This week's National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Women's Wrestling Invitational in Jamestown won't be immune to precautions currently being taken nationwide to help curb the spread of coronavirus.
University of Jamestown Athletic Director Sean Johnson said late Wednesday fan restrictions will be put in place for the tournament scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. this Friday at Harold Newman Arena, but he said details of those restrictions won't be finalized until sometime Thursday (March 12).
"There will be fan restrictions this weekend but I don't know exactly what they will be at this time," Johnson said. "We will know tomorrow."
The announcement by UJ came shortly after NAIA President and CEO Jim Carr released a letter stating that the NAIA plans to limit fan attendance at all remaining winter championships -- including the men's and women's Division I basketball championships -- due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Both Thursday's NAIA Champions of Character event and kickoff banquet for the women’s wrestling tournament in Jamestown had already been canceled out of precaution.
"As a staff and as an institution, we've been talking about this for days and weeks because, obviously, it's been in the news and we're all concerned about it," Johnson said. "I certainly understand why we're canceling some of the public events, especially Champions of Character because we were going to have elementary school kids that were going to be in close contact with the student-athletes. There's no way to know if there's any risk at all, but, again, there's no sense in taking a risk when you don't have to."
The Champions of Character event, previously scheduled to take place at 2 p.m. on Thursday at Harold Newman Arena, planned to bring in local elementary school children to interact with the wrestlers. The kickoff banquet, which wasn't open to the public according to Johnson, was scheduled to take place Thursday between 5-6 p.m.
Johnson said teams were already in town and practicing Wednesday, and all coaches and organizational meetings will go on as scheduled Thursday. The second annual national women's wrestling invitational will wrap up Saturday, with individual champions qualifying for the upcoming USA Olympic Team Trials at Penn State University on April 4-5.
"The most important thing for us is to make sure the student-athletes have a great experience," Johnson said. "And, we're going to do that."
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