The traditional state wrestling meet was set to begin Thursday, and was initially altered to start today because of the ice and snow that largely paralyzed the metro-Atlanta area.
The postponement of the wrestling championships was welcome news for many local coaches, who are now in a holding pattern until the GHSA’s next move.
“I felt like this was going to happen, given this weather,” Pope coach Jim Haskin said.
The Greyhounds, who have won three straight state traditional titles, qualified nine wrestlers to this year’s championship, but because the wrestlers wouldn’t have received the proper training prior to the tournament, a fourth straight title may have been in jeopardy.
“We couldn’t put the kids in any danger, given the conditions,” Haskin said. “It’s been frustrating. We’ve haven’t been able to practice and we can’t do anything. When you don’t practice, you’re timing gets off and kids can get hurt. Nobody wants to see that.”
Allatoona coach Joe Lanier, who had eight wrestlers qualify, was also on board with the change.
“Realistically, the tournaments could have been run (today) and Saturday,” he said, “but I know my kids wouldn’t have been ready, and as a coach, that’s nerve-racking. You get injuries that way, or you get kids not wrestling to their potential.”
If the tournament had continued as planned, teams from areas of the state not affected by the weather, particularly the southern portion of the state from the Atlantic coast west toward Valdosta, would have had an advantage.
“It was a good decision because some of the teams down south had some time to practice,” Haskin said. “That would have benefited them because they were training. Obviously, safety is the first priority for all of the athletes, simply because of travel, but to continue to the tournament would have given them an edge.”
Marietta coach Tommy Carthers agreed.
“That would have been an advantage on their end,” said Carthers, who qualified eight wrestlers. “Now, all the kids get to rest up and get ready and train. They have time to heal up, strengthen up and be ready for next weekend.”
Moving the date of the tournament has also forced the GHSA to find a new venue, or multiple venues, to serve as host. The Arena at Gwinnett Center is not available due to prior commitments to its regular tenant, the Gwinnett Gladiators hockey team.
The GHSA says it is looking into other potential venues, though one scenario could see specific high schools serve as host. McEachern hosted the Class AAAAA championship in 2005, which was the last year the traditional state wrestling championships were spread amongst various high schools.
“I’ve had no communication from (the GHSA) and I don’t know what they’re looking at,” McEachern athletic director Jimmy Dorsey said. “Under these circumstances, I wouldn’t tell them no, but we could have home basketball state playoff games either of those days too, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
“We could only do it if we host one classification. We couldn’t do all of them, but, if they need us to host just our classification, we can accommodate.”
Lanier has a different idea.
“My assumption is they’re trying to secure a couple of venues, for three classifications at one place and three at another,” he said. “They could still try one venue for everything, but I really don’t know.”
“If they were looking at high schools, I think we would know by now. I did tell them that we’re willing to help. I let them know on Tuesday that, if it came down to it, (Allatoona) could host. I just hope they let us know soon.”
Carthers also hopes to hear from the GHSA soon, so the Blue Devils can make their preparations.
“School is closed next week, but we may have to worry about travel and hotels and getting checks cut,” Carthers said. “Without the staff here, that all gets more difficult.”