What Caused the Massive Drop in West Coast Qualifiers to the NCAA Wrestling Tournament?

The chart below depicts the total number of qualifiers for the NCAA wrestling championship tournament from 16 states from the years 1998 to 2000 and the years 2012 to 2014. Those 16 states sent the highest number of total qualifiers during all 6 years.

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Firstly: yes, Pennsylvania is positively overflowing with talented grapplers. Secondly, way to go Michigan and Missouri! Might have Ben Askren and Nick Simmons sparked a revolution? Thirdly, what’s up with the west coast?

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California and Oregon both took nose dives. California lost more than half their competitors and Oregon’s contingent was decimated (almost literally!). I went back to check on Washington to see if all 3 contiguous Pacific states saw a drop, but the Evergreen State saw their number of qualifiers go up from 13 to 20.

Other theories? Two significant things that I can think of that happened during the interim in the data that may have affected the Californians and Oregonians: 1) the allocation system has evolved and 2) five D1 programs in CA and OR have been shut down – UC Davis, Fresno State, Cal State Fullerton, Portland State and Oregon are all no more.

The shuttered programs might mean that the top caliber Californian and Oregonian wrestlers are either finding non D1 schools to compete in or are just stop competing completely. And if you assume that the current allocation does a better job of identifying the best 33 D1 wrestlers than the one in place in ’99-’00, then the implication is that the top caliber wrestlers were never in California and Oregon to begin with and that the old system favored those now shuttered programs. I don’t have insight into wrestling scene on the left side of the continent, so I can’t say confidently exactly what is happening. Could also just be that we’re in the midst of a down cycle and we should expect both territories to rebound in the future. And I’d love to hear from anyone that has other theories or ideas!

Quick caveat – I am fallible and a few errors may have snuck into the data. I don’t believe they would be large enough to make much of a difference, though.

Smaller graph for forum posting:

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