Class 4A, 3A wrestlers get the go-ahead to compete starting Saturday

If weather cooperates, there will be outdoor wrestling at Doc Harris Stadium

It should be quite the spectacle. 

High school wrestling with an outdoor setting. 

Yes, that is in the works.

Camas has hosted big wrestling events in its past, like regionals in 2019, but this Saturday, Camas will host wrestling … outdoors. The plan is for the 4A and 3A GSHL wrestling season to start with nine teams at Doc Harris Stadium. Photo by Mike Schultz
Camas has hosted big wrestling events in its past, like regionals in 2019, but this Saturday, Camas will host wrestling … outdoors. The plan is for the 4A and 3A GSHL wrestling season to start with nine teams at Doc Harris Stadium. Photo by Mike Schultz

There is a plan in place to start wrestling competition at the Class 4A and 3A levels beginning this weekend. Oh, and if the weather cooperates, it will be outdoors so a limited number of fans will be able to attend.

High school wrestling for Class 4A and 3A teams in Southwest Washington has been in a pause after state health officials mandated that wrestlers be tested twice a week for COVID-19. Athletes in all other sports were not required to be tested.

“It feels great for the kids,” said Rory Oster, the athletic director at Camas and the president of the 4A Greater St. Helens League. “I feel like, unfortunately, they’ve been unfairly targeted. They’ve had every roadblock put in front of them. To be able to reward them with a few competitions, it is awesome.”

The nine schools from the 4A and 3A GSHLs will come together at one site, four times over the next couple of weeks. This is for boys and girls wrestlers. 

“Pretty much everything that has gone on during these condensed COVID seasons, as the guidelines have changed, we’ve had to pivot and figure out a way to make different things work,” said Cale Piland, athletic director for Evergreen Public Schools, which has four of the nine schools in the two leagues. “When it was released that we needed to test wrestlers, it took us a little bit of time to make sure our protocols were in place.”

The athletic directors met Tuesday morning. Oster and Piland said they feel ready to move forward with the sport.

“We feel confident we will be able to adhere to those (new protocols), and, most importantly, these kids will get an opportunity to compete,” Piland said.

Oster added, though, that administrators are a bit nervous about having to test 200 athletes a week. After all, he said, COVID-19 is still wreaking havoc on schedules in other sports. The Prairie boys basketball program, as well as the Skyview varsity and JV boys basketball programs are in protocol this week. So, too, are the Heritage JV baseball team and the Camas JV girls basketball team. 

Big-school wrestlers have been able practice since the start of the abbreviated winter sports season, on April 12. Now, it looks like they will be able to compete.

The plan: Four major events, with all nine schools bringing their athletes to one spot. The first event is Saturday at Doc Harris Stadium in Camas. That will be followed by a Wednesday event, another Saturday, and a Wednesday again. Sites are to be determined, with Battle Ground and Mountain View as possibilities for the Wednesday events because those schools have multiple gyms.

The number of wrestlers competing this season varies at each school. Athletic directors were unsure that some wrestlers would get matchups if they just scheduled duals or three teams at a time.

Piland said appropriate matchups will be determined based on skill level and weight classes. 

As far as COVID-19, each school district has its own protocols in place for any positive tests.

The small schools have already been wrestling. Class 1A started practice for winter sports on April 26 and has already held competitions. One athletic director reported that some athletes are choosing not to be tested. Those athletes can practice but not compete. For the most part, the AD said, things have gone smoothly for the sport.

Class 2A schools started winter sports practice on May 3. Many teams are scheduled to compete this week.

As far as 4A and 3A wrestlers, for now, the plan is a wrestling extravaganza at Doc Harris Stadium on Saturday. The four 4A schools and the five 3A schools, to compete in front of some fans.

“We hope it works out,” Oster said. “It will look a little different. I think the kids will enjoy it. It will be a pretty cool atmosphere.”

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