Wrestling returns to campus for preseason practice

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Roman Valenzuela

Perry wrestling gears up for a meet during the 2019-20 season.

With October 13th fast approaching, Perry wrestling is gearing up for the upcoming season, and after a powerful showing at state last year, expectations are high for this season. Wrestlers have already begun preseason training on campus, despite the fact that the AIA is yet to release a revised ruleset covering wrestling, much like those laid out for fall sports such as football. However, the district does have a set of overarching guidelines for the school as a whole, Principal Dan Serrano said in a press conference on Friday, September 25, “I have manual… I think everyone needs to know when someone tests positive, the Arizona Department of health directs how people are notified”. 

Taking these overarching guidelines into consideration, guidelines were put into place for preseason practices. Pavlenko commented on how the pandemic has affected high school wrestling in general, “The pandemic has changed wrestling tremendously, knowing we are the highest risk in High School sports, Number of teams competing, travel, spectators, and practice have all changed to help the safety of our athletes.” Not only has the pandemic affected the preseason, but it has also changed the landscape of high school wrestling altogether. During practice, students are wearing masks in accordance with the city of Gilbert health guidelines, but with many students hitting the mats, simple hygiene and social distancing may govern practices.

Last year, Perry wrestling broke school records, winning sectionals, and returning from the state tournament with five placers, two of which made it to the top three. Only one of those placers will be returning this year, Caleb Milnes, a 160-pounder who took fourth. Milnes explains, “Covid has affected wrestling a lot in terms of not being able to be in the wrestling room or weight room, staying ready for the season ahead”.

After last march and the cancellation of spring sports, many teams were unable to practice at all due to Covid-19. But Pavlenko has hope that student leadership on the team will be stronger than ever this year. Pavlenko elaborated, “We will be looking for leadership from the Cano twins, Hansen, and Milnes”, and expected good seasons for underclassmen wrestlers as well, “Look out for our young wrestlers that did well as freshman on the varsity team last year.”  With the football season as a benchmark, many other teams are beginning to return to regular training and practices, bringing back some semblance of normalcy during these unprecedented times.