The state high school wrestling tournament opens in Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Wednesday with a brand new format. The opening day will feature the state dual team tournament and the traditional tournament begins on Thursday.

Since 1994, the dual team tournament had been held a week after the traditional tournament. Alan Beste of the Iowa High School Athletic Association says the move was made to bring more attention to the dual team tournament at the state and local level. He says there has been a concern nationwide that there was less emphasis on the dual team.

“The individual tournament will always be what individual athletes aspire to, but we also know there are students out there who wrestle who probably don’t have the opportunity to compete in the state individual tournament or win a championship in the state individual tournament, but they can contribute to their team winning a championship,” Beste says. “That’s our goal to try and put more emphasis on that, and this is one way that we can do it.”

With the new format Beste says there are a lot of things they will be looking at to see if any changes need to be made in the future. He says the timing of when the dual tournaments are held are all on the table. Beste says education has to come first and that’s part of the reason they put the dual tournament on Wednesday, because fewer teams compete in the dual tournament.

Beste says Wednesday’s format will include action on eight mats with the 3A and 2A quarterfinals, then the 1A quarterfinals and consolation rounds begin. The semifinals begin at 1 p.m. and then the championships begin at 7 p.m.

One thing that won’t change. Saturday night’s championship session will be as tough of a ticket as there is in the state. “It’s the only reserved seat ticket event that we have out of any of our championships, boys or girls,” Beste says.