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Massachusetts, New Jersey move wrestling seasons to spring

In December 2017, Douglas County High School in Colorado hosted an outdoor dual meet on their own football field. This could happen in Massachusetts with high school wrestling being moved to the spring. (Photo courtesy Douglas County High School)

Massachusetts and New Jersey have delayed the potential start for the 2021 high school wrestling season to the COVID-19 pandemic. Both states are moving the sport to the spring.

Connecticut has delayed the start of the winter sports season two months until January 19. Practices cannot begin until that date and games would begin around February 1. Since wrestling is considered a high risk sport by the Connecticut Department of Health, modifications would have to be made for the sport to played.

On Friday, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA)’s Board of Directors approved delaying the start of the winter sports season to Dec. 14. The board voted to move wrestling to the spring season.

The committee felt that wrestling has a better chance of competing if they hold meets outside. The spring season begins on April 26.

Phil Napolitano, the MIAA’s Assistant Executive Director, told Southeast Coast, “A move to the spring will allow it to take place outdoors. Wrestling being indoors was the main reason it was denied.” Wrestling is also considered a high risk sport by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

Wrestling meets not generally held outside. But a Colorado high school, Douglas County, has hosted some outdoor meets the past few years with the mat placed on the artificial turf of their football field. The first match was held in December 2017 and a second match was held in January 2019.

At the collegiate level, the University of Iowa set a new NCAA attendance record in November 2015 by beating No. 1 Oklahoma State, 18-16, before 42,287 fans in the school’s Division I football stadium.

There will be no state tournament for winter sports in Massachusetts. The MIAA eliminated those events in October.

In New Jersey, practice would begin on March 1 with competition being held between March 16 and April 24. Competition is limited to dual meets at this time with no competition outside the state.

Sports that don’t get an opportunity during their traditional season in Connecticut may be able to play in an alternative season from March 19 through April 17. Football is hoping to play some games during this period, which might impact the ability of state wrestling programs to field a team if both sports are competing during that alternative season.

In New York State, wrestling, basketball and hockey are on ice indefinitely. All four sports are classified as high-risk sports. In Maine, no matches are currently allowed and wrestling can only hold social distanced practices at this time.

Vermont have both cancelled wrestling along with the Founders League, that includes Loomis-Chaffee in Windsor, Avon Old Farms, Hotchkiss School in Salisbury, Taft School in Watertown and Trinity-Pawling in Pawling, N.Y.  The Founders League cancelled all interscholastic sports as a league this winter.

New Hampshire is planning to move forward with the winter sports. Wrestling, basketball and hockey in New Hampshire are scheduled to begin on January 11.

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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 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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