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Coaches take steps to protect

Prep Notebook

South Medford High head wrestling coach Ken Thompson checked over his wrestlers from head to toe twice last week, making sure they didn't have any skin lesions associated with herpes.

Over at North Medford, coach Bill Jones is having his grapplers rub on a coating of skin protector before taking the mat against an opponent who might have the disease.

It puts a barrier over your skin, says Jones of the foam substance that resembles shaving cream.

Thompson and Jones are using prudent measures to protect their teams following an outbreak of oral herpes that hit the Crater and Grants Pass wrestling teams in recent weeks.

A handful of Crater wrestlers apparently contracted the disease while competing at a tournament in Fresno, Calif., in mid-December, then spread it to four members of the Grants Pass team when they met in a dual meet four days later.

— Although the virus doesn't lead to other health problems or compromise one's immune system, it's highly contagious when an infected person is having an outbreak. It's clearly a nuisance and, worst of all, it has no cure.

Jones says he's told his wrestlers to wash themselves thoroughly after every match.

Behind the knees, around the elbows and neck ' anywhere hands have been grabbing at you, he says.

Good hygiene also helps prevent kids from picking up other diseases associated with wrestling such as impetigo and ringworm, says Jones, adding that every mat at North Medford is disinfected before every practice and match.

Coaches are also advising their wrestlers to wash their headgear and practice gear after every workout.

Eagle Point High athletic director Bob Bergen, a former wrestling coach at the school, also recommends that wrestlers have towels dipped in disinfectant near the edge of the mat during practice.

They should be wiping off their shoes before they walk on the mat, Bergen says. They're coming in there from the rest room and who knows where else.

As for the wrestlers themselves, they have varying opinions about competing against someone with herpes.

South Medford junior Adam Dezwart, who may be going against an infected opponent Wednesday when the Panthers host Grants Pass in a dual match, says: I'm a little spooked about it. I want to check him out real good while he's stepping on the scales (during weigh-ins).

A lot of us have concerns about it, adds South Medford senior Joe Zeigler. There's a chance we can get it, and even though it's a small chance, it's something that will stick with you for the rest of your life.

North Medford junior Chris Platt, on the other hand, isn't giving the outbreak much thought.

I'm not really worried about it, he says. If I wrestle someone who has it, I'll take a shower and not give it another thought.

Some of the kids at school are asking, 'Do we have herpes on our mats,' and I just laugh and say no.

WITH ITS INFECTED wrestlers treated and cleared to compete, Crater soared to the Oregon Wrestling Classic championship last weekend.

The fourth-ranked Comets won five straight matches en route to the title, including a 34-17 romp over third-ranked Newberg in the semifinals and a 32-25 victory over top-ranked Pendleton in the finals.

Crater trailed Pendleton 25-6 before reeling off seven straight wins to end the match, including falls by 160-pound Chase Maloney and 215-pound Cody Clark.

Phoenix finished as the Class 3A runner-up, losing 45-21 to top-ranked Estacada in the finals.

WORD OF CRATER'S forfeit to South Medford in a girls basketball game for using an ineligible player last week brought back bad memories for Eagle Point High baseball coach Tom Britton.

Twenty years ago this spring, Eagles standout pitcher Scott Baumer pitched two seven-inning, complete games during a 72-hour period, which violated an Oregon School Activities Association rule. The rules state that no player can pitch more than 12 innings over that stretch. Baumer pitched 14.

The Eagles had to forfeit their win over Mazama and wound up missing the state playoffs by one game.

It was a makeup game on a Monday, Britton recalls. Scott had pitched seven innings on Saturday, and in the back of my mind I was thinking the makeup game was Tuesday, which is the other day we normally play.

It was a mental screw-up on my part, and I've never forgotten it.

Crater's recent infraction occurred when one of its swing players logged four quarters of the JV game against South Medford and then two quarters of the varsity game, thus violating the five-quarter rule. The player inadvertently entered the game for the final 8.5 seconds of the fourth quarter.

Reach reporter Don Hunt at 776-4469, or e-mail