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COVID-19 forces changes to TOC

Mark Schnabel
The Kansan
Newton sophomore Nick Treaster is ranked 16th nationally by Trackwrestling at 106 pounds. Treaster enters this weekend’s Newton Invitational Tournament unbeaten and ranked first in the state in Class 5A.

While it will have a different format and a different feel than in previous years, the Newton Invitational Tournament of Champions will go on for its 57th edition Friday and Saturday at Ravenscroft Gym.

About 22 teams are set to compete, although Newton High School athletic director Brian Becker said that could still change.

Weights 106 through 145 pounds will be wrestled beginning at 9 a.m. Friday. The remaining weights will be wrestled Saturday.

No spectators will be permitted, but the matches will be streamed on both the National Federation Network (all four mats at the same time) and the Newton Athletics Facebook page (one mat per feed).

“We’re going to be right around the number of wrestlers permitted each day by KSHSAA at around 112,” Becker said. “We expect that there will be individuals and teams that by Friday or Saturday won’t be able to make it. … It’s basically, for the kids, going to be a single-day tournament.”

There also won’t be any championship ceremonies or single-mat championship finals, which happened in some years when there have been weather concerns. All the medal matches will be competed concurrently.

“We won’t have the big pomp and circumstances this year with all the performances unfortunately,” Becker said. “We felt like this was the most effective way to do this and fit inside of KSHSAA’s guidelines.”

While in some brackets, it won’t be a problem, in the larger brackets, the consolation rounds may have to be modified to prevent wrestlers from exceeding their daily limit of five matches.

Becker said there will be some financial implications because of the restrictions.

“The TOC is a big fundraiser for us,” Becker said. “Between varsity football games and varsity basketball games to an extent, the TOC is one of the things that help fund our athletic department each year.”

There will be three out-of-state teams scheduled to appear — Seneca (Mo.), Stilwell (Okla.) and Blanchard (Okla.).

Mark Schnabel can be reached at mschnabel@thekansan.com