Arlington wrestlers

John Baker, top, won a region championship for Washington-Liberty last season and would have been one of the team’s top returners this coming season. (Photo by Deb Kolt)

All three public high-school wrestling varsity wrestling teams in Arlington County were looking forward to building on continued recent success during the upcoming 2020-21 season. That won’t happen now, because the winter grappling campaign was canceled by school officials as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The close contact of wrestling was considered too high a health risk compared to competition in other winter sports like basketball, swimming and dive, indoor track and field and girls gymnastics, which for the time being are scheduled to compete.

“We are glad some teams and winter athletes are getting to compete, we’re just sorry it’s not us, too,” Washington-Liberty High coach Daniel Morreale said. “We had some quality wrestlers back this season.”

Washington-Liberty won the the Liberty District Tournament in 2018, then placed third last season. The Generals were led by John Baker, who won district and region titles at 170 pounds. He would have been one of the team’s top returners, along with three others who qualified for last season’s state tournament.

High-school wrestling is one sport that for years has included a lot of sanitizing during practices and competitions.

“We were planning to emphasize even more sanitizing,” Morreale said.

The Yorktown Patriots are the defending Liberty District Tournament champions, having finished last the season before, and should have been a top contender again, with many returners.

“It would have been another competitive season for us, so it’s definitely disappointing,” Yorktown coach Andrew Adams said. “But at the end of the day, we have to make sure everyone is safe. So this is what we have to do this season.”

Adams said the team will continue to improve through offseason programs and workouts.

“We have a lot of good young wrestlers in this program,” Adams said. “So we are looking on the bright side, instead of hanging our heads.”

The Wakefield High wrestlers finished fourth in the National District last season, after winning the title in 2019.

A number of returners, plus some young wrestlers for longtime coach Jeff Humphries, who has coached several Wakefield state champions in recent seasons, were expected to make the Warriors a solid team again.

“I don’t understand the rationale behind the decision to cancel wrestling and why our sport was singled out, but our team will remain optimistic, use this as a time to regroup and improve for next year,” said Humphries, who became Wakefield’s head coach in 1993. “We have a lot of wrestlers who want to do well.”

No decision had yet been made when the week began regarding the wrestling season for the private-school Bishop O’Connell Knights high-school team of Arlington. O’Connell competes in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.

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