Virus forces cancellation of school's remaining wrestling slate

There are plenty of reasons for the cancellation or delay of regular-season wrestling meets. In Georgia alone, a single snowstorm delayed the team championships by nearly two months. Yet all those prior excuses seem a bit mundane compared to what Eastmont (Wash.) High is facing: The team has suspended the remainder of its entire season indefinitely because of an outbreak of HSV-1, the herpes simplex virus.

According to a report in the Wenatchee World newspaper, some 12 wrestlers have suffered from skin irritations, which are believed to be related to HSV-1, which is the same virus that causes the outbreak of cold sores.

"We're still learning what has to happen [in order for the season to continue] from the [Chelan-Douglas Health District]," Eastmont schools Superintendent Garn Christensen told the World.

While the school was still searching for ways to allow some of the team's wrestlers to participate in the postseason as of Wednesday morning, the Seattle Times reported that those efforts were effectively suspended on Wednesday evening, when the team's final two dual meets against Southridge (Wash.) High and Kennewick (Wash.) High were pushed off indefinitely, with the eventual likelihood of cancellations.

For now, the school seems to be focused on figuring out how to help students and parents treat and prevent the further spread of the virus. The World reported that the main reason why the season was put on hold was because of the disease's incubation period. HSV-1 bacteria can allegedly live on wrestling mats for anywhere from four hours to nearly two weeks, a period which means that the team's wrestlers who may have been exposed to the bacteria will be unable to make a safe and healthy return to competition.

The risk of health is a significant one, as well. HSV-1 can cause serious eye infections that lead to blurred vision, pain, light sensitivity and other side effects.

Yet all of those preventative measures will do little to ease the disappointment felt by a quartet of the team's stars who expected to do well in the state wrestling tournament, perhaps even fight for a state title. Seniors Joey Caron and Johnny Martinez were expected to contend at 160 and 215 pounds, respectively, and sophomores Darin Hardgrove (at 171 pounds), pictured above, and Fabian Wickham (at 103) also had a shot at deep runs in the tournament.

There's little hope for that now, or the school's planned hosting of the Class 3A regional meet on Feb. 12, unless further unforeseen disinfectant steps are taken.

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