What has been anticipated throughout most of the winter became official Friday. The state’s 2020-21 high school wrestling season has been canceled.
The Maine Principals’ Association wrestling committee met Friday morning to review the sport’s status and determined that a competitive season beginning in late February would not be possible. The decision stemmed from the fact there had been no revisions to state community sports guidelines that had identified wrestling as a “higher risk” sport and limited it to physically distanced skills and drills.
“To date there has been no change in the Community Sports Guidelines and we have no indication that there will in the near future,” MPA assistant executive director Mike Bisson said Friday in a memo to the state’s high schools that sponsor wrestling. “We have waited as long as possible to allow for some type of season and a final decision needed to be made.”
The effort to salvage a wrestling season began last fall when the same MPA committee developed guidelines designed to create the safest environment possible for the sport. That came even though Maine’s community sports guidelines classified wrestling as a Level 2 activity with no intrasquad matches or competition against other teams.
The MPA initially pushed back the start of the wrestling season from November until at least late February, holding out hope that after the anticipated holiday surge of COVID-19 cases the state guidelines might be revisited and some sort of season could be held.
Wrestling proponents were encouraged further earlier this month when the National Federation of State High School Associations discontinued its categorization of various sports as high, medium or low risk for potential coronavirus infection.
But state officials declined to make a similar change in the community sports guidelines, leaving wrestling to suffer the same fate as tackle football for 2020-21.
Football was postponed last fall in hopes of replacing it with a spring season until the MPA’s football committee decided in late January not to pursue that option and focus instead on working toward the 2021 fall season.
Coaches may continue to work with their wrestlers at Level 2 of the community sports guidelines until the end of the winter sports season on March 12.