Wrestlers Balance the Risks and Rewards of Competing during COVID

With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the way we live our lives in many ways, one major thing it has affected is athletes and their sports. Some sports are not as affected as others such as cross country, where they can still run the same trails while being socially distant.

Other sports that are close contact such as wrestling have had to change their routines significantly to keep at their success. Junior Wrestler Dillon Mouser says their entire practice schedule has been altered compared to last year. “Last year, we used to be able to just switch partners. Now we have pods of 4 people , and we can’t drill, lift, or practice with anyone outside of our pods. Typically we practice with only one person in our pod until it’s time to wrestle each other for a live match.”


Mouser says they also had to split up into separate rooms. “Stations 1 and 2 are mat 1 , and 2 are in the same room but divided by a curtain. Station 3 is the weight room. Station 4 is mat 3 , which we moved upstairs. Sixteen people on one mat, and obviously we wear our masks everywhere except for when we are on the mat, and every time we switch stations we sanitize.”

Wrestling team members gather around a teammate to offer support before at match at the December 5 meet. Photo by Paige Moore

Practice routines aren’t just the only thing COVID-19 has affected. Varsity wrestler Evan Clayton decided to switch to online school to lessen his risk of exposure during wrestling season. “Online school makes it harder to get work done because you aren’t in the classroom learning first hand and you lack the motivation you would normally have in class,” Clayton says. “But it wasn’t a hard decision knowing I can maintain my grades and not risk missing out on a big part of the season,” he adds.


Over Christmas break, Clayton got quarantined, and not getting quarantined leading into sectionals was a big part of his decision. “I live fairly far from most of my family, but when I got quarantined over Christmas I was upset because I couldn’t go see my grandma, and that was pretty hard for me.” Clayton intends to stay in online school until he can finish up his season and the school quarter to learn the material easier and prepare for his AP tests.


The decision to participate in a team sport has affected some wrestlers at home also. Some athletes’ relatives have health problems that would put them at risk if they contracted COVID-19.


Even before COVID-19, being an athlete required making tough trade-offs. For athletes this year, the stakes seem more significant and the choices more complicated — but the drive to compete has not gone away

By Cameron Allen

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