Penn State wrestling program postpones season opener because of positive COVID-19 results

JON SAUBER
Centre Daily Times (TNS)
Penn State's wrestling head coach Cael Sanderson has led his team to six national titles in the last seven years. Now he's agreed to a new long-term deal to stay with the Nittany Lions.

Penn State wrestling will have to wait — even longer — to make its 2020-21 season debut.

The Nittany Lions announced Wednesday that their season opener with Rutgers, originally set for Saturday afternoon, has been postponned due to positive COVID-19 results in their Tier 1 personnel (players, coaches, match day staff and others). They were set to take on the Scarlet Knights Saturday afternoon.

The program announced the decision with a release and said it will work with Rutgers and the Big Ten to reschedule the dual.

"The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and the broader community are of the utmost importance," the program said in a release. "Therefore, as part of the protocols established by the Big Ten Conference and Penn State Athletics medical staff and in consultation with university, local and national officials and guidelines, individuals with a positive test have been put into isolation. In addition to isolation, contact tracing procedures have been implemented, which includes quarantine and testing for those individuals who might have been exposed, even if asymptomatic."

Athletes who test positive have to sit out competition fora minimum of 17 days but added flexibility — including the addition of extra matches at duals — will still make it possible for wrestlers to qualify for NCAAs.

"Say you miss the Big Ten tournament, you can still apply and get a wild card to nationals, but you have to have four matches to qualify for a wild card right now," coach Cael Sanderson said on Tuesday. "So, assuming that there's going to be missed matches, unfortunately, because of COVID, this just gives you the chance to get more starters four matches. Because, a positive COVID test and you're missing 17 days minimum."

The Nittany Lions are set to have three contests in that window, with two coming in a tri-meet scheduled for Jan. 30.

No decision has been made on matches that are scheduled beyond the Rutgers match.

The postponement comes just over a week after Penn State men's basketball went on pause due to positive COVID-19 test results in its Tier 1 personnel. That program rescheduled two of its four postponed games earlier today.