Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Wrestling: Klass out at Paramus before HP quad

With a tremendous day of wrestling looming this weekend comes stunning news out of Paramus as Steve Klass is apparently no longer its head coach. NorthJersey.com was the first to report that Klass was relieved of his duties on Tuesday.

Reasons for Klass' dismissal were not immediately known and an email from Open Mike seeking confirmation was not returned. Klass, a former Pennsylvania Class AA state champion for Wilson Area High School, is the second head coach in Region 2 to lose his job this season. Chris Bitetto, a former New Jersey state champion, recently resigned at Don Bosco Prep, ranked No. 3 in the New Jersey Wrestling Writers Top 20.

Paramus and Cranford, ranked No. 5 and 20, respectively, by the NJ Writers, and unranked Warren Hills are heading to High Point on Saturday for an independent quad. Wrestling starts at 10 a.m. in Wantage.

Klass, who guided Paramus to six sectional finals appearances and the North 1, Group 3 title last season, was in his ninth season at the helm. The Spartans finished as the Group 3 runner-up last season, and defeated Sparta, 29-24, in the sectional final.

Paramus (10-3) is currently the top seed in the North 1, Group 3 sectional power points standings. Additionally, there is an online petition to save Klass' coaching job, stating he is being asked to resign, though it is not clear when that petition was created. Klass recently said during a weekly wrestling show on NorthJerseysports.com that not everyone was happy with his coaching methods, including some alumni.

"There's still a push back even this year with the schedule and some of the schools I'm wrestling -- a few of the old-timers and a few people in the school ... why you wrestling out of the area?" said Klass, who served as an assistant coach at his alma mater under Dave Crowell, now the coach at Nazareth and a Lehigh Valley legend who is regarded by some as the best high school coach in the nation.

"I want state champs. If I have a kid who's undefeated, I think I didn't do my job. It's my job to have my best kids and put them against the best kids in the country. And if they're undefeated at the end of the year, they better be ranked top five in the country. Not everyone views it that way, but I do.

"And I'm also fortunate enough to have kids who can compete with those [national] teams. I would take a different view if I didn't have the kids. At some point, I'm a public school so it kind of cycles. I may have to pull back on the schedule a year or two from now or in a few years and build back up to it. It's not always the plan, but when I have the kids, I need to challenge them. I don't do the kids justice if I'm putting them into regionals undefeated and they lose first or second round."

Shore about weigh-ins?

A recent report in the Asbury Park Press sparked some debate this week when it was learned that a National Federation rule mandates that wrestlers competing in a multi-day team tournament with advancement to a championship must weigh in at the same weight class for all matches.

For example, if you check in at 108 (two-pound allowance in effect) on the first day, you must weigh in at the 108-pound class for the remainder of the tournament. Apparently, this rule was ignored in previous Shore Conference Tournaments.

"In the past we were not following the Federation rule," NJSIAA rules interpreter Roy Dragon said in a phone conversation on Tuesday. "If you weigh in at 108 the first day, but not the second day, you are ineligible."

This rule, however, does not apply to the upcoming sectional and group championships. There is a waiver in the Federation handbook that leaves it up to the state associations as how it wants to handle those weigh in procedures.

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