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Wrestling during a pandemic: how Milwaukee-area high schools are adjusting

Posted at 6:30 PM, Dec 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-17 19:30:57-05

Wrestling in a pandemic includes new equipment, so we checked in on a rivalry that will have a different look this year.

"Well, we have no other option," Oak Creek Head Coach Terry Nachtigall said. "I mean, these kids? They would wrestle in full PPG if you asked them to, just so they could have their time out here on the mat."

For some area high schools, wrestling carries on in a much different form.

"It takes some getting used to, right," Franklin Head Coach Duval Sino says. "A lot of kids are like, I'm just, I'm breathing cotton you know, for six minutes."

The first thing you notice is the masks.

"I mean yeah, it's definitely a hindrance, with the masks," Franklin wrestler Fahad Aziz says. "We already go pretty hard in practice, as usual. And with the masks, it's pretty hard to breathe. We're thankful to have a season."

"In practice, it sucks, like it's not as good as it was before," Oak Creek wrestler Luca Paladino says. "But as we're wrestling, we kind of forget about it a little bit."

And like most contact sports, the question comes up: How can you do it in a safe and healthy fashion?

"Right off the bat there, you know they put wrestling out there like it's the toughest sport to get this done in," Nachtigall says. "We've been doing things right. As long as you do things right, you know, you follow the guidelines? You know, good things will happen."

"We're like in pods," Aziz says. "So the contact tracing, everything. That's all, you know, we're keeping track of that. So I think we're doing a pretty good job. There's not much to worry about, because you know, we've had everything under control so far. Haven't had any cases on the team."

And with only one match per week, rivalries like Franklin-Oak Creek remain special.

"We came up on the short end of the stick. So it's always important. It's always important when you're you know, wrestling those guys, you know, on another side of 27th Street," Sino says.

"Six miles away, five miles away," Nachtigall says. "And every year, We battle."

"It's always special, wrestling Franklin," Paladino says. "Like, we always just want to win."

"Especially since it's my senior year, every match is pretty special. And we're not going to have that many matches this year," Aziz says.

Normally wrestlers can be in around 50 matches per year. This year, whether it's 6, 8, 10 or so, they need to make them count.

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