Barring any COVID-19 disruptions, a wrestling program for Warren County Public Schools students will launch next month after the district’s school board took action Monday to approve the offering.

The program will be open to middle and high school students.

The local program is spurred by new wrestling programs in school districts across Kentucky and northern Tennessee, along with growing popularity locally.

WCPS Athletic Director Eric Wilson said the district is searching for a program coach. The program will function much like the district’s swim team, with individual members representing their school but competing on a single team.

“We decided that we would give it a shot and see if it’s something we can do,” Wilson said in an interview Wednesday. “Warren County Public Schools is all about student opportunities, and this is just another athletic opportunity for students …

“We wanted to make sure that they were able to compete in the KHSAA (tournament) and compete for a state championship,” Wilson said. “That’s one of the reasons why we went ahead and made it a school sport.”

For years now, there’s been some level of community support for adding a program, Wilson said, but not quite enough to make the program viable. That factor, coupled with a lack of relatively nearby programs to compete with, were obstacles to the program’s development.

That’s changing however with the growing popularity among WCPS students of the SOKY Wrestling Club, which is unaffiliated with the district, Wilson said. Nearby programs have also sprung up in Elizabethtown, Hopkinsville, Owensboro and northern Tennessee, he said.

Participation in the program is co-ed, provided students qualify for the weight class in which they’re competing, Wilson said. A partnership with the Mid-South Conference means the school district will be able to use specialized wrestling mats that would otherwise be expensive for the district to purchase, Wilson said.

“We think there’s enough interest now,” Wilson said. “We know that with the students that are participating in the club we definitely have enough to give it a shot and see where it takes off.”

That said, the program does face some lingering hurdles in getting off the ground, including competing for space as a winter sport, and the coronavirus pandemic’s complications for high-contact sports, Wilson said.

“The state so far has set Nov. 1 as the start date, but that’s pending everything that’s going on,” he said. “They’re optimistic about that, but I think in reality they’re not sure that it’s going to be able to go this year or not, especially when we see the cases starting to increase now again throughout the state. It kind of puts that in jeopardy, but we’re going to hold out hope that we can start this program on time in November.”

– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @BGDN_edbeat or visit bgdailynews.com.

Education reporter. Covers education and related issues, focusing primarily on the Bowling Green and Warren County public school districts and Western Kentucky University.

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