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Dual meets will be allowed this spring in Massachusetts, Rhode Island

Dual meets will be allowed in Massachusetts and Rhode Island this spring but the wrestlers will be required to wear masks during the match. (Photo courtesy Sam Janicki Photography)

Some high school students may get the chance to wrestle this spring in Massachusetts and Rhode Island but athletes will have to compete with masks.

At a recent COVID-19 press conference, Rhode Island Gov. Dan McGee recently announced that competition in wrestling would be allowed this spring. Practice began on April 26 for Ocean State teams.

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association’s (MIAA) Board of Directors voted 17-0 to approve modifications for wrestling this spring on Friday, April 30. Updated guidance from the state’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs will allow wrestling this spring in the Bay State.

Rhode Island and Massachusetts were among the New England states that pushed high school wrestling to the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Connecticut, Maine and Vermont cancelled their scholastic wrestling seasons while New Hampshire allowed dual meets only this winter.

Connecticut wrestlers have had some opportunities to participate in a New England-wide tournament in New Hampshire in April along with competing at the National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) national tournaments in Virginia Beach.

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference didn’t move wrestling or football to the spring because they didn’t want to impact traditional spring sports programs that had their seasons eliminated last spring when the COVID-19 pandemic began sweeping across the nation.

In Rhode Island, wrestlers need to meet COVID protocols that include tests on the day of the match. Masks are required for the athletes to compete and mats must be disinfected prior to the meet and between each match, according to the Providence Record Journal and rules from the state of Rhode Island.

Teams are limited to dual meets or a tri-meet with no more than three schools together at one time. State officials are trying to organize a state tournament but it will depend on the COVID-19 rules in place. Some Rhode Island schools are exploring the possibility of holding dual meets outside.

In Massachusetts, everyone must wear a mask – coaches, officials, spectators and athletes on the mat. There will be no tournaments. Only dual meets are allowed although there could be back-to-back meets on the same day with different teams as along as COVID-19 protocols for social distancing are observed.

Schools are encouraged to host outdoor wrestling meets and practices should be outdoors, if possible. Schools are encouraged to keep training limited to small groups of wrestlers to minimize the possible spread of the disease.

Some schools in Massachusetts won’t field wrestling teams this spring because they don’t have enough athletes to form a team. The spring sports season for traditional spring sports such as baseball, softball, track and field, tennis, golf and lacrosse, has been underway since early April.

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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