Brycen Kowalsky of Mount Ararat/Brunswick, left, competes against Skowhegan’s Aiden Clark during a 120-pound match in the 2020 Class A state championship at Sanford High School. Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald Buy this Photo

The Maine Principals’ Association announced Monday that it was again delaying a decision on the status of a high school wrestling season in Maine this winter.

The MPA announced on Feb. 3 that it would make a decision on Feb. 22, but assistant director Mike Bisson — who serves on the wrestling committee — said everything is on hold unless the state’s community sports guidelines change. The state’s Department of Economic and Community Development characterizes wrestling as a high-risk sport.

Bisson also acknowledged he is “less optimistic” that there will be a season than he was on Feb. 3, but said the MPA is still hoping to arrange something.

“We’re just buying time (so that) hopefully as things change over time, things are constantly evolving, that it might allow for us to have a wrestling season,” Bisson said. “…Wrestling is a Level 2 activity, meaning they can do physically distanced practice only. Until that changes, nothing changes for us. We’re going to follow the state guidelines.”

Bisson added that the MPA wrestling committee will likely meet this week, “just to check in.”

“There’s always hope for a season,” he said. “…We’ve heard from a number of our coaches, saying ‘don’t cancel, let us continue to work with the kids, in the capacity that we’ve been able to work with them.'”

When reached Monday, some coaches expressed frustration in the process.

“I wish the MPA would make a stand, one way or the other,” Mt. Ararat/Brunswick coach Erick Jensen said. “I want the season to happen, at least some kind of competition for the kids. … I want to be fair to the kids, and say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ It’s frustrating, because you want to move forward and we’re not getting any clarity at all.”

Gardiner coach Matt Hanley said he was hoping for an update Monday.

Mt. Ararat/Brunswick coach Erick Jensen, top, hugs Brycen Kowalsky after Kowalsky won the 113-pound title at the 2019 Class A wrestling meet in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“I’ve been sitting around all day, waiting to hear,” he said. “I was hoping for a decision one way or the other. That way I could really let my kids know which direction we needed to go. … It’s still so up in the air. All my wrestlers are hoping for a chance to get out there and wrestle.”

Jensen, who’s from Wisconsin, said he’s seen his home state and others finish up postseason tournaments.

“All these other states are actively at it,” he said. “I think a path forward is there, but that’s for other people to decide. … We’ve got a pretty small, little window now to actually get the kids to have something. But it’s narrowing fast.”

Jensen said he’s hopeful to have some form of a dual meet season.

“I do share that hope. At least we can get the kids on the mat and be able to compete at some level,” he said. “That alone would be miles ahead of what we’ve been able to do now. Even to practice with each other would be helpful.”

Hanley said large meets, particularly conference and state championships, are probably unrealistic, but thinks a dual meet schedule could work.

“I’m hopeful that they can work something out for the kids, like they have with the other sports,” he said. “Logistically, the big meets would be too hard to do. The numbers just don’t add up. But they could run dual meet programs. … One team starts with one team, and the home team goes and relaxes someplace away from everybody, and bring another team in. Keep it local, like they have with the other sports.”

Hanley said he’s all right with waiting if that’s what it takes for a season to happen.

“I like coaching wrestling. I like being in the gym and coaching. I like that side of the sport even more than I do the competition days,” he said. “I miss that. … I’ll hold out as long as it takes.”

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