'You guys are all here doing something awesome, and this is what kids need to do'
REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Oregon's largest wrestling tournament is underway in Redmond, with meets going on all weekend.
Oregon Wrestling Classic Committee Chair Cleve Thompson said Friday it feels good to be back at the fairgrounds, despite the COVID-19 challenges.
“It’s a life experience,” Thompson said. “They’re having to deal with masking and all these other things, so it's really a good thing.”
This year, the tournament requires masks for anyone not actively wrestling, encourages distancing and sanitizing, and is only having certain divisions in the arena at a time.
“If you have symptoms, please don’t come,” Thompson said.
While the arena is full of wrestlers for the first time since 2020, there still were about 30 teams that couldn’t make it, due to some sort of Covid issue.
Despite that, there are close to 90 teams and 3,000 wrestlers competing, including boys and girls teams from Bend, La Pine, Redmond, Sisters and many other Central Oregon schools.
Bend boys Coach Luke Larwin says his team has done a good job of staying healthy.
“Really, COVID hasn’t been a problem for us -- quarantining has been a problem for us,” Larwin said.
The Lava Bears started the morning with a dual meet win over Clackamas, and hope to continue the success all weekend.
“You know, and with wrestling, anybody could be good at any time, if they show up and they compete how they should,” Larwin said.
But regardless of the result, Larwin is happy just to have the kids back on the mats.
“You guys are all here doing something awesome, and this is what kids need to do,” Larwin said. “And the value of extracurriculars and making sure that is being prioritized for students is crucial for us, to be able to keep moving forward with building the next generation of successful young people.”
Thompson, who has been involved in wrestling since the 1970s, agrees.
“I tell people that every day you get to be around wrestling or get to wrestle, you win,” Thompson said.