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MONTICELLO — Wrestling triangulars typically constitute just a portion of a high school team’s regular season. Many programs look forward to massive weekend tournaments before the grueling individual and team-state postseason series begin.

Not during this school year.

State officials’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic has eliminated everything short of single-day events featuring a number of teams that could be counted on one hand.

“They miss out on the camaraderie of ... other wrestlers they’ve met throughout the years,” Monticello coach Andy Moore said. “Now with the way everything is with COVID, we have to limit our contact. ... It kind of takes away from that social aspect.”

The Sages are among the first local programs taking the mat for the condensed 2021 summer season. Monticello hosts Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin/Armstrong-Potomac and Oakwood/Salt Fork at 5:30 p.m. Thursday inside Sievers Center.

It’s one of 11 triangulars the Sages will participate in prior to the season’s June 12 conclusion.

“It’s a relief, not knowing what the outlook was going to be,” Moore said. “Knowing they could’ve easily canceled the season because of the IDPH’s guidelines ... we’re all grateful we have a season.”

Of course, there are plenty of pandemic safety considerations that will require as much attention as who the next opponent is.

Only two teams are allowed in a gymnasium or other competition room at one time. Moore said the third team at the Sages’ home meets will be sent off to a conference room.

Athletes and coaches will be spread out, instead of side by side lining a mat while the wrestling occurs. And wrestlers must be masked unless actively competing.

But interest hasn’t waned too severely at Monticello, even with baseball and track and field seasons running simultaneously with wrestling. Moore said his roster size is in the mid-20s, led by senior Garrett Wilkin (138 pounds) and juniors Kaleb Reid (170) and Ethan Alexander (182).

“Even though they want to earn that state berth ... there are always other hidden goals they have as far as maybe getting on the (school’s) most-wins list or most pins, most takedowns,” Moore said. “My seniors, they’ve come to accept it for what it is.”

Colin Likas covers Illinois football and high school sports at The News-Gazette. He can be reached at clikas@news-gazette.com, or on Twitter at @clikasNG.

College/Prep Sports Reporter

Colin Likas covers Illinois football and high school sports at The News-Gazette. His email is clikas@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@clikasNG).

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