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Amateur wrestling grappling with virus concerns, protocols

When it was announced that high school sports in Nevada would be crammed into six-week seasons in the spring semester and state championships most likely would not be played, USA Wrestling of Nevada came forward. It said it would host a tournament with all the state fixings should the usual one be canceled by coronavirus.

It was a noble gesture.

It also raised eyebrows, given wrestling is a sport that happens at a social distance that would make Tony Fauci recoil in horror.

When we spoke the other day, USA Wrestling of Nevada chairman Rob Cate was presiding over an age-level group tournament in Utah, where wrestlers were not allowed to shake hands per virus protocol.

“Wrestling is happening all over the country, but the safety protocols that we have for this are completely ridiculous,” Cate said.

“Obviously, wrestling is not very friendly to the concept of social distancing. But wrestlers, historically, are hyper aware of the transmission of diseases. We’ve been that way for decades. We operate in an environment cleaner than any other sport because we’re so aware of the process of transmitting diseases from one athlete to another.

”Frankly, we’re just better at it than anybody else because we’ve had to be.”

Perhaps you’d expect him to say that. But a Google search for “coronavirus” and “amateur wrestlers” failed to turn up a single case so far.

The hope is by February they may even be shaking hands again.

Around the horn

— A Padres season-ticket holder texted a photo Thursday showing Tommy Pham wearing a Golden Knights away sweater on the day the team returned to the ice in the Edmonton bubble. Which got me thinking that Durango High has put together a nice little list of athletic alumni.

There’s Pham, who smacked a three-run, ninth-inning home run to lift the Padres to a victory over Colorado Friday; and Ryan Ludwick, who made the 2008 MLB All-Star team with the St. Louis Cardinals. There’s also auto racing’s Busch brothers. Former boxing champions Ishe Smith and Jesse Magdaleno, and UNLV women’s basketball coach Lindy La Rocque, who played in four Final Fours at Stanford.

Her father Al La Rocque, who coached boys and girls basketball and taught typing to the Busch brothers and Pham, said he kept a poster in class that showed the infinitesimal odds of high school athletes making it to the pros. The inference: Pham should strive to strike the typewriter keys with accuracy, just in case his dream didn’t pan out.

“Fast forward 20 years at his (Durango Hall of Fame) induction, he calls me out,” La Rocque said. “He tells the story and says ‘Coach La Rocque, I just want you to know I made it.’”

— Speaking of Kurt and Kyle Busch, one should expect news any day about the new date of the South Point 400 NASCAR playoff race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway originally scheduled for Sept. 27.

In a perfect world, the race would be held in front of full grandstands; in a coronavirus world, LVMS officials are hoping that at least a percentage of spectators will be allowed inside.

— By now, Brandon Kintzler may have wished he had re-signed with the Chicago Cubs during the 2019 offseason.

On the bright side, the relief ace is one of only a handful of Miami Marlins who had not tested positive for COVID-19 as of Saturday. On the rain delay side, he was still stuck in his Philadelphia hotel room since being put into quarantine after the team’s game against the Phillies last Sunday. His infected teammatwes were sent on a bus to Miami on Friday.

Kintzler “celebrated” his 36th birthday Saturday, alone.

— It was 48 years ago Saturday that Las Vegas resident Nate Colbert got out of bed in Atlanta with a sore back, took 10 batting practice swings, hit 10 balls into the seats (seven fair, three foul) and was convinced by Padres manager Don Zimmer that he felt good enough to play in a doubleheader against the Braves.

He hit five home runs and drove in 13 in the two games.

This is what is known in baseball as having a day.

0:01

Eddie Shack was so popular when he skated for the Toronto Maple Leafs during hockey’s Original Six days that a song was written about him — “Clear the Track for Eddie Shack” — that reportedly went to No. 1 north of the border. (This was before the Guess Who’s time.)

Shack, who was 83 when died July 25 after a battle with throat cancer, also was the source of one of the all-time great hockey quotes.

After Chicago Blackhawks coach Rudy Pilous reportedly called him an illiterate goon, Shack scored a goal in a subsequent game against the Hawks. As he skated past the Chicago bench, the story goes, he famously shouted “Hey Rudy! G-O-L-E!”

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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