For the first time in nine years, the traditional state wrestling tournament will likely be held at various locations across the state.
The Georgia High School Association announced on Wednesday that this weekend’s state tournament at the Gwinnett Arena will be postponed to Feb. 21-22 due to snow and ice across Georgia.
“The biggest reason was the potential weather and athletes getting to Atlanta. We wanted to make it safe for everyone,” GHSA associate director Denis Tallini said.
2005 was the last time the traditional state wrestling tournament was held at a high school. Class AAAAAA was the highest classification at the time and McEachern hosted it.
“Having it at a high school is not the same as the Arena,” Archer head coach Tom Beuglas said. “I’m not excited about it, but at this point I don’t know any other way to do it.”
The tournament being held at local high schools is the most logical alternative, but the GHSA is also looking at venues similar to the Gwinnett Arena across the state. The Gwinnett Gladiators, a minor league hockey team, have home games scheduled Feb. 21-23.
“Nothing has been finalized at this time. We have some feeler outs,” Tallini said. “I hope to have something finalized by Monday. We’re hoping the sooner the better. We are considering possibly some high schools. The sooner we get it, the better for everyone.”
From 2006-2012 the state tournament was held at the Gwinnett Arena with every classification under one roof. The tournament was held at the Macon Centreplex last season. In 2011, weather conditions forced the state duals to be postponed until the end of the season at various high schools across the state.
The 2014-15 traditional state tournament will be held at the Macon Centreplex next year.
The state tournament was originally scheduled for Thursday through Saturday at the Gwinnett Arena. Once snow and ice hit Georgia on Tuesday, the tournament was condensed to Friday and Saturday.
Many schools systems in Metro Atlanta and across the state were closed on Tuesday and Wednesday and have been canceled for Thursday.
“Being out of school on Thursday, I don’t think anyone would have been able to compete on Friday,” Beuglas said.
Local school systems do not allow athletes to participate in extracurricular activities, so that meant no wrestlers were allowed to practice with their team all week. Under the condensed schedule, they would have entered the tournament with little mat time.
Now with the tournament being moved to next week it evens the playing field for everyone.
“Doing it next week, everyone has an opportunity to prepare and it’s fair,” Beuglas said. “We’re pretty disappointed, but I don’t see any other options.”