Postponed season leaves Perry Wrestling spinning its wheels

Perry+Wrestlers+practice+for+a+postponed+season+on+Thursday+Dec.10.+COVID+numbers+have+remained+in+the+%22red++zone%22%2C+leaving+winter+sports+athletes+waiting+for+their+first+contest.

Roman Valenzuela

Perry Wrestlers practice for a postponed season on Thursday Dec.10. COVID numbers have remained in the “red zone”, leaving winter sports athletes waiting for their first contest.

 Wrestling is practicing for the postponed winter season and with COVID numbers rising once again, special procedures have been put in place to ensure the safety of student-athletes. The AIA has set out guidelines for a return to sport, citing specific metrics that COVID numbers must fall into in order to begin the season, as well as making rule modifications in the name of player safety. 

The governing body published guidelines earlier in the year, and they include the rigorous sanitization of equipment, limiting any physical contact, and regulates close-contact, with student-athletes wearing masks and socially distancing at all meets and tournaments. Mandating a socially distanced head table and a battery of tests prior to wrestlers hitting the mats. According to new data from the Maricopa County health department, with numberpODs surpassing 500 confirmed cases Per 100K in the district as a whole, the CUSD is still behind the curve, meaning no return before the winter intersession.

Head Coach Alex Pavlenko has also created new regulations for practicing during the global pandemic as well, primarily focusing on how athletes are training. “We split the team into two groups, to give more room for the athletes,” Pavlenko said adding, “Half start in the wrestling room, the other half are in the running/ weight room.” Wrestlers also have a designated training partner to practice with every day.

Junior Hershal Hall, a veteran from last season, commented on the circumstances of the season, “Just have to be careful with COVID because one mistake and you can lose a season”. Changes to the wrestling room as well, circles are set six feet apart from each other, and a limited number of athletes are allowed in at a time, but Pavlenko and the coaching staff are filling in the gaps where necessary, Hall said, “I have learned to drill faster, and be a better leader on the mat.”

Perry wrestling looks very different from previous seasons, all the new regulations have changed the landscape for many hopeful student-athletes. On the topic of the ever-changing season, Senior Jacob Hanson said, “It makes everything harder, but we still learn everything”.  Even when the season resumes, that will be incredibly different as well, with the AIA ruling that “No competitions/meets/tournaments shall occur” with dual meets being the only exception, in the applicable scenario from the governing organization’s phased return to sport, updated on Nov. 9th.

But this has not affected the team’s morale, with Pavlenko noting that, “Wrestlers are excited and happy they are given a chance to wrestle this year.” In the face of demoralizing times, Pavlenko is continuing the rigorous training he promised last year when he said, “Get better. Everyday.”