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Avon wrestling searching for co-op partner

AVON — Despite talks with a pair of options for co-oping, Avon High School returning to the wrestling mat looks to be on hold.

Tom Culver, the school’s athletic and activities director, said Bon Homme/Scotland and Wagner are each talking about the possibility of co-oping with Avon, but he is not expecting those partnerships to work out.

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“I would not blame them both if they didn’t,” Culver said. “Both teams, if they took us on would be in Class A. Those wrestling programs have been around a long time and have built rivalries in Class B and I understand not wanting to compete against the Sioux Falls schools and others.”

For Wagner or Bon Homme/Scotland to take on a co-op with Avon would result in the team being bumped from the lower Class B to Class A, which is home to the largest schools in South Dakota.

“We were definitely going to listen to them, but when I started doing the current ADM (average daily memberships) numbers we would be at 246, pushing us into Class A,” Bon Homme athletic and activities director Mike Duffek said about adding Avon to the school’s already established co-op with Scotland.

Schools or co-ops with an ADM of 225 or more are classified in Class A for wrestling by the South Dakota High School Activities Association, while every team lower than 225 is in Class B.

Culver said Bon Homme/Scotland and Wagner are the only two teams that have been contacted so far about the idea of a co-op with Avon, and there is no rush for the Pirates to start competing in high school wrestling. The interest in the sport in the town is coming from the youth programs, with an estimated 10 kids competing right now.

“It’s not something urgent that we need to do next year, but maybe in two, three, four years, the numbers will work out for us to do it,” Culver said.

Avon has not competed in wrestling since the mid-1970s, according to Culver, who said the program was lost due to participation and a number of open weight classes at the time.

Culver said the interest in starting the program was spurred by some people in the community asking about the possibility. At a meeting with sixth-grade through 11th-grade boys, Culver estimated 20 kids showed an interest in wrestling.

“Interest and actual participation are two different things, especially with all of the activities going on during wrestling season,” Culver said.

For the program to start in the 2014-15 season, Culver believes a request for a co-op would have to be made by August, adding he did not dig deep into the process without having a committed school to co-op with.