Ready for regionals


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The road to Chesapeake just got a little shorter. And, for some wrestlers, that same road abruptly came to a dead end.

Wednesday was decision day for area wrestling coaches and administrators and, as expected, all three area Group AAA districts have canceled their tournaments.

With that decision, teams now have one day to prepare for the Northwest Region tournament, which begins Friday at Franklin County.

Under more normal circumstances, the top four wrestlers from each weight class would have advanced to regionals. This year, the Cardinal and Cedar Run Districts will simply use their seedings to determine their part of the weekend’s bracket.

“To our district and the Cardinal, it doesn’t greatly affect things,” said Osbourn coach Ken Kratzer.

The Commonwealth District will do likewise, sending its top four seeds to regionals as well. Unlike the four-team Cardinal and Cedar Run, the six-team Commonwealth eliminates any chance of a lower-seeded wrestler getting hot and earning a regional berth.

On the flip side, the Commonwealth’s top four seeds won’t have to make weight on three consecutive days.

With the elimination of the district tournaments, the challenge now becomes getting ready for the trip to Franklin County on short notice.

“I think the kids were all OK with [the decision to cancel districts],” said Brooke Point coach Mike Smoot, who will send 12 wrestlers to regionals. “I think they just want to get a wrestling match in. We haven’t wrestled in three weeks. We haven’t practiced in a week. It’ll be interesting to see how everything pans out.”

That challenge extends to the coaches as well.

“The kids will probably be decimated, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was frustrated. But I’m supposed to be the leader,” said Hylton coach P.J. Pcsolinski. “I can’t sit back and reflect on what could have been and what should have been.”

Kratzer and his Eagle team was pointing towards the postseason as a guidepost. Since Osbourn’s team is much smaller than most in the area, the Eagles found winning dual meets a difficult proposition.

“[Districts are] an opportunity to test things out, see if they’re working and see if they’re meeting their goal,” Kratzer explained. “We want to go out and compete. As far as the bragging rights for the title, I could really care less.

“But we have to look at safety. And given the situation, any kind of training they would have done would have been on their own — at the Chinn Center, the Freedom Center, or shoveling a heck of a lot of driveways.”

One positive for the wrestlers is the weight allowance: At regionals, wrestlers will be allowed to be four pounds over the class’s weight limit on the first day. On the second day, wrestlers can be five pounds over.

Group A wrestlers have less of a concern about their schedules. The Bull Run District tournament will proceed as planned on Saturday at Manassas Park. Wednesday night was the seeding meeting for the tournament, and all the coaches were able to attend.

“Some of the other [school] districts will be out all week, but they’ve been given the OK to practice and they’ll be there,” said Manassas Park coach Richard FitzSimmons.

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