Illinois high school wrestling is governed by the Illinois High School Association.  The governing body of the IHSA is the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).  Please note that this page is dedicated to explaining Folkstyle wrestling rules only.  Folkstyle is the style that OPRF wrestles during their winter season.  Greco-Roman and Freestyle wrestling are very popular styles, but they are typically wrestled during the spring and summer.  For more information on Greco-Roman and Freestyle wrestling, visit TheMat.com, USA Wrestling's official site.

Web Resources:

The Basics:
A wrestling match consists of three (3) two-minute periods.  The clock runs continuously except for referee stoppages.  The goal is to pin or score more points than your opponent at the end of the match.  If the match is tied at the end of regulation, overtime will follow.  Overtime can consist of up to an additional two and one-half minutes of wrestling.  Each match will produce a winner.  There are no ties in wrestling.

The Weight Classes:

In Varsity competitions, there are fourteen (14) weight classes.  Each team has a right to submit one wrestler per each weight class for the competition.  Teams cannot submit more than one wrestler per each weight.  In order to qualify for a specific weight class, the wrestler must weigh at or under the designated pound weight.  In some cases, allowances are given to athletes.  (For example, if the maximum weight allowed is 132 pounds, an applied one pound allowance means that a wrestler can successfully meet the weight requirement if he/she weighs 133.0 pounds at maximum.)  One pound or two pound allowances are the most common levels of allowances, if authorized by the governing body.
In Varsity competitions, the fourteen (14) weight classes, in pounds, are: 106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 182, 195, 220, and 285.
In dual events, a blind draw is held before the matchup.  The weight that was drawn will be the starting weight class for the dual, and the dual will proceed in sequential order until all fourteen (14) bouts are completed.  For example, the pre-dual blind draw results in a starting weight class of 220 pounds. In this case, the sequence of bouts will be 220, 285, 106, 113, and so on through the concluding weight class of 195 pounds.
In individual tournament events, it is customary that each round begins from the lowest weight to the heaviest weight.  Some individual tournaments have begun to perform a blind draw for the starting weight of the championship (gold medal) round.
How to Win:
As we mentioned in The Basics, a wrestler must defeat his opponent via pinfall or points.  Alternatively, a wrestler can win if his opponent is disqualified or defaults out of a match.  A pin (or fall) takes place when a wrestler puts the opponent on his/her back with any part of both shoulders or shoulder blades in contact with the mat for two seconds.  The match immediately ends upon pinfall.  Regardless of score, the bout match is recorded simply as "Fall", along with a time of fall.  A pinfall can occur by either wrestler regardless of score.  A wrestler can trail by ten points in a match, for example, and still pin the opponent.  This wrestler would then be declared the winner of the match.

If there is no pin, the wrestler who scores more points by the end of the match is declared the winner.  If one wrestler leads his opponent  by 15 or more points at any time during the match, the referee will stop the match and award the victory to the leading wrestler.  This is called a technical fall.  A technical fall can take place at any time during a match.

In cases of a wrestler match disqualification or default, his opponent is also declared the winner.  In the case of a forfeit, the reporting wrestler will earn a victory.  When neither team offers a wrestler to compete, the match is termed as a double forfeit.  There is no match and no winner.

How to Score:
Takedown (2 points) - A wrestler scores two points for taking the opponent down to the mat and then gaining control.

Escape (1 point) - After a wrestler gains control, the opponent may escape out from the bottom to a neutral (both standing) position.

Reversal (2 points) - When the bottom wrestler (the wrestler who is being controlled) reverses control and gains control over the opponent, it is considered a reversal.

Near Fall (2 or 3 points) - Near fall points are also known as back points.   Near fall points are awarded when a wrestler gains control over the opponent and puts the opponent on his/her back.  The controlling wrestler must expose the bottom wrestler's back for at least two seconds to score points.  The controlling wrestler (wrestler on top) is awarded two points for exposing the opponent's back for two, three, or four seconds.  The controlling wrestler is awarded three points for exposing the opponent's back for five or more seconds.

Penalty Points (1 or 2 points) - Referees can award penalty points to the opponent of wrestlers who commit illegal holds, technical violations, unnecessary roughness, unsportsmanlike conduct, and stalling.  Earning three or more cautions awards penalty points to the opponent.  In addition, a referee can stop a match and award a victory if the referee ejects a wrestler from the match due to flagrant misconduct.

For another online source about ways to score, go to here.

The Match:
First Period - The match consists of three (3) two-minute periods.  At the beginning of the first period, both wrestlers start in the neutral position.  This means that both are standing, and neither wrestler is in control of the other one.

