ROCHELLE — Winter sports are on the horizon, and while several traditional winter sports are currently scheduled to proceed as expected, one sport will be noticeably absent from that list.
The IHSA Board of Directors voted this past week to postpone the upcoming wrestling season to a summer start that would begin April 19, 2021. Board members voted to postpone the season during a special meeting this past Wednesday, when the board voted to proceed with the upcoming basketball season as well as low-risk sports like bowling, cheer and dance.
“I was anxious to hear from the IHSA,” RTHS head wrestling coach Alphonso Vruno said. “I anticipated that the season was going to be canceled or pushed to the summer. I’d say I’m more relieved than I am surprised… I don’t think wrestling could’ve happened this winter in the capacity that we want it to. The pinnacle of high school sports in Illinois is the IHSA State Championships and there’s no doubt in my mind that wouldn’t have happened this winter. Pushing the wrestling season back to the summer may give us that opportunity.”
Wrestling is currently classified as a high-risk sport by the IDPH, meaning wrestlers across the state can only conduct no-contact practices as defined by the All Sports Policy. Restrictions on wrestling have occurred since the spring, when the IWCOA Fresh-Soph State Championships and the IKWF State Championships were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Since then, Vruno said wrestlers have been able to lift weights at the high school and stay conditioned on their own. Although winter, spring and summer sports were allowed 20 fall contact days by the IHSA this season, Vruno said he plans to wait until the spring to begin ramping up wrestling activities. The summer season will conclude on June 26, 2021.
“Wrestling can be a long sport,” Vruno said. “I didn’t want to use my contact days and get the kids excited, only for the season to be canceled or pushed back. However, RTHS and the PE department has graciously opened up the weight room to the kids and I know some of our kids are taking advantage of that. We have limited access to the kids right now academically and athletically. I can’t speak for all coaches, but I feel it will be best to wait until the spring to address wrestling. However, many of our wrestling will hopefully be playing football at that time, so wrestlers not in football will be asked to do some conditioning practices.”