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New England championships in wrestling cancelled for 2021

The 2020 New England wrestling championships were held in Meuthen, Mass., last March in front of packed gym.

For the first time since 1965, there will be no New England wrestling championship meet to conclude the high school wrestling season.

Earlier this month, the New England Council, the organization that hosts New England championship meets in 13 sports, voted unanimously to cancel the fall and winter championship meets due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The cross country championship meet won’t be held in November nor will the wrestling, indoor track, gymnastics, dance and cheerleading meets that were scheduled for February and March.

A decision on the 2021 spring events (outdoor track and field and golf) will be made later in 2021.

Even if the Council wanted to hold a championship meet, many schools would not be able to attend. In Connecticut, fall sports is limited to regional competition and there will be no state tournaments this fall. Out-of-state competition is prohibited at this time.

“The Council knew that many state associations, (school) superintendents and (school) principals are not currently and would not be sanctioning out-of-state travel in the coming months,” said Donald Friedman, Executive Director of the Council of New England Secondary School Principals’ Association (CNESSPA). “Even if out-of-state travel was allowed, a common date for New England championships would not be available and would complicate the individual state planning.”

The six New England states have yet to decide on their rules for winter sports yet, although a committee of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) recently recommended that the MIAA not hold any sectional or state tournaments this winter.

Each state is doing what is comfortable for them. This fall, Connecticut and Massachusetts are not holding any state tournaments for the sports. Maine cancelled their fall state tournaments in all sports except cross country and golf.

Vermont is hosting state championship tournaments in boys and girls soccer, field and cross country but not in football or volleyball. New Hampshire is hosting state tournaments in boys and girls soccer, football, volleyball, golf and bass fishing.

Rhode Island will host state championship tournaments in soccer, cross country, field hockey and girls tennis. Football and girls volleyball were not allowed to be played this fall.

The Council was also facing the issue of securing facilities large enough to host these New England championship events during the pandemic and a facility willing to welcome out-of-state visitors.

The New England wrestling championships have been held each year since 1965. Danbury has won three of the last four New England championships, including the 2020 title last March in Metuhen, Mass. Connecticut didn’t begin competing at the New England tournament in wrestling until 1987.

The wrestling meet was the final New England championship meet of the year before the pandemic hit New England and the cancellations of athletics began.

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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