Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wrestling: NJSIAA decked on sectional reversal

You really can't make this stuff up -- or can you. Actually, that seems to be the case with the New Jersey Interscholastic League Athletic Association and high school wrestling.

In another head scratcher, the state's governing body of athletics rescinded invitations to several schools that thought they had qualified for the upcoming sectional tournaments. According to the state regulations, only the top six teams based on power points qualified and only those six could move up in position via head-to-head results.

When the wrestling committee reviewed the seeds on Tuesday, several No. 7 teams were allowed to jump into the top six based on head-to-head wins -- a rule that apparently was changed in 2009. Only someone forgot to update the regs on the NJSIAA web site.

As a result, several teams that were knocked out on Tuesday filed protests and the state, which reviewed its regs, decided it had to abide by what was printed and informed those teams that thought they were in on Tuesday that they were now out.

"We all seemed to pretty much be in agreement [in 2009], but we didn't make the change in the regs," said NJSIAA executive director Steve Timko of the apparent rule change to let the seventh- and eighth-place teams have an opportunity to move into the top six. "It hasn't been a problem the last few years. We saw this as a correctable error and did what we had to do. That's why we changed it."

How a rule change that supposedly took place in 2009 and has yet to be updated in the regulations in 2013 is mind-boggling to say the least. What's more, the state's site had multiple conflicting dates listed for this year's sectional cutoff and tournament dates -- as a result of an extra week being implemented into the season due to Lady Gaga's concert appearance in Atlantic City during the old state tournament dates.

As it turned out, Lady Gaga canceled and will be appearing at State College, Pa., that weekend.

Nonetheless, Timko was not aware of the state's site listing misinformation as of today.

"I wasn't aware there were multiple dates," he said.

Timko is the one getting hammered for this latest fiasco, and as the head of an association, that is warranted. But his wrestling committee, consisting mainly of eight region presidents, was just as inept on this one.

It's another black eye for the NJSIAA, which looks like it's gone more than 15 rounds in a heavyweight prize fight for its blunders over the years. Remember that weigh-in debacle in Toms River during the 2009 Group 4 semifinals, when Brick Memorial used an ineligible wrestler against North Hunterdon? The wrestler in question, Jordan Loiodice, competed at 125 after appearing on a highly illegible weigh-in sheet at 129.6.

Brick coach Dan O'Cone, who at the time claimed his wrestler did in fact weigh in at 125 -- claiming the 9 was actually a  sloppy 4 -- later admitted the wrongdoing in Atlantic City to then North coach Jason Hawk, whose team lost, 32-21. Check the photo of the weigh-in sheet on this blog.

Getting back to this sectional disaster, Timko said nothing is official until noon on Thursday, so there may be more changes in store before that deadline.

"We have until [Thursday] to make all of these corrections," he said. "I'm hoping not. We haven't heard from anyone else [as of 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday]. I think this was a correctable error. As for the future, maybe nothing gets [released] before we've had a chance to review everything."

The only change affecting brackets in the Open Mike area was Kennedy Iselin replacing Somerville as the No. 6 seed in North 2, Group 3. JFK will travel to No. 3 Roxbury, with the winner to meet No. 2 Warren Hills on Wednesday, Feb. 13.

As for the rule change to allow Nos. 7 and 8 to qualify with head-to-head wins, which was supposedly passed in 2009, Timko said it will be reviewed and voted on at season's end.

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