Wrestling back on the mat — with recommendations

Steve Smith
Posted 1/18/21

Prep wrestling for boys and girls will be a part of the so-called “Season B” of interscholastic athletics for some, but not all Colorado High Schools.   The Colorado High School Activities …

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Wrestling back on the mat — with recommendations


Prep wrestling for boys and girls will be a part of the so-called “Season B” of interscholastic athletics for some, but not all Colorado High Schools.  

The Colorado High School Activities Association received a waiver from state health officials earlier this month. As of late last week, Brighton, Fort Lupton, Prairie View, Adams City and Riverdale Ridge high schools were planning to field teams.

Clear Creek and Skyview high schools, among others, won’t field teams. In Clear Creek’s case, it’s just the wrestling program. In Skyview’s case, the Wolverines won’t field any of the sports (boys and girls basketball plus wrestling) this winter. 

Two of the last areas to get the OK for a wrestling season were the Boulder Valley and St. Vrain school districts. That happened less than two weeks before the season can begin. Frederick High School is in the St. Vrain District. 

The OK comes with caution on the part of state and local health department officials. A letter from the Metro Denver Partnership for Health to CHSAA went so far as to recommend delaying the wrestling season until later in the semester.  

One of the authors is Dr. John M. Douglas, executive director of the Tri-County Health Department. 

“We have significant concerns about the exposure risk this creates for wrestlers due to the sport’s high degree of person-to-person contact and the increased exhalation while in close contact and with unmasked faces,” according to the letter. “Increased risk of transmission among these athletes not only threatens their health but the potential for schools to continue in-person learning.”

CHSAA will not force wrestlers to wear masks during bouts.

The letter offered other tips for the coming season that included: 

• Promote the use of the Binax Home test. “Test all wrestlers regularly as well as prior to competitions, looking to the practices and experiences of other team sporting organizations implementing routine testing approaches,” the letter said;

• Require all wrestlers to attend classes 100 percent remotely through the semester or until 14 days after the last bout at the end of the wrestling season; and

• Work together to identify a masking system that could work with wrestling and not increase safety issues with wrestlers, including identifying options and promising practices from other states.  

The MDPH letter also expressed similar concerns for cheer and spirit teams, though less so than wrestling teams. The reason is there is more limited contact. 

Cheer and spirit seasons are part of the Season B schedule. 

“Cheerleaders should only remove their mask when engaged in tumbling, stunting, or flying, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics,” the letter read. “Masks should be worn at all other times, and coaches are strongly encouraged to alter routines to achieve mask wearing and distancing to the greatest extent possible.” 

Practices began this week.  MDPH stated its support of interscholastic athletics “...and believes that CHSAA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s guidance will help reduce risk while allowing young athletes to be physically active, another shared goal.”

“Local jurisdictions may have masking requirements in place that are more stringent than the state masking requirement, and we encourage you to work with your local public health agency to clarify these requirements and how they align with these recommendations,” the letter said.


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