Shelton wrestling coach Bill Maloney hoped for different decision from CIAC

Shelton wrestling has been shutdown for the season.

Shelton wrestling has been shutdown for the season.

Bill Bloxsom / Hearst Connecticut Media

Shelton wrestling coach Bill Maloney believed that wrestling had a chance this winter prior to the CIAC ruling with the Department of Public Health that wrestling is a high-risk sport during this COVID-19 pandemic.

“Wrestling coaches presented to the CIAC what we thought was good mitigation to their concerns -- limiting exposure, proper tracking. We thought we had done a good job,” Maloney said. “It’s tough. I feel bad for the kids, especially the combo football-wrestlers that lost out on two sports.”

The proposal also called for teams competing only in dual meets, two a week with tracing. There would not be a tournament. The CIAC guidelines limit wrestling to small group conditioning and non-contact skill building.

“When you look at contact tracing, it may be the easiest sport to do contact tracing in,” Maloney said. “I wrestle you and we have a specific cohort with maybe three other kids that we practice with. That’s the contact tracing. On a basketball team, and good for them playing, I’m going against eight kids from the other team and then practicing with my entire team. That can shoot down a season quick.”

There is a long-lasting effect to this pandemic.

“With wrestling being eliminated for a year it is going to be hard for a team like us that had smaller numbers last year to field a team next season,” Maloney said. “We aren’t football, we are not basketball, we are a wrestling team and we have to scrape the walls and hunt kids down to begin with. Now missing a year and with the COVID spread hanging over you, it is going to be tough to keep teams going. I’m sorry to say that I think you are going to see some teams in Connecticut that are going to fold.”

Shelton had three seniors rostered, including Mike Monaco.

“I feel really bad for Mike because this was going to be his breakout year,” Maloney said of Monaco, who placed 5th in Class LL as a junior. “I’m hoping he can wrestle in college. He has put everything he has into the sport.

“Wrestling clubs are now closed only for conditioning but maybe they will open and the kids can go on the mat in the spring and the summer.”

william.bloxsom@hearstmediact.com Twitter: @blox354