Forest Park wrestling coach Don Williams said the extra week of practice will help the wrestling entering the state meet next weekend. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
JONESBORO — Mother Nature is having her way, and it’s impacting the Georgia High School Association traditional wrestling tournament and region basketball tournament throughout the state.
The sleet, snow and ice that has paralyzed the metro Atlanta area and most of North Georgia has pushed the traditional wrestling championship back a week. It was originally scheduled to run Thursday through Saturday, but was shortened to today and Saturday.
However, because of precaution from the GHSA due to the inclement weather, the wrestling championships have been pushed back to Feb. 21-22. The tournament was scheduled to take place at the Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, but a scheduling conflict will have the location moved.
Prior to having all classification compete at the same location, each individual class was held at high schools throughout the state.
“I think the GHSA did the right thing to move wrestling back a week,” Forest Park wrestling coach Don Williams said. “The state has done a good job of taken care of the kids. Most have been pulling their weight all week.”
Jonesboro coach Gene Johnson said he is pleased with the GHSA decision for the postponement in light of the weather conditions.
“Having that extra week will benefit the kids to perform well,” said Johnson, who had three wrestlers to qualify for state.
While the GHSA continues to monitor the weather conditions, the regions have been given until Wednesday to complete their tournaments. An earlier proposal had the regions with a Monday deadline, which would have forced some teams to play twice in one day.
However, the GHSA has given the regions to Feb. 19, but has said that deadline might be extended.
‘’We just want to ease people’s minds so that they can relax, and even if they can’t get anything done until Friday or even Saturday, they don’t have to double up games,’’ GHSA associate director Earl Yarbrough told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday. ‘’We want teams to play their region tournaments as originally bracketed.’’
The concern from the GHSA was that some region would eliminate some of their earlier rounds to get their tournament over in time. In doing so, some team would not have the opportunity to qualify for state.
Most wrestling coaches say they like the idea of having the state championships on school campuses.
“It makes it special for each class to have their own tournament,” Johnson said. “The only drawback is that you can’t see the other classification championships.”
“I like when high schools hosted the (state) tournaments,” said Williams, who has won three state titles. “It would make it the only show for them. It was really nice.”
Locust Grove coach Nick Fordham said it would have been “rather difficult” for his school to pull off hosting a tournament of that magnitude with such short notice. The Locust Grove coach noted that, because of Winter break, most of the school’s custodians and faculty would be out of town, or unavailable to work the tournament.