WEWAHITCHKA, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - High school sports teams are adjusting to the "new normal" after Hurricane Michael.
Seasons are continuing, but many programs don't have access to their usual facilities for various reasons--some destroyed entirely, others pressed into service to host other schools and events. So, now what?
They're getting by with a little help from their friends.
The third annual North Bay Haven Bash wrestling meet runs Thursday through Saturday. 14 teams will be present, including most of the ones from Marianna to Pensacola. The field includes, Marianna, Rutherford, Arnold, Bay, Bozeman, the hosting Buccaneers, of course...and the surrogate host: Wewahitchka.
"We lost all of our equipment in the hurricane," North Bay Haven coach Brandon Collins said. "We just invested about three thousand dollars into monitors, the TV stands, and everything. We lost all that."
The team lost equipment and can't host out of their gym. Neither Bay, nor Rutherford have functioning gyms.
They need this event, and not merely for the kids as competitors. "Bash" accounts for about 80 percent of the wrestling program's fundraising.
Running out of options, Collins called up Wewa coach Tracy Malcolm.
The Gators saved the day.
"[Malcolm] knew what the struggle was, and he hosts his own tournament, he knows that struggle as well," Collins said. "It was literally the last gym that we had available before we had to cancel it, and he said, 'we're gonna do it.' He's allowing us to use his mats that he runs his tournament on. He's allowing us to use his TV monitors, his program, everything."
Malcolm helped out at South Walton's Border Wars earlier this season as well, although the Seahawks were able to host out of their own gym.
Although this doesn't alleviate all of the long-term challenges the program is facing after Michael, Collins says if the event goes off without a hitch, it'll entice more programs from out of state to participate when things are closer to "the old normal" next season.
North Bay Haven Nash starts with a local round robin Thursday at 6 (weigh-ins at 5) and continues with the full field Friday and Saturday.