BY KEVIN WOODRUFF
With two local wrestling programs hanging in the balance, a pair of local school districts are working together to keep wrestling opportunities open to their students.
Susquehanna Community School District superintendent Bronson Stone said on Thursday that Susquehanna is currently in talks with Blue Ridge School District about a possible jointure of the two districts wrestling programs.
“We currently have a great relationship in the jointure of football and soccer with Blue Ridge,” Stone said. “And we’re looking to possibly expand that to wrestling.”
Stone said that Susquehanna currently has only six varsity wrestlers and nine junior high wrestlers, while Blue Ridge is also seeing a small number of participants turn out.
“We would like to see our wrestling program continue,” Stone said. ”
He noted that while he isn’t sure exactly why wrestling hasn’t seen the same amount of participation as in previous years, it may have something to do with total enrollment.
“Our school district enrollment has gone down,” Stone said. “And I’m not sure if wrestling has a large of a draw as it has had in previous years.”
If Blue Ridge approves the proposal, Susquehanna students would travel to New Milford to be a part of the Raider wrestling team.
“We have asked that Blue Ridge host the program,” Stone said. “They have a rich history of wrestling there, and we’d like for them to be able to keep that identity.”
Susquehanna’s coaches are currently in the last year of a two-year hiring contract, and at the end of this school year the positions would seize to exist if the jointure passes.
“It would be an ideal outcome for our students who wish to continue to wrestle,” Stone said. “If we didn’t move towards co-sponsorship, the program may end up eliminated.”
Blue Ridge superintendent Robert McTiernan said that preliminary response to the concept has been positive.
He said at a recent Blue Ridge school board work session, board members were receptive to the idea given the success of the football and soccer jointure between the two districts.
McTiernan said that he and Stone will be working together on the language of the proposal, and that it’s fair to say that the two districts fundamentally agree to the proposal.
“We have individual athletes that are interested in competing in the sport,” Stone said. “And we think it’s a win-win situation.”
McTiernan said that locally wrestling has been under pressure of low numbers.
“In both of our systems its been a problem,” McTiernan said. “And we have been very happy with our cooperative sponsorship with Susquehanna. Our student bodies has co-mingled well together.”
McTiernan said that the school districts may seek to consider adding more sports, such as golf, to the co-sponsorship agreement in the near future.
“If we can save programs and share costs, then its a win-win for both districts,” McTiernan said.
Blue Ridge is set to vote on the agreement at its Monday, Feb. 21, school board meeting, and if it passes, McTiernan said that there are hopes to have the teams joined together for the 2011-12 season.