Let the wrestling resume.
In the end, the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s postponement of last Saturday’s 16 section tournaments because of concerns about wrestlers with skin infections didn’t prolong the season for the Division III and IV student-athletes more than one day.
Payson wrestlers compete in Division III. The state tournaments in both Division III and Division IV, originally scheduled for Feb. 13-14, were delayed one day. They begin at 9 a.m. today at Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott Valley and conclude Saturday night in the originally scheduled venue. Officials added four more rounds to replace the postponed section tournaments.
Now, instead of needing to win four matches in two days to claim a state championship, wrestlers must win six bouts — four today and two Saturday.
All four division state tournaments were originally scheduled to take place this weekend at Tim’s Toyota Center. The shift will delay Divisions I and II by a week, until Feb. 21-22 at Tim’s Toyota Center.
I was concerned the AIA might be creating more problems with the postponement by keeping wrestlers at small schools on the mats instead of moving on to participate in spring sports. They were already going to be a week behind since baseball, track and golf practice all began this Monday. A delay of even a week may have left them without adequate time to prepare for the first competitive action of the season on the diamond, track or golf course.
Small schools like Payson depend on students who play in several sports to field full teams. But PHS athletic director Don Heizer says the turnout for baseball and track has been impressive.
As of mid-day Wednesday, officials still hadn’t identified the skin disease that led to the postponement.
“We still don’t have a clear diagnosis,” said Jeanene Fowler, public information supervisor for the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, in an e-mail response to questions from the Roundup. “As of (Tuesday, Feb. 11), there were five schools and 15 kids affected.”
The AIA stressed its belief that preventing an infection from spreading was worth disrupting the tournament.
“We recognize that the postponement of the wrestling tournaments was an inconvenience but when compared to protecting the health and well-being of our students, it was a choice that had to be made,” said AIA executive director Dr. Harold Slemmer in a press release.