Second Period - For the second and third periods, the two wrestlers alternate with a preference of starting position.  In tournament play, the referee flips a green and red disk that determines which wrestler has the right to choose the starting position for the second period.  In dual meets, the wrestlers with first choice are predetermined and alternate every weight class.  (For example, team A has the right of choice in the 106 pound match, and team B has the right of choice in the 113 pound match, etc.)  The wrestler that earns first choice must choose between the following options: beginning the second period in control (on top), under control (on bottom), without control (standing/neutral), or defer (giving the choice to the opponent, thus saving the choice for the beginning of the third period).  Since wrestlers earn one point for an escape, many wrestlers choose the "down" position with the hope of escaping from their opponent and scoring a point.

Third Period - The wrestler who did not make the choice at the beginning of the second period chooses at the beginning of the third.  This wrestler can choose top, bottom, or neutral (standing) only.  Since the third period is the last period of regulation, it is not possible to defer.

First Overtime (if necessary) - If the match is tied at the end of the third period, overtime will be needed to resolve the match.  There are no ties.  At the beginning of the first overtime, both wrestlers will begin in the neutral (standing) position.  They will wrestle with one minute on the clock.  The winning wrestler will be the wrestler who gains the first point (or pinfall).  The bout ends immediately at this point.  This is called sudden victory.  In cases where a takedown immediately exposes the opponent's back, the referee will wait to see if the wrestler can secure a fall before declaring him the winner.

Second Overtime (if necessary) - If neither wrestler scores a point in the first overtime, then a second overtime is needed.  Second overtime consists of two 30-second periods.  These periods are mandatory and must be wrestled (unless a wrestler wins the match via pinfall, disqualification, or default).  The second overtime does not take place under sudden victory rules.  The referee tosses the disk and awards first choice to one of the wrestlers.  This wrestler must choose top, bottom, or defer.  Neutral cannot be chosen.  The first 30-second period will take place under the chosen starting position.  Points may or may not be scored.  Regardless of points scored, there will be a second 30-second period.  In the second 30-second period, the other wrestler must choose top or bottom.  Again, the 30-second period will be wrestled to its conclusion regardless of points scored (unless a pinfall, disqualification, or default takes place).  The wrestler who has more points at the end of both 30-second periods is declared the winner.

Third Overtime (if necessary) - If the score is tied after the second overtime, then the third, and final, overtime is needed.  The wrestler that scored the first point in the match gets to make the choice of starting position.  The wrestler can choose top or bottom.  The wrestler that scores the first point during the 30-second period will be declared the winner (for example, the top wrestler earns near fall points or the bottom wrestler earns an escape).  If there is no scoring during the 30-second period, then the top wrestler will be declared the winner. In this case, the referee will award the top wrestler one point and the victory.

Starting and Stopping During the Match - Throughout all three periods (and any overtime periods if necessary), the clock starts and stops on the referee's whistle only.  The referee can stop the match to award penalty points, declare a stalemate (when both wrestlers are "stuck", and neither wrestler can improve position), declare a potentially dangerous situation, allow for injury time (up to one and a-half minutes per wrestler per match), allow for blood time (up to five minutes per wrestler per match), or declare a pinfall or technical fall.

Restarting the Match -  If the referee blows the whistle to stop wrestling action when one wrestler is in control of the other, the wrestlers will restart the match in the same fashion.  Likewise, if action stops with neither wrestler in control, then both wrestlers will restart in the neutral/standing position. If wrestling stops due to the end of a period, then the referee will follow the wrestler choice sequence to decide the position for restarting the match.

Dual Meet Scoring:
A dual meet takes place when one team wrestles against another team for all of the weight classes.  There are fourteen (14) weight classes in the Varsity level of competition.  How each match was won determines the points that each team earns in the team score.  Here is a list of the scoring:
  • Fall, Forfeit, Default, or Disqualification (6 team points)
  • Technical Fall (5 team points) - Winning the match by 15+ points.
  • Major Decision (4 team points) - Winning the match by 8-14 points.
  • Regular Decision (3 team points) - Winning the match by 1-7 points.
  • Double Forfeit (0 team points) - A vacant weight class for both teams.
  • Team Point Penalty (-1 team point) - Unsportsmanlike penalty against team.

Fall = pin;  Forfeit = no opponent;  Default = can't continue;  Disqualification = ejection

After all fourteen matches are wrestled, the team that has accumulated the most team points wins the dual meet.  In the event of a tie, a tie-breaker criteria will be used.

Click here for team tie-breaker criteria.

Tournament Scoring:
Occasionally, teams enter tournaments consisting of many teams.  Wresters compete to advance in a bracket with competitors in their own weight class.  Team scores are also tallied, but they are scored using a different system than the dual meet scoring mentioned above.  For a detailed explanation of tournament scoring, click here (and then scroll down).
Dual Team Tournament Scoring:
Often, teams will compete in a dual team tournament.  In a tournament of this style, teams wrestle duals against other teams.  Normal dual rules apply to decide the winner of the matchup.  Dual team tournaments can be bracketed tournaments, round robin tournaments, or a combination of both.  One famous dual team tournament is The Clash, hosted annually in Rochester, Minnesota. Visit The Clash to learn more about this tournament and about how dual team tournaments can be run.

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