H.S. wrestler says he got herpes from mat, wants tournament postponed

It's been a terrifying ordeal for one South Bay family, after their star student athlete was diagnosed with a form of herpes that's left lesions on his face. They said, he contracted it after a Central Coast Section high school wrestling tournament at Independence High School in San Jose back on Feb. 19.

The family now wants the weekend's state wrestling championships to be postponed.

17-year-old Blake Flovin said he started getting symptoms after competing at the CCS tournament. He believes he got the skin infection from another wrestler or a wrestling mat.

Wrestling is Flovin's passion. However, the high school senior said he'll likely never step onto a wrestling mat again after he was diagnosed with a viral skin infection.

"I never thought from wrestling I could get this, but now that we are researching and finding out it's actually a fairly prevalent thing in wrestling which is herpes gladiatorum," said Blake Flovin.

Flovin, a student at Archbishop Mitty High School, came into close contact with five other wrestlers. Days later, he experienced itching and a rash.

"The left sides of my face by my lymph nodes started to swell," said Blake Flovin. "It grew on the side of my face."

He shared pictures from when the infection was at its peak. Four doctors later, after a skin culture, doctors determined it was herpes gladiatorum known as mat herpes, common among athletes. His parents are heartbroken.

"To go from a phenomenal senior year to top of your game to having your face look like the elephant man is horrific," said Father Rick Flovin.

"It's sad," said Mother Rena Flovin. "It makes me angry that this was preventable."

Before Blake was diagnosed, he competed in another match the week after with at least eight other wrestlers who will now be competing at this weekend's high school state championships in Bakersfield.

"We have our policies and procedures in place per the national rules that wrestlers are not allowed to participate if they have any identified skin lesions and that's where doctors will do groom checks Friday and Saturday, prior to the tournament," said Rebecca Brutlag, a spokeswoman with the California Interscholastic Federation.

Brutlag said the tournament is going on as planned and has not heard of any other athletes contracting herpes.

Blake's family is furious, saying the tournament is putting students at risk.

"The most important thing here is kid's health and that's my main message," said Blake Flovin. "Try and put this above everything else."

The family is working with a lawyer who is trying to get a court injunction to stop the state championships. It's unlikely given it's two days away so they're hoping that by sharing their story other families will be informed and know the risks.