Wrestlers take to mats after skin infections postpone tournaments

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PRESCOTT VALLEY -- Arizona high school wrestlers were back on the mats Friday after a health scare postponed their sectional tournaments.

The Arizona Interscholastic Association is taking extra precautions at the tournaments in Prescott Valley to prevent further spread of skin infections that have already sidelined several wrestlers.

Wrestlers were examined for suspicious skin lesions before participating in the tournaments, and they're required to wipe their shoes with an antibacterial solution before stepping on the mats.

The mats are being cleaned with ProKure, a disinfecting solution, after each round.

"Wiping of the shoes was a pretty good rule to put, too, because my shoes aren't clean," wrestler Devin Lamantia said.

There were hundreds of wrestlers at Tim's Toyota Center for the tournaments Friday, and the AIA is confident there will not be an outbreak of skin infections.

This is the first year the AIA is using ProKure, which was recommended by the National Wrestling Coaches Association.

"It's about two and a half times the strength of bleach, works about six to nine times faster, and you can spray it on your skin and it won't burn like bleach would do," said ProKure spokesman Jason Lipsey.

Although skin infections are not uncommon in wrestling, the recent outbreak put the AIA on high alert.

"There was an inordinate amount this year that we didn't really expect," AIA Executive Director Harold Slemmer said.

More than a dozen wrestlers in Maricopa County reported having skin lesions, which led the AIA to postpone the tournaments and ultimately reschedule them for Friday.

The AIA said three wrestlers were disqualified following Friday morning's skin checks.

“They weren't all happy ... but in the spirit of safety, we certainly will have to do things like that at times," Slemmer said.

"There's actually more protection at this tournament than I've seen at any other tournament," parent Phillip Grajeda said.

When the AIA announced the postponement of the sectional tournaments, wrestlers feared the state-qualifying matches would be canceled entirely.

"I was just upset about it," said Adrian Sixkiller, a wrestler with Tuba City High School.

"They've been training for 10 to 12 years to get to this point to win a state championship," wrestling coach Steve Wene explained. "To cancel that would have been unbelievably hard for hundreds of kids."

But once the wrestlers realized the tournaments would be rescheduled, they were more understanding.

"I think it was good because it was for our protection." Sixkiller said.