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CIAC committees still reviewing recommendations for scholastic wrestling

Earlier this fall, the Connecticut Department of Health (DPH) released guidance that lists wrestling as a high-risk activity and that practices and competitions should not be held at this time or throughout the winter athletic season.

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference’s (CIAC) wrestling committee has come up with recommendations to reduce the risk of wrestling during the COVID-19 pandemic that has swept across the world.

Those recommendations are now with two additional CIAC committees – the sports medicine committee and the winter sports committee, according to Dan Scavone, the CIAC’s liaison to the wrestling committee.

Feedback from those two committees will be necessary before a proposal can be sent to the CIAC’s Board of Control, which makes the final decision on interscholastic athletics for their member schools. The wrestling committee might adjust their recommendations based on feedback from the other committees, Scavone said.

“We are a committee-driven organization,” Scavone said. “We don’t make unilateral decisions.”

The sports medicine committee includes doctors, athletic trainers and administrators. The winter sports committee, which is also awaiting recommendations from the boys basketball, girls basketball, indoor track and hockey committees, also vets proposals with athletic directors and officials in the Connecticut High School Coaches Association, Scavone said.

Scavone hopes to the wrestling committee will get some feedback next week on their proposals.

Scavone did not release any information regarding the wrestling committee’s recommendations saying it would be premature before the other committees have had a chance to review the proposal.

However, there was a major wrestling tournament held in Iowa earlier this month. USA Wrestling hosted their Senior National wrestling tournament with more than 350 competitors (men and women) from around the nation in three Olympic disciplines – men’s freestyle, women’s freestyle and men’s Greco-Roman.

USA Wrestling made some changes to make the sport safer for participants and spectators.

There was no COVID-19 testing at the tournament but everyone – athlete, USA Wrestling staff member, coach, volunteer and official — that entered the main Xtream Arena in Coralville, Iowa had to be checked with a temperature scanner. If their temperature is too high, they would be quarantined and provided the appropriate medical treatment.

Everyone was required to wear a mask in the facility. Only wrestlers competing on the mat were exempt but once they finish their match, they were expected to put their mask back on. Wrestlers were limited to just one coach on the mat.

Officials had the choice to wear a face shield and/or mat along with gloves. If the official didn’t want to wear gloves, they could use hand sanitizer after each match. Officials were instructed to keep their distance from the wrestlers.

Officials didn’t raise the hands of the winning wrestler but simply pointed to them.

In terms of warming up, tournament organizers had five mats placed in a nearby convention hall to help ensure social distancing among wrestlers.

The protocols for the USA Wrestling tournament focused on safe participation in the tournament and didn’t address practicing for a wrestling event.

At the upcoming Super 32 high school and middle school wrestling tournament this weekend in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, more than 1,800 wrestlers are expected. Temperatures will be checked before athletes enter the arena and only wrestlers, their coaches and immediate family will be allowed in. Athletes are being asked to only come to the arena when they are scheduled to compete.

The CIAC’s wrestling committee is comprised of 16 coaches, officials, school administrators and consultants that make recommendations about the conduct of the sport in the state.

Wrestling, football, lacrosse, competitive cheering and dance are the other sports that the Connecticut’s DPH recommends not be held at this time due to the risk of contracting and/or spreading the contagious COVID-19 coronavirus. The recommendations are for high school athletics, youth organizations, adult clubs and private leagues.

The most recent guidance from the Connecticut DPH included information and guidance from the National Federation of High School Associations. In assigning risk, NFHS considered the fact that direct person-to-person spread via respiratory droplets is the most likely route of transmission for COVID-19.

At this time, the first practice for wrestling in Conecticut is set for Nov. 30 with the first contest on Dec. 14. The last date to count for the state tournament is Feb. 11.

Scavone said that if wrestling, or any fall or winter sport, doesn’t complete at least 40 percent of their respective season, there would be an opportunity for some competition during a one-month window from March 19 through April 17.

Current state of Connecticut guidelines regarding sports

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of Connecticut Wrestling Online. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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