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Baton Rouge High's Jarin Meyer, left, and Catholic High's Macullen Mire wrestle in the finals of the 182 weight class during the City Wrestling Tournament, Saturday, February 1, 2020, at Catholic High in Baton Rouge, La.

Believe it or not, there are things to celebrate before Monday — the day LHSAA teams from across the state are supposed to get their first chance to practice since mid-March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The executive committee’s decision to move the LHSAA’s wrestling tournament to Baton Rouge and the Raising Cane’s River Center is one of the most significant decisions made in recent years.

Wrestling? Really? Yes, really.

For many schools, this is a matter of dollars and cents. For the rest of us, it also comes down to common sense.

None of this is a knock on the CenturyLink Center and the organizers in Bossier Center, which hosted the LHSAA’s wrestling tournament in recent years.

The event struggled to attract broad-base fan support. Why? The majority of LHSAA wrestling schools are in south Louisiana. One thing none of us can change is geography.

Distance alone is enough to keep some, including grandparents and other relatives, away. Having the tournament in BR puts it between New Orleans and Lafayette and makes it close for enough relatives and former wrestlers to make a drive.

Years ago, it was feasible to spread the LHSAA events around the state, perhaps event rotating them. Having the tourney in the Shreveport area for multiple years has been a financial hardship for multiple wrestling schools.

A coach told me it was around $6,000 a year to make the trek to Bossier. That total is not easy for some schools to muster.

With all this said, all eyes will be on Baton Rouge as it prepares to host an LHSAA wrestling tournament for the first time since 1993 next February. First impressions mean a lot.

C’mon Cristobal

We know Monday is supposed to be the day LHSAA schools get to workout for the first time since mid-March. And now it looks like Tropical Storm Cristobal is expected to impact those plans.

As I said in a social media post earlier this week, a tropical storm or hurricane now is like Mother Nature piling on. We’ve had the COVID-19 pandemic, economic turmoil and now this. FYI, not counting murder hornets because I haven’t seen them … yet.

God bless school personnel, coaches, athletes and parents as we embark on a pandemic-driven path none of us have ever seen. Now we must wait to see if Day 1 is Monday or another day. Frustrating.

Hooray for Hammond

The LHSAA’s girls basketball tournament is bouncing back to Hammond and SLU’s University Center for the first time since 2017. For a decade (2001-11), SLU was synonymous with LHSAA girls basketball, setting attendances records and taking advantage of the area’s grass-roots love of the sport.

Some of the tourney’s best memories for BR teams were made then. Facility upgrades will be a plus. The fact that the tourney is pared down to include 28 nonselect schools will help.

Hammond (girls) and Lake Charles (boys) were in the unenviable position of pivoting from the traditional 28-team tourney one year to 48 the next in 2017. That move put much more pressure on LHSAA staff and organizers, who rely so much on the help of volunteers.

LHSAA laws & order

Multiple sports have been “reported” to be in violation of the LHSAA’s practice ban that runs until June 8 and that has caused quite a stir. A total of approximately 50 schools are mentioned.

There are a few key points to note — starting with the distinction of a school “being reported” and a possible report on sanctions. These two things do not necessarily go hand-in-hand. The major point to watch for is evidence.

Another school or coach can “report” a violation. Those reports do happen, but schools are sometimes reluctant to turn each other in. The fact that parents reached out to question workouts is notable, citing “consequences” for athletes who don’t participate adds a wrinkle.

The LHSAA has been criticized for years because it did not check into complaints by those not affiliated with schools. So far, there is video/photo evidence submitted on four out of 17 football schools reported. No evidence submitted on other sports.

The LHSAA has requested evidence to back up other reports and is waiting. Some claims are quickly debunked by two  reasons. Independent teams can work out at schools, so what looks like a school practice may not be.

Also, players can work out on their own without coaches present, using a suggested workout by coaches. Yes, this is another wait-and-see proposition.


Email Robin Fambrough at rfambrough@theadvocate.com