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Chesterfield High School

Covid-19 pandemic affecting Chesterfield wrestling season

 

By David Shelton

Senior Writer

Chesterfield – The Covid-19 pandemic has forced a lot of adjusting and changing for those involved in high school athletics in South Carolina.

The state made it through the fall sports calendar but not without hiccups along the way. The winter sports seasons have been even more difficult to get going as basketball and wrestling schedules are taking a major hit this year.

One of those affected by the virus is the Chesterfield High wrestling program. Coach Jeff Bland has seen a drop in numbers, some virus-related and some not, and the Rams have managed to get only five dual matches in this season.

One Chesterfield wrestler tested positively recently, which basically shut the program down for two weeks. Bland himself, along with an assistant coach, also tested positive for the virus. The program was put on pause until at least January 25.

“It has been a real off and on season and it has been difficult,” Bland said recently. “Typically we’d have about 40 matches in with our tournaments and such. We just haven’t been able to get going on a consistent level. I’ve got a bunch of young wrestlers and their lack of mat time has really slowed their growth. Hopefully we can load up with some opportunities over the last two weeks or so and give these kids a chance.”

Bland says his focus is not on how many wins the team can get but more on the individual improvement of each wrestler. The coach says he has no interest in competing in the state duals playoffs, should his team qualify. He says many coaches that he knows shares his sentiment that the individual state tournament should be more important.

“With the duals, so many teams have guys out or have to pause their season, it just doesn’t make sense to a lot of people to worry about the duals playoffs at this point,” Bland said.

Chesterfield has a handful of wrestlers who could end up with state tournament opportunities. Sophomore Dylan Trexler is a returning state qualifier at 145 pounds. Junior Nunu Brown was a state runner-up in 2019 and is wrestling at 138 this season. The lone senior on the team, JoJo McBride was fourth in the state a year ago and competes in the 113-pound weight class. Junior Jaleel McCormick is off to a 5-0 start at 195 pounds. He also was a state qualifier last season.

Newcomer Antonio Murphy, a freshman 132-pounder, is showing great potential but lacks mat time to further his progression, according to Bland.

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