Home NCAA Tournament A Short History of Regions in DIII Wrestling

A Short History of Regions in DIII Wrestling

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2025 Regional Proposal sent to coaches – yellow pins are schools that should be competing in 2026

Prior to 2013, qualification for the NCAA DIII wrestling championships happened at the conference level. Each qualifying tournament was allocated a number of qualifiers based on a formula that included the size of the event (teams and wrestlers) and the performance of the qualifiers from that tournament in the most recent NCAA tournaments. For events with 11-20 qualifiers, the winner of each weight qualified automatically and the coaches selected the others. Events with 21-30 qualifiers took the top two automatically, and events with 31 or more took the top three automatically. Wildcard selections could come from any weight, so each weight at the NCAA tournament could have a different number of entries.

For two years immediately prior to 2013, the number of qualifiers was increased from 160 to 170. The qualifying system and wildcard selections continued as usual, but the final 10 entries were chosen using a formula that ensured each weight had at least 16 wrestlers and included some historical performance data.

For the 2013 season, the regional system was implemented for the first time. There were six regions (Northeast, East, Mideast, Midwest, Central, and West), and the top three wrestlers at each weight qualified for the championships. There were no wildcards. There was also no mechanism in place to keep the number of teams in each region close to equal. By the final year of this set of regions, the West Region had 11 teams while three other regions had 19 teams each. Each still qualified the top three. The West Region also looked like this:

The NCAA Division III wrestling committee tried to fix this for the 2017 season, but their proposal was rejected. Read more about what happened here and here. The regions did change, however, for the 2018 season, and those regions were used (with minor tweaks as teams were added) from 2018-2024. One key aspect of the new regions was a requirement to keep the size of every region within three teams of every other region. Conferences were also permitted to request that all teams from that conference be placed in the same region.

For the 2025 season, the number of qualifiers has been increased from 180 to 210, and a seventh region will be added. This is a welcome change, as there will be 126 teams this season with more coming in 2026. The requirement to keep conferences together has been scrapped along with the requirement to keep region sizes within three teams. The proposed regional alignment recently sent to coaches already has one region with 20 teams and another with 15. This proposal is not final, as it must pass the NCAA Management Council later this month and Presidents Council early in August. The Division III Championships committee has accepted the regional proposal and supports granting an exception to NCAA bylaw 31.3.4.3:

31.3.4.3 Regional Alignments. All members of a conference shall be placed in the same region for evaluation purposes, unless the Championships Committee has granted an exception. Members of those conferences granted an exception shall be placed in their natural geographical regions for evaluation purposes.

See the map at the top for a general idea of what the regions could look like, but keep in mind that these are not final. There will be seven regions this winter, but they might not look like what you see above.

1 COMMENT

  1. Keep six regions, qualify the top five. That would give you 30 man brackets, You could realign the regionals as you fit This would still qualify less than one quarter of the wrestlers. Currently, D1 has almost half of the wrestlers participating at nationals, D2 is over 30%.

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