JIM PETERS: The wrestling show must go on, weather or not

2014-02-06T17:00:00Z 2014-02-07T01:14:10Z JIM PETERS: The wrestling show must go on, weather or notJim Peters Times Columnist nwitimes.com
February 06, 2014 5:00 pm  • 

When the email from Indiana High School Athletic Association Assistant Commissioner Robert Faulkens arrived in Jim Wadkins' inbox before last week's sectional, the contents came as a surprise to Calumet's wrestling coach.

"I've been around 35 years, and I'd never seen a contingency plan," Wadkins said.

The memo cited guidelines for tournament hosts on what to do should there be a weather issue. Like every sport, wrestling has been hampered by the unrelenting snow and cold, but the length of its events puts the postseason schedule in a unique, don't postpone unless a state of emergency is declared, situation.

"There's less leeway with wrestling," Faulkens said. "It's more difficult to reschedule. It would take two (weekdays), and most schools don't have that time to devote to it. You can't start at 4, because you can't get everybody there, and you can't start at 6, because you can't have them wrestling at midnight. It's tough on the administration, and it's tough on the kids."

While last Saturday's prep sports schedule was largely wiped out, the area's four wrestling sectionals gutted it out.

"Attendance was down, but everybody was there. Everybody had a chance to compete," Faulkens said.

The most eyebrow-raising aspect of the plan is a stipulation that allows tournaments to be held as long as 50 percent of the participating schools get there. In theory, if Gelen Robinson couldn't have gotten to East Chicago or Stevan Micic to Crown Point, the defending state champions would've been done. Thankfully, it didn't come to that. As stunning as the prospect sounds, Faulkens said nothing that drastic has ever occurred.

"In 1978, I was at South Bend LaSalle, and our team couldn't get to LaPorte," Faulkens said. "The school didn't provide transportation. Guys drove themselves over."

Similar parameters were given in 2004 when an ice storm hit the Richmond area, but Faulkens doesn't recall anyone not making it, one way or the other.

"We want to leave the decision in the hands of the site management," he said. "Now if the state police say there's going to be a $250 fine to be on the road, then you better cancel. If the superintendents get together and decide it's not in the best interests to go, then don't do it, reschedule."

Crown Point Athletic Director Bill Dorulla said in an email they plan to run their regional with no delays. Because the range of teams in the Calumet Regional isn't as extensive as most locations, Wadkins isn't sweating it.

"It's Northwest Indiana; it snows, man," he said. "I'm not going to worry about it until it happens. I'm more concerned with Track Wrestling than I am with the snow. We're not going to pressure anybody to get here. We'd hold off. If we were to have to start at noon or 1, we're out of the gym by 6 or 7. I'm pretty confident we'll get it in."

A postponement is a resort no one wants to face. From an administrative standpoint, a midweek finish puts the squeeze on semistates to get brackets prepared. As a coach, Wadkins hates the idea of a Monday restart.

"The person who made up that plan didn't have kids who had to make weight," he said. "Kids aren't going to go home and go to the health club. They're going to go eat. They say we can't practice Sunday, so you're going to have kids who are overweight all over the place, even with the two-pound allowance. I'd hate to have to make it up before Tuesday."

Snow is in the Saturday forecast. Keep your fingers crossed.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at james.peters@nwi.com.

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