WEST SENECA — The Section VI Executive Committee has responded to its member county health departments by moving high school and modified wrestling from a winter schedule to a spring schedule.
Health Department officials from all five member counties, including Chautauqua and Cattaraugus, issued a joint statement of concern about wrestling, which is considered a high-risk sport.
“The Executive Committee of Section VI earlier today voted to move wrestling to the spring sports season. The decision came after the Health Departments in the five counties that make up the Section, released a joint statement of concern,” officials said in a press release.
‘In the interests of limiting risks and protecting the health of athletes…..WNY health department leaders strongly recommend that interscholastic wrestling cancel or postpone their winter 2021 seasons,” the joint statement reads.
Brett Banker, Section VI President, said his committee met with “representatives from all five counties and chose to follow the pleas of our health officials and the CDC, to pause our wrestling season, he said. “We never discussed canceling wrestling completely, although that was an
option. We know that a move to spring may cause conflicts with athletes and coaches, however we are thankful we had this alternative.”
Wrestling moves to the revised spring season of May 10-June 30 along with baseball, softball, tennis, lacrosse and track. The Section voted to inform the state association that they will not participate in state play this spring.
“As difficult as it was, by removing our teams from state competition in the spring, we can now extend our calendars and offer more contests for our athletes,” Banker continued. “We anticipate that with this move, our athletes will likely complete full seasons, which they lost last year.”
The current winter season, which will include basketball and ice hockey, will begin February 1, with Sectional Championships completed by March 27. Bowling, Rifle, Swimming and Skiing were allowed to start January 4. The state had already canceled state championships for Fall 2 and winter. The season that NYSPHSAA refers to as Fall 2 with football, volleyball, and cheerleading will now run March 22-May 15.
For now, the Section is not allowing spectators to attend contests however according to Banker, “We are prepared to reassess where we are with infection rates and other data, the week of February 22. We certainly want families to be able to watch their athletes compete. But we need to offer districts the opportunity first to roll out protocols and gauge how successful they are.”