by Drew Eastland ’21 (he/him), Sports Editor
On Tuesday, February 16th, 2021, the Davidson wrestling team’s season ended abruptly due to a tier one personnel member testing positive for COVID-19. Since the required postponement period extended beyond the SOCON championship meet, the team was forced to conclude their season early.
Davidson Wrestling Coach Andy Lausier spoke about the disappointing end to the season and summed up how the team fared in competition.
“It’s just the world that we live in right now; our team has done everything right,” Lausier said. “I think wrestling is tied to discipline; when we ask our wrestlers to make certain sacrifices, they handle those things with absolute professionalism.”
Although COVID-19 has brought much uncertainty to the world in 2021, players on the team were still a bit blindsided by the sudden conclusion to the season. Junior Kyle Gorant spoke about the sudden change.
“It came out of nowhere,” Gorant said. “We were starting our last training stretch for like two weeks and it was just disappointing.”
According to Gorant, most of the wrestling team is in isolation or quarantine. Right now, the number one priority is ensuring the athletes who have tested positive get the treatment they need for recovery.
“Probably the biggest concern I have is that wrestling is such a grueling sport, and the way in which we train is so demanding, so I know that [the team’s] systems are somewhat compromised right now,” Lausier said. “We are making sure we keep real close contact; better-safe-than-sorry right now is the best approach.”
Players expressed difficulty dealing with the end of the season, but even more of a challenge adjusting to quarantine routines and their new college-mandated limitations.
“It’s a total change in my daily routine,” Gorant said. “Everything else is still going on; it’s kind of weird.”
The centennial season for Davidson wrestling included several ups and downs, with low points including an 0-2 home record and shutout losses to Campbell and Appalachian State. Head Coach Lausier highlighted the positive takeaways from the season. High points included a 22-21 comeback win over their budding rival, the Citadel.
“We had a great match against the Citadel; we were down 18-3,” Lausier recalled. “We found a way to come back and tie it up…at the end you go to criteria [to break a tie]; it was a super stressful moment, but obviously exhilarating at the same time.”
Lausier also discussed the discrepancies between certain sports and their COVID-19 protocols. Although it may be disappointing or even unfair to see some sports (basketball and football) continue playing despite repeated COVID-19 case rises, according to Lausier, the revenue-sharing model of the NCAA makes the money that drives the continued competition in these sports important for all the programs.
“I do think there is some discrepancy and some different focus; I think there has to be,” Lausier said. “March Madness produces in the neighborhood of $700 million; that money then gets filtered down across the NCAA across all sports and across all divisions.”
In other words, Davidson wrestling derives a benefit from these high money athletic events taking place.
Lausier went on to emphasize how a victory over the Citadel, the third win over the Bulldogs in four years, demonstrates the progress Davidson wrestling has made in the past few years.
The wrestling team will return with all but one senior next season and is welcoming a class of 10 first-year wrestlers next year. Although the season’s conclusion is disappointing to many, they emphasized that there will certainly be positive lessons learned and a hopeful eye turned toward next season.
“It’s obviously a little discouraging to not be able to finish their season,” Gorant said. “I’m happy that I have one more [season] to come back next year.”