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High school wrestling season unfolds with fewer participants

Because of the requirements to wrestle in Colorado and Boulder County, many student-athletes had to skip their time on the mat this winter. Silver Creek wrestling coach Chris Blair said the reasons vary from concern about the requirement that wrestlers exclusively learn remotely to the risk of wrestling during a pandemic. 
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Everything is abridged and a bit rushed in this brief six-week Colorado high school wrestling season. Silver Creek traveled to Greeley to duel with Northridge Thursday before a quad meet scheduled for Saturday at Severance. It will only feature three teams because one school had to pull out due to a COVID quarantining issue.

“There’s more focus on dual meets this year,” Silver Creek wrestling coach Chris Blair said this week. “Having more dual meets means more invested interest from the kids to have individual results on the mat (that) lead to a team victory. I’m a big fan of duels, growing up in Iowa, where it was dual heavy. We’re stretching the regulations for Boulder County just by having a quad.”

Because of the requirements to wrestle in Colorado and Boulder County, many student-athletes had to skip their time on the mat this winter. Blair said the reasons vary from concern about the requirement that wrestlers exclusively learn remotely to the risk of wrestling during a pandemic. 

“Coming back from last year’s roster we had 14 different opt-outs,” Blair said. “I think Longmont had about the same numbers. I had one kid who probably would have gone to state for us this year. It was a hard decision but he opted out because of health reasons within his family.”

Despite little or no fans in attendance and smaller teams, Blair said it isn’t gloomy for the wrestlers who have chosen to grapple with all the complications of this season.

“Before the first meet it wasn’t until about noon that I started to get those stomach rumbles,” Blair said. “It  took a little longer to kick in. But when we got to the meet, the kids had the energy. Both myself and my assistant coach were like, ‘Can we get on the mat instead of these kids?’ So the energy was still there. My kids were more vocal on the side of the mat than we were last year. Especially since we have a limited number out for wrestling this year.”

Longmont and Skyline take pride in their wrestling programs and were all set to have a duel on Thursday at Longmont High School. But the meet was canceled at the last minute because of concern over a COVID-related issue.

"We had a situation we needed to have figured out before we could wrestle," said Longmont High School Athletic Director Pete Scheck. "We'll try to reschedule."

"We're young," Scheck added. "We lost a lot of kids from last year. This is definitely a rebuilding year but we'll keep moving forward. A quarantine might happen here or there but as long as we're able to use that targeted quarantine protocol, it shouldn't become a big issue."

Silver Creek hosts two duals this season against Niwot and Lyons. Its one home quad meet is scheduled for Feb. 27. Just days later regionals will begin and the season will be over by mid-March.

"The first individual tournament we have is going to be regionals,” Blair said. “That’s kind of tricky because we profess team sport, team sport, team sport. Then we get to regionals where it technically counts and it’s like you versus you. You’re on your own.”