The MIAA’s Board of Directors needed only 10 minutes during Friday’s virtual meeting to approve modifications for wrestling competition during the spring season.
By a 17-0 vote, and with no discussion or questions, the board approved the recommendations of the association’s COVID-19 task force and sports medicine committee.
Updated guidance from the state’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs allowed for wrestling in the spring after the sport was not cleared for competition during the winter.
“It’s good. If kids go almost two full years without wrestling, you don’t know how many are going to come back,” said Burlington’s Paul Shvartsman, the coaches’ representative to the MIAA wrestling committee. “It’s good to get them out there competing, even if it’s less than ideal.”
The most significant requirement is that masks or face coverings must be worn “at all times by participants, officials, coaches, spectators and facility personnel.”
“If a wrestler’s mask is removed or altered during competition, the official must stop the match, unless in a scoring situation,” the modifications read. “The process is the same as when the protective ear guard is misplaced.”
Wakefield athletic director Brendan Kent, chair of the MIAA wrestling committee, said there was a lot of good input from all sides — particularly coaches and officials — about how the mask rule would be enforced. The committee also was able to collect data from other states and national tournaments, as well as the NCAA championships, some of which competed without masks.
“Overall we’re pleased with what we came away with,” Kent said. “From the committee perspective, coming up with the modifications was tough. You want to put enough safety measures in there where everyone is safe. In addition to that, we [wanted] to put enough in so that it gets approved, but don’t want to put in too much where it compromises the sport.”
Teams can compete only in dual meets or tri meets. In the case of tri meets, they will be allowed only if: meets are held back-to-back; a facility has multiple fields, courts or surfaces that allow teams to distance between transitions; no teams or wrestlers are required to wait for the second meet other than a limited break for transition.
Schools are encouraged, but not required, to host meets and practices outdoors. Practices should be limited to small group trainings (4-5 wrestlers), with cohorts at least 14 feet apart.
Other modifications include:
▪ Morning weigh-ins at home schools are encouraged, but on-site weigh-ins are allowed separately by team rather than weight class
▪ All participants are encouraged to arrive for practices or meets dressed to compete; locker rooms are permitted to open at 50 percent capacity
▪ Team size is limited to essential personnel, staff, and “only those with the ability to wrestle”
“I’m just thrilled that we’re having wrestling,” Kent said. “Up until a couple of weeks ago we weren’t sure we were going to have a season.”
Jim Clark can be reached at email@example.com.