By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
Alan Fell’s wrestling career didn’t end where he wanted, nor in the way he had expected.
“My biggest injury, one that ended my career, happened after my fourth match (that season) during practice,” said Fell, a New Jersey native and the current Oak Hill head coach.
In this, the final week of the regular season, a question always presents itself to wrestling coaches around the state. With regional tournaments just 10 days away, is it more beneficial to wrestle one more time and conceivably stay sharp, or do you rest and avoid the risk of injury?
Schedules are finalized months in advance, of course, so the answer to that comes down to a philosophy. Area coaches seem to be split on the issue.
“We’re resting,” said Independence coach Cliff Warden. “We’re done until regionals.”
Count Warden among those who values taking the week off — at least this season. The Patriots competed at a tri-match in Bridgeport the week before their regional championship last season, but will stay home this year before hosting the Class AA/A Region 3 tournament Feb. 15-16.
“We did have a match (scheduled) but when you are that close to competing for a regional championship, a lot of times you worry about injuries,” Warden said. “We’ve got plenty of matches in.”
Woodrow Wilson, meanwhile, finds itself in a situation where not competing this week would be downright detrimental.
The Flying Eagles have not wrestled since Jan. 19 at the WSAZ Invitational. School cancellations each of the last two Fridays prevented Woodrow from travelling to the West Virginia Duals in Parkersburg and the MSAC Tournament in Parkersburg.
They finished in the top 10 at the WSAZ and seemed to have momentum going their way.
“It kind of hurts, especially in wrestling when you have kids watching their weight,” coach Street Sarrett said. “Then they can’t practice or participate and their weight goes up. That hurts the team.”
Shady Spring coach Larry Ransom understands both sides of the argument.
“I have heard a few coaches over the years talk about not taking the chances with injuries,” he said. “Normally, we take the week off, but this is a philosophy of building mental and physical toughness.”
The Tigers might enter the Snap Fitness/Bill Hughes Wrestling Invitational Tournament in Winfield this Saturday.
Woodrow will be able to shake off some rust this week. The team will host a tri-match at 6 p.m. Thursday against Nicholas County and Greenbrier West’s junior varsity team — the Cavaliers’ varsity team is taking the week off — and will go to Winfield Saturday.
Sarrett is among those who believe competing is the best option.
“You can’t play scared,” he said. “You can get injured in practice.”
Which echos Fell’s belief. His Red Devils will host a quad with Winfield, Wyoming East, Fayetteville and Richwood at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
“We always try to schedule a home meet between regionals and conference tournament to keep them a little bit live,” Fell said.
“I think (injuries are) more likely to happen at practice because they are not quite as keenly aware or focused.”
— E-mail: gfauber@