Wrestling usually hits its peak in late February, but this year area grapplers will be starting their seasons instead of finishing them.
Lewis County schools Beaver River, Copenhagen and Lowville will start an abbreviated six-week calendar at 6 tonight when the Beavers host the Golden Knights in the opening match of the season. South Lewis, the county’s other school, will not field a team this season.
The three schools will compete in a home-and-home matches against each other that will run until March 5. The matches will be the first of any kind involving area wrestlers since the end of last year’s New York State tournament last February in Albany. The coronavirus pandemic has decimated the calendar that would be wrapping up in just over a week. But Copenhagen coach Clay Russell said that his team is happy to have some type of a season.
“They’re excited (to be back wrestling),” Russell said. “It’s somewhat gets things back to a sense of normalcy.”
High-risk sports such as wrestling, volleyball, basketball and hockey were given the go-ahead to practice back on Feb. 1.
Jefferson County schools were given clearance for high-risk sports one week later, with schools like Carthage, South Jefferson/Sandy Creek and Indian River practicing.
Wrestlers have will have to wear masks during matches like they’ve been doing in practice the past couple of weeks since high-risk sports were allowed to return in the county.
There is a type of headgear that allows for masks to be attached to them. There will be some adjustments and concerns in dealing with the masks.
“We sometimes have trouble with the masks in practice,” Russell said.
The sport does have one edge as sanitation is part of the culture and mats are cleaned before and after matches. Other sections like Section 5 in the Rochester area have already started and will have a sectional tournament on March 12-13. Area wrestlers have gone out of the area to compete in tournaments while there has been uncertainty about the start of an area high school season.
There will be no state tournament this year due to the pandemic.