Wrestling Teams Think Outside The Box

by Kevin Burton

   Once in a great while, the human reaction to the Covid 19 crisis makes me smile.

   Earlier this month, Wichita Northwest and Bishop Carroll high schools held their wrestling meet outdoors, so parents could watch the matches for the first time this season.  To that point parents had been barred from attending indoor sporting events for fear of spreading the virus.

   The idea started as a joke.

   “My athletic director came up and asked if I wanted to host it,’ Bishop Carroll coach Kyle Cline, told KSNW TV. “I texted him, ‘Hey, why don’t we do it on the football field?’ Just kind of joking. And then he, not even 30 seconds later, he said, ‘Yes. Let’s make it happen.’”

   All they needed was relatively warm December weather and to take the wrestling matt outside. Bishop Carroll won the dual meet 43-33.

   “We’ve had so many challenges this year with Covid. This gives the kids a chance to do something unique,” Northwest coach Ron Russell told KWCH TV. 

   Very unusual, but not unique I discovered.  Outdoor wrestling seems to be catching on in New Jersey.

   The Morristown Daily Record reported that Delbarton and Bergen Catholic high schools and also Morris Hills and Morris Knolls high schools held outdoor meets. Also the Cherry Hill Courier-Post reports that West Deptford and Gateway high schools were planning an outdoor meet.

   “If we can pull this off, it will be something these kids remember forever,” said Gateway coach Jim Rutter.  “We want it to be a show. Heck, I’m going to try to get the school’s bands out there, too, if everything is allowed by that time. Whatever we can do for these kids, we’re going to do. They have been through so much.”

   “You have to be flexible and willing to pivot,” said Delbarton athletic director Dan Whalen. “It’s outside the box thinking, which is what we need in these crazy times. I think it’s great. I hope the kids have a great experience. Everyone’s goal is for these kids to have a good experience, even if it’s not completely normal.”

   “I don’t think there’s any down side to it,” added Bergen Catholic coach Dave Bell. “It’s something to be excited about.”

   From the limited television coverage I saw I could not tell if cheerleaders were there. But I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t have been.

   The Kansas and New Jersey meets are believed to be the first held outdoors in their respective states. Parents of the Wichita wrestlers told reporters they were thrilled to be able to attend.

   I imagine other schools will do this.  I can see parents around the country unable to watch their kids compete, finding out about these outdoor meets and telling athletic directors. 

   It was fun to read about this because I was a high school wrestler.  What a blast it would have been to wrestle outside! As I recall it though, the weather in Columbus, Ohio would have been way too cold.

   The only difference in wrestling outside I can think of is perhaps if there were any wind, it might carry the shouted instructions of your coach in the opposite direction. 

   My only similar experience in terms of a sporting event held in an unusual venue was when I played in a beep baseball series between the Wichita Sonics and Minnesota on artificial turf at the University of Nebraska Omaha.  That happened because rain made their soccer fields unplayable.  As far as I know that’s the only beep baseball series played indoors.

   Much of the news related to Covid 19 has been examples of what Paul Harvey used to call, “man’s inhumanity to man.”  Very nice to read about an idea that is a positive for everyone involved.

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