The uproar was quieted a little on Tuesday afternoon when it was announced that the wrestling season in Arizona was restored.
The Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) announced the season, which was put in jeopardy because of an outbreak in skin disease, would resume on Friday for smaller divisions for Division III and IV and on Saturday for Division I and II.
The smaller divisions will have their state tournament at Tim’s Toyota Center on Friday and Saturday. The sectional qualifying tournament was canceled and a 32-man bracket, filled in with wrestlers with a winning record in seven matches or more.
The big schools will continue with the sectional tournaments (four per division) on Saturday at the original locations. The state tournament will be the following weekend at Tim’s Toyota Center.
Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe will head to Ironwood Ridge for a 11-team sectional on Saturday. It starts at 10 a.m. with the finals expected to start around 5 p.m.
The Pride, however, was one of the teams hit by the skin disease popping up on about five athletes last Friday, and whether or not individuals are cleared won’t be known for sure until weigh-ins on Saturday.
The AIA felt it made the best possible decision at this point after working with public health officials to identify the nature of the infection(s), determine how widespread this may be, and incubation period(s).
“We hope that this will come to a timely resolution. We realize that this was an inconvenience and disappointment for many and yet, reducing the possible spread of infection had to take priority,” Chuck Schmidt, associate executive director, said on Monday before the organization made a final decision.
The reaction by the AIA wasn’t well received by the wrestling community, mainly because they felt there was already a system in place to protect the wrestlers and the small school coaches weren’t happy they were treated differently.
The community wanted more answers to actually what the skin infection is rather than listen to rumors of herpes gladiatorum that hit the college level and Minnesota high schools in 2007 and pointing fingers at certain teams as the main culprit.
“I can believe that,” Desert Vista coach David Gonzalez said at the time. “These kids have worked hard and this knee-jerk reaction has hurt the process.
“It didn’t need to get to this point. There is a system in place to protect the kids. Either you have a doctor’s note or you don’t wrestle. This is really hurting kids who are ready to go.”
It is believed that the herpes strain started at the 24-team Pack Invitational Jan. 24-25 at Centennial High, which also included a college dual meet between Menlo College and Glendale Community College.
Those 24 teams then wrestled dual meets the following week, including Cesar Chavez versus Mountain Pointe, to expose the herpes strain to other Division I teams. It is unclear whether or not there is a chance of others being exposed during this week’s action.
Chandler coach Vidal Mejia has his kids prepare all along as if they need to make weight on Friday.
“That’s the approach we have to take right now,” he said at the time. “The (AIA’s) generic statement isn’t telling anybody anything.”
Mejia believes the initial decision was an overreaction.
“We are talking about a skin issue and we have provisions in place to take care of that,” he said. “If they reacted to concussions in football the way they are reacting to this they would ban football across the nation.”
Fortunately, the season will continue and the process worked to a certain degree.
“Let’s start wrestling,” Gonzalez said.
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