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College Township Looks to Shut Down Weekend Wrestling Tournament

by on September 11, 2020 2:56 PM

Citing state and local COVID-19 regulations and outbreak concerns, College Township officials on Friday were seeking to shut down an amateur wrestling tournament that is expected to draw more than 1,100 people from 12 states. 

Township Manager Adam Brumbaugh said in a statement that he and other officials believe the event will be in violation of Pennsylvania and township restrictions on gathering sizes and "clearly places this community in danger of further COVID-19 transmissions."

The Olympic Club Duals tournament — which features scholastic, cadet and junior wrestlers — is scheduled begin at 5 p.m. on Friday and continue until Sunday afternoon at C3 Sports, 200 Ellis Place, which is owned by Christ Community Church.

The tournament is scheduled to include 64 teams, each with 12-19 competitors and two to four coaches. The tournament also will require 42 administrative and security personnel and 33 referees on-site.

About one parent per wrestler and numerous Division I college coaches are expected to be in attendance.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health order limits indoor gatherings to 25 people and outdoor gatherings to 250.

College Township only learned of the tournament on Thursday. Brumbaugh said the township does not have authority to seek an injunction to stop the event but asked Gov. Tom Wolf's office and the Department of Health to do so.

"College Township does not begrudge the young men and women choosing to attend this tournament the right to compete or display their talents. Nor does College Township begrudge a beleaguered local hotel industry an opportunity to fill rooms," Brumbaugh said. "But now is the wrong time and place to be doing so. It is reckless to risk a super-spreader event and College Township is deeply concerned for the health and welfare of our residents and the residents of Centre County and disappointed that this event has not been cancelled."

The Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office could not intervene without being asked to do so by the administration, a spokesperson said.

"Local law enforcement does have the authority to take appropriate enforcement actions," a Department of Health spokesperson said. "The administration has reached out to the township to provide assistance in this regard."

State College police, which serves College Township, plans to issue citations and fines for any violations of state orders or the township's COVID-19 mitigation ordinance. The township ordinance allows for fines of up to $300 for each violation.

"We are aware of this large event and are prepared to take enforcement action utilizing College Township's COVID Restriction ordinance to cite and fine the site hosts and event organizers," an SCPD statement said "However, we cannot legally prevent this event from moving forward."

Curt Krazer, founder of the Eastern Pennsylvania-based Olympic Club Duals, said he believes the event will be safe and will benefit the region, adding that there will be "full protocols in place."

"My partner has done two of these events in the last month down in York and over in Lewisburg with three times the amount of people we have here in State College," Krazer said. "We have a full mitigation plan. We’re following CDC protocols with distancing, masks, temperature checks. Everything’s being done."

About 80% of the event will occur outside under tents, Krazer said. Temperature checks and masks will be required for everyone entering. Social distancing also will be required.

Parents, coaches and wrestlers will be required to be outside when the wrestler is not competing, which Krazer said should cut down indoor capacity by about two-thirds. 

He added that Christ Community Church Pastor Mitch Smith was "super-strict with our contract." C3 Sports did not respond to requests for comment.

Krazer said that participants were told to quarantine for two weeks prior and one team was barred from coming when one of its wrestlers tested positive for COVID-19.

The tournament, Krazer believes, will show how larger events can be done safely.

"The town could have more events and the economy will come back," Krazer said. "I think hotels will be thankful for that. I think the commerce will be thankful for that."

Centre County has had the highest incidence rate of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people among all Pennsylvania counties over the past seven days and has added nearly 600 new cases since the start of September, largely due to the influx and testing of Penn State students

Centre County Commissioner Michael Pipe said bringing the tournament to the region at this time is a significant concern and he was hoping for more guidance from the state on how it could be shut down.

"My question has always been at what point does an event become so egregious and flaunts the rules and regulations the governor and secretary of health have put out there that it gets shut down," Pipe said. "This is probably one of the worst. It’s disappointing the organizers are holding it without input from the community."

He added that C3 received $400,000 from the Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau (now Happy Valley Adventure Bureau) to build its facility, money that is allocated by the county.

"I can tell you that if C3 continues to do this they won’t be getting another dime from that organization," Pipe said. "We as the commissioners allocate the resources. I will be a strong opponent to giving them any money. If they’re willing to sacrifice the health and safety of community members, they’re not going to be able to use any of those funds."



Geoff Rushton is managing editor for StateCollege.com. Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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