Training Schools and Camps Wrestling With COVID-19

By Brian Jerzak

Businesses around the nation have all had to deal with several changes during the last six months. The business of wrestling has had to adjust too. While high school and college programs have had many challenges, so have wrestling training facilities. How are these training facilities dealing with our new reality, and how are they planning for an uncertain future?

I talked with four wrestling training school owners and one wrestling camp director/coach to find out their thoughts on wrestling with COVID-19.

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With fate of high school wrestling pending, some organizations get creative

It’s been a tough summer on the mat for wrestlers of all ages due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Nick Lyden, president of Minnesota/USA Wrestling said watching many events and opportunities get canceled since mid-March has been a “gut-wrenching experience,” adding sports like wrestling provide numerous mental and physical benefits to kids and teenagers.

“I’m personally worried by the opportunities lost and those we may lose in the future,” he said. Continue reading at swnewsmedia.com

USA Wrestling Preseason Nationals, named for late Brian Keck, set for Oct. 30-Nov. 1

USA Wrestling has named its popular Preseason Nationals tournament after the late Brian Keck, who helped create the event and served as its event director for more than a decade.

The 2020 USA Wrestling Brian Keck Memorial Preseason Nationals will return to Hyvee Hall inside the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa, October 30 – November 1.

Keck worked with USA Wrestling to found the Preseason Nationals in 2008, a major early season national folkstyle wrestling event for athletes of all ages. The first event was held in Des Moines, then spent nine years in Cedar Falls, Iowa, before returning to Des Moines in 2018. During its 12 years with Keck’s involvement, the competition grew in size and prestige.

Keck tragically passed away at the age 48 during a trip to Mexico in November, 2019.

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Contact sports face special challenges to restart in the COVID-19 era

The nature of some sports dictates that hard contact isn’t going to ease up, so it will be up to COVID-19 testers to be gatekeepers of sorts. And that might not be enough to keep seasons viable.

Football players ram into each other to begin a play and usually end it with a collision that brings a ball carrier to the ground.

Hockey players pin each other against the boards with body checks and use any physical means necessary to separate an opponent from the puck.

Wrestlers square off inches apart, then almost immediately grab arms, bump heads and exert themselves in face-to-face contact, often breathing the same air for six minutes or more.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, public health officials have stressed social distancing to combat the deadly virus, which is largely spread through infected droplets from coughing, sneezing and talking. But for contact sports, social distancing isn’t a workable option. Continue reading at startribune.com

Ponce Trained – In Wrestling and In Life

Before high school, Orlando Ponce wasn’t going down the best path. When introduced to wrestling, his path started going in a positive direction. After high school, when he thought wrestling was out of his life, Ponce began to go down some troubling roads again. Wrestling would get re-introduced into his life, and he has never looked back.

“My high school coach and the people who influenced me through wrestling,” Ponce said, “if not for them, I would be in a much different situation.”

Now, Ponce has devoted his life to influencing kids through his faith and through wrestling.

Ponce didn’t grow up in a wrestling hotbed.

“I was born in Nicaragua and was raised in South Florida. It was not a big wrestling community. I got a later start in wrestling. My brother started wrestling but dropped out of high school. He encouraged one of my other brothers to wrestle. This brother was a state champion and went on to wrestle for Lock Haven in Pennsylvania. I was a ninth-grader when he was a senior. My brother encouraged me to wrestle.”

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USA Wrestling releases Return to Events Guidelines to help event organizers with planning and operations protocols

USA Wrestling has released the “Return to Events Guidelines” document, which are guidelines and recommendations for the wrestling community as it contemplates holding local- and state-level events, with extensive recommendations on event operations protocol in the current COVID-19 pandemic environment.

The document includes specific chapters on Venue Selection, Government and Medical Expert Adherence, Event Groups, Medical Plan, Infection Mitigation Procedures, Communication, Operational Plan and an Appendix of additional resources.

The Operational Plan is an extensive document that can be downloaded as a pdf, which includes a step-by-step checklist of specific actions that are recommended in a variety of event-related operations. USA Wrestling highly encourages potential event hosts to use both the Return to Events Guidelines and the downloadable Operation Plan during planning and when they are on-site at a wrestling competition.

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