Looking ahead to 2021

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New modifications lay out what the season could look like

Hey everyone. It’s been awhile, hasn’t it?

More than 10 months, to be exact. Of course, the reason is self explanatory. Due to the fact that almost immediately after an historic state tournament (and the last one ever to be held at Pepsi Center, since the downtown Denver staple is now Ball Arena), the world jumped head-first into a stinky dumpster, lit a match, and set itself ablaze.

It’s been tough for a lot of people, and my deepest sympathy goes out to anyone who has been affected in one way or another by the pandemic. I feel for those who have lost jobs, homes, stability, and worst of all, lives. That’s the reality of this thing — at its worst, people are losing their lives. At its mildest, hospitals and hard-working health care professionals are stretched to capacity with little to no reinforcements or aid. It is life and death — but it’s also everything else in between.

There is another side to that, though, including those who have simply (and temporarily) lost the privileges and conveniences of a life to which they were accustomed. Tough break. We’ve all had to make sacrifices, big and small, ranging from simply wearing a mask to staying home, away from crowds, and yes — maybe not being able to participate in sports like wrestling for the time being.

But I digress. The purpose of this long-overdue post isn’t to ramble and preach, but to look ahead to 2021 and what a potential wrestling season could look like — provided that we all do our part.

With the recent news that Season B has been pushed back due to rising cases and, frankly, an unstable environment, it appears that the soonest we’d be able to hit the mats would be February 1. It’s also looking more and more like regular season tournaments won’t be happening — at least not in the same way. A recent email shared from CHSAA indicates that the modified regular season proposal includes five weeks of competition — all of which are focused on duals — in order to limit the amount of competitors in any given gym at any given time. Which makes a whole lot of sense, but it would be understandably challenging for smaller schools and teams to pull off due to lower numbers and the inability to schedule meaningful duals.

One option in the new plan would allow for “normal” regional and state tournaments, with the already modified 16-person regional bracket and eight-person state bracket. However, if health guidelines don’t allow for that to happen by the time regionals would roll around in early March, it looks like option two would be to add another week of duals, followed by a dual meet state championship format.

Option two would, of course, eliminate the individual champions — though it seems as though there could be a way to crown medalists based off their total dual records, as many dual meet tournaments already do. So there are ways to make the most of it, should things be allowed to get started. We’ll know more as February grows closer, but here are some highlights from the most recent proposed modifications (applicable to both boys and girls seasons) –

  • Regular season practices begin January 25, with competition beginning February 1
  • The regular season will consist of 10 duals, (up to two per week)
  • Teams will rotate members into the gym during the dual to limit the number of people gathered inside to 10-25 at a time, depending on the most recent health guidelines at that time
  • Season Option 1 – “normal” regionals and state with the reduced numbers as presented earlier this year (16 person bracket at regionals with first two rounds as elimination rounds and 8 person bracket at state with full consolation)
  • Season Option 2 – Team dual championship. The logistics of what this tournament would look like will be shared over the coming days and weeks. Our choice is to buy time and get a traditional culminating event.
  • March 1 has been set as the established decision-making date for either Option 1 or Option 2
  • Season timeline:
    • January 25: First day of practice
    • February 1: First day of competition
    • February 1-6: Week one
    • February 8-13: Week two
    • February 15-20: Week three
    • February 22-27: Week four
    • March 1-6: Week five
    • March 8-13: Week six or Regionals Week (Option 1)
    • March 15-20: State Championship Week

So, there it is. That’s where we are and it’s the best hand we can be dealt given everything that is going on in the world. If we get some sort of wrestling season, and are able to make it through unscathed with no outbreaks or health issues, it would be a miracle. If we aren’t able to have a wrestling season, then we will have to take a long look in the mirror and ask ourselves what we’ve been doing over the past nine months — and what can we learn from that behavior in order to quash this thing and get back to some sense of normalcy.

One thing’s for sure: CHSAA is working hard to make sure that there will be a season. There’s no question about that. Everyone, including the hard-working folks CHSAA, wants to give kids an opportunity to compete. I think it’s especially important with a sport like wrestling, which can foster so many life lessons for these types of challenges off the mat. But the thing is, we are in a global pandemic. It’s an unprecedented situation we face. And the risks are real and far-reaching.

And here’s the deal: the Colorado wrestling community is tough. Colorado high school wrestlers are tough. It takes a lot just to be a wrestler. It takes gumption, pride, and I’ll say it again — toughness. But much like being down in a match, or getting a bad call, or being in a bad position, complaining isn’t going to get us out of it. It takes a wrestler’s mindset to get through it. And much like crunch time in a match, the next moves we make are going to be critical.

Let’s just do our part and get ready to step to the line when our names are called!

— Nick Jurney

Nick Jurney
About Nick Jurney 151 Articles
Nick Jurney is a former wrestler and previously worked as a sports writer at the Pueblo Chieftain. He now works in marketing for Colorado State University in Fort Collins and helps run the Colorado Wrestling Network. You can follow him on Twitter @NVJurney.