).
One exception to this local off-season tournament rule will be Southside Showdown 1 IF, as has been discussed by Coach Atwood, it features a "tournament of champions" style event featuring the state champions from each division.
After taking all that into account, I have what goes into the season as the initial rankings. Then the fun of weight changes, schools changing classifications, kids transferring from one school to another, and all the other miscellaneous stuff starts. All before a match is even wrestled.
Once matches start I take into account:
1. Head-to-head matches (especially against returning state place-winners and top ranked wrestlers)
2. Results versus common opponents (if no head-to-head)
3. Level of competition
Let me clarify a potential misunderstanding. By prior state place-winners, I mean the previous year. I'm sorry, but placing one year only carries you so far. For instance, a freshman who places at 106 three years ago and hasn't placed again at states as he's grown and is now wrestling 132, isn't going to be given the same consideration as someone who placed sixth the previous year at 126 and is also at 132.
I'm sure someone out there is saying, "but what about a kids record?", so let me address that. Impressive records are great. They can get you seeded very high at regionals, but they cannot get you ranked unless you have some quality in it. For instance, I've received several emails lately asking about a specific wrestler who has a very impressive record. So I went to the NWCA HS Scorebook and looked the wrestler up. He has a very impressive record with a .923 winning percentage in over 20 matches. However, his losses were also to the only two wrestlers he has faced with winning records. This is what I mean when I say level of competition. That wrestler may be a state place-winner come March, but as of now there's no wins on his record that justify a spot in the rankings. While I don't hold a wrestlers schedule against them since they have no control over it, if they don't have matches against solid competition I have no true basis of how good they really are.
Keep in mind, different people will interpret the same result differently. For this reason, I can't justify a "close" loss as a reason for ranking someone. Meaning, if I wrestled Jacob Grigg and he beat me 5-3, I can't justify ranking myself based on that loss being "close".
Now, the second question. A wrestler gets a spot in the rankings by his results and the only guaranteed way for me to see those results are for parents, coaches, wrestlers, teammates, and fans to send them to me. I know someone out there is thinking "but every result is suppose to be on the NWCA HS scorebook", and that's true, they are. But did you realize there's 326 NCHSAA schools with wrestling teams? There simply isn't enough time to look through the NWCA HS Scorebook of 326 schools every week for results. I do see a fair number of results on the scorebook and forum, but unless you send results to me there's no guarantee I'll see them.
Also, if a kid catches your eye as someone for me to keep an eye on, send me an email about that as well. Basically what I'm saying is, email me about any kid that you think is deserving of me at least looking into as it's just not possible for me to see every result on my own.
One other thing to note, is there are some coaches that have asked me not to rank their wrestlers. Their reasoning most of the time is to keep their wrestlers hungry or are scared it will go to their wrestlers head. If I'm asked this, I honor this request.