Members of the MIAA’s Wrestling Committee are hopeful that a 2021 season will come to fruition in an untraditional setting, with an April 26th start, alongside traditional spring sports.
The 2019-20 wrestling season concluded on March 7, just days before cancelations were implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the MIAA deemed wrestling too high of a risk for virus transmission to take place this winter.
In a virtual meeting Thursday morning, the committee discussed modifications that will likely be approved by the Sports Medicine Committee on March 8. The COVID-19 Task Force is scheduled to meet on March 11, and the Board of Directors the following day. Individual and team tournaments will not be held because those events require more teams, and therefore, more people in a confined space. So any potential season will be restricted to dual meets and tri-meets, with priority given to league dual meets. Teams will not be allowed to compete outside Massachusetts.
Wrestlers will be expected to wear masks during competition and Phil Napolitano, committee liaison, has talked to officials in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association about their use of gaiters during matches. They found gaiters stay in place better during matches than traditional masks, and can cover a wrestler’s nose and mouth, but no ruling has been finalized regarding their usage.
In order to mitigate virus spread in locker rooms in competition areas, only morning weigh-ins will be conducted at a team’s school the day of a meet, and the pre-meet weigh-in will not exist. If a wrestler’s school is in a hybrid or remote learning environment, they will be allowed to go to their school for a morning weigh-in.
At dual meets and tri-meets, wrestlers must use hand sanitizer in between rounds. During tri-meets, one mat must be vacant at all times so it can be cleaned while the other is in use.
Outdoor matches may be a realistic option.
“It’s definitely still a possibility,” said Burlington coach Paul Shvartsman, the coaches’ representative to the committee. “It’s a recommendation, it’s not a requirement.”
Although individual tournaments will not take place, the committee hopes wrestlers can have a dual meet sectional tournament — which was the format for determining sectional champions in the mid 2000s-early 2010s — or league dual meet tournaments similar to the format many leagues have been using this year to determine champions.
“I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be able to do that for wrestling,” said Shvartsman. “At least have a dual meet sectional champ at the end of all this.”
Cape Cod 2, Dennis-Yarmouth 1 (2 OT) — Junior defenseman Julia Weiner scored off a rebound with 2:53 remaining in the second overtime to lift the fourth-seeded Furies past fifth-seeded D-Y in a Cape & Islands League Tournament quarterfinal at Charles Moore Arena in Orleans.
Weiner’s goal came after junior Charlotte Manganaro erased the Furies’ 1-0 deficit with 7:13 left in regulation. The Furies (3-4-5) visit top-seeded Falmouth (11-0-1) for a semifinal at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
Sophomore Hannah O’Dowd scored the lone goal for D-Y (3-7-3). Furies freshman goaltender Olivia Avellar made 25 saves in the win.
Barnstable 5, Martha’s Vineyard 3 — Freshman Claire Hazard scored the go-ahead goal in the third period as Barnstable (6-2-3) rallied from a 2-0 first-period deficit for the semifinal victory in the Cape & Islands Tournament at the Hyannis Youth Center.
Freshman Ally McEneaney netted a pair of second-period goals and Kate Brewster had another as Barnstable surged to a 3-2 lead. But MV (0-9-4) tied the game at 3 on the second goal of the game from Paige Anderson.
Cayleigh Malone tallied an insurance goal with 28 seconds left. Barnstable advances to Sunday’s final, facing the Cape Cod Furies vs. Falmouth winner.
Nantucket 3, St. John Paul II 1 — After St. John Paul II scored midway through the third period to cut the deficit in half, sophomore Jack Billings responded minutes later with the game-sealing tally as the host Whalers (11-3-1) earned the Cape & Islands Lighthouse semifinal win at Nantucket Ice Skating Rink.
“In games like this where you seem to be dominating the game but it turns into a grind-it-out game and it’s important to stay the course,” said Nantucket coach Scott Corbett.
“Man-to-man, they just all followed the game plan.”
Senior Alex Freeman netted a power-play goal in the first period, junior Hudson Perry doubled the advantage in the second with a wrister in the slot, and senior goalie James Culkins stopped 19 of 20 shots in net for the top-seeded Whalers.
Nantucket will play Dennis-Yarmouth in Saturday’s final.
“I’m happy for our seniors and they’ve set the bar for what future Whalers will want to achieve,” said Corbett. “It’s damn close to the best team this high school has had so it will be nice to hopefully send this team off with a championship.”
No Fall II at Whittier
Prioritizing the health and well-being of its students and coaches during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and citing the limited space physically available for practices and games outside, particularly in late February and March, Whittier Tech in Haverhill will not offer a Fall II season, the MIAA’s ‘wedge’ season that runs from Feb. 22 to April 25.
Noting that Whittier has not held sports since March 2020, superintendent Maureen Lynch said the decision was “a tremendously difficult one for our district.”
“In a normal fall sports season . . . we have several fields available to us to hold practices and games,” Lynch said. “We simply don’t have the same level of access to those resources during the winter months because of snow, ice and other factors. We also can’t use our gym and lobby as practice spaces, further limiting our resources, because we are using those locations as lunchrooms to meet the need for social distancing due to the pandemic.
“If we can’t offer a sports season to all Fall II athletes, we’re not having one at all because it simply wouldn’t be equitable,” adding that she is hopeful, should the COVID numbers stay down in the district’s 11 communities, that Whittier may be able to offer a spring season (April 26-July 3).
Brad Joyal reported from Orleans. Correspondents Matt Doherty, Emma Healy, and Craig Larson of the Globe staff contributed. To report scores, call 617-929-2860/3235 or email email@example.com.