In a typical school year, the high school wrestling season would have finished in December. That’s not the case this school year where nothing is normal.
At its December meeting, the Alaska Schools Activities Association moved the start date for wrestling to March 15, with the state championship meet to be held May 21-22.
“They are just trying to do whatever they can to try to make it happen, figuring the further out they move, the better chance and possibilities that it can happen,” Kodiak activities director Debbie Rohrer said.
Wrestling joins baseball, softball, track and boys and girls soccer on the spring sports calendar, making it a busy time of the year for Rohrer.
“With one airline flying to town, it certainly is going to make it pretty challenging,” she said.
If it feels like Kodiak wrestling hasn’t competed in a year, that’s because it hasn’t. The last time the Bears took to the mat was December 2019 when the girls, led by Emily Lorring, Olivia Troxell and Hanna Finley, placed fifth at the state championship meet.
Lorring, who signed a National Letter of Intent to wrestle for NAIA University of Providence, was second at 135 pounds, while Troxell (119) and Finley (160) both placed third in their weight classes.
The boys were represented at state by Garritt Roberts, Gage Lorring, Orion Harper and Dylan Zurflueh.
Basketball around the state tips on Monday as teams start practicing. Games can begin on Jan. 22, with the 3A/4A state tournaments set for March 24-27 and the 1A/2A dance from March 31 to April 3.
The hoops season in Kodiak is still taking shape. Today, Rohrer has a Region III meeting to discuss what the season will look like with other activities directors.
During the fall, school districts on the Kenai Peninsula and the Mat-Su Borough choice to have only district-only competition. That affected Kodiak since Region III consists of schools in both those districts.
“It depends on the other districts and what they are going to allow and what they are not going to allow,” said Rohrer on Wednesday. “The plan right now is to start practicing on Monday.”
What will practices look like? Rohrer said she submitted a mitigation plan to the superintendent that would allow up to 24 players in the gym.
Currently, preseason workouts are limited to six players and three coaches. Masks are required, no running is allowed and only one player per hoop.
The baseball classifications will look different this season.
There will be two classifications for the first time in Alaska — Division I (851-plus students) and Division II (850 and less students). The new conferences were supposed to roll out last spring, but the season was canceled due to COVID.
Kodiak falls in the Division II Southcentral Conference with Homer, Houston, Kenai, Grace Christian, Palmer and Soldotna.
Wasilla and Colony — both members of the old Southcentral Conference — are now in the Division I Mid-Alaska conference with West Valley and Lathrop. Wasilla opted up to play in Division I.
The Division II Mid-Alaska conference features North Pole, Hutchison, Monroe, Eielson and Delta, while Petersburg is the only member of the Division II Southeast Conference.
The Division I Southeast Conference fields Juneau, Thunder Mountain, Ketchikan and Sitka. The Division I Cook Inlet Conference features Bartlett, Chugiak, Dimond, Eagle River, East Anchorage, Service, South Anchorage and West Anchorage.
ASAA director Billy Strickland told KTUU that change is good for the growth of baseball in Alaska.
“We think splitting baseball might encourage more small schools to get involved because you are not going to be asked to compete with schools that may be four or five times your size now,” Strickland told KTUU. “So we are hoping we are going to see some growth in baseball in the Southeast and maybe some other communities that haven’t played it in the past that might start a new activity.”