February 18, 2010 in Sports

WV wrestler deserved fair ruling

By The Spokesman-Review
 

An unfortunate mistake by a coach cost his wrestler an opportunity to qualify for state last week.

Let me state up front that West Valley coach John Owen – whom I’ve known for more than 25 years, going back to his days when he was overseer of the top junior college program in the nation at North Idaho College – always has his kids’ best interest at heart.

Owen was the host coach last weekend when the 2A regional tournament was held at West Valley. He had his team come in for a brief practice Friday morning. He told his wrestlers to report back by 3 to weigh in.

By rule, wrestlers must weigh in two hours before competition begins. The tourney was officially scheduled to start at 5. But because there were a few pigtail matches, action began at 4. That meant Owen’s wrestlers had to be back by 2. But he told them to return at 3.

At about 1:35, Owen realized his mistake and started calling his kids. He had difficulty, though, tracking down Devan Silva. He finally reached Silva, but he was about 20 minutes away visiting his grandmother.

Silva scrambled to get to WV, but was delayed in traffic. He reached WV’s parking lot and was in contact with Owen on his cell phone.

By the time he stepped on the scales, he was about 30 seconds late. The referee weighed Silva but consulted with the head referee. They then decided to disqualify Silva.

Owen takes full responsibility for the error.

“It was my fault. I told him to be here for weigh-in at 3 and it turned out he was supposed to be here at 2,” Owen said.

It was an honest mistake. It wasn’t as if Silva was trying to lose weight at the last minute to make weight.

I’m a firm believer in rules. But I believe the spirit of the rules should be enforced over the letter of the rules. In this case, Silva, who won a subregional title the week before at 145 pounds and had a good shot at earning a medal at state, should have been allowed to wrestle. All of a sudden, because of his coach’s mistake, his season went up in smoke.

“We have rules and I understand that. But what advantage was gained by a kid weighing in 30 seconds late?” Owen asked. “We’re not talking about a kid being in a sauna trying to make weight and circumvent the rule. All I wanted to do was vomit I was so sick.”

Owen didn’t protest the decision, Riverside athletic director Marty Friedman said.

“It didn’t come to the games committee,” said Friedman, who served on the committee. “By rule he couldn’t wrestle. The head referee made the decision. It’s an absolute shame. It was very, very unfortunate.”

An appeal should have been made.

“No. 1, John Owen made a huge mistake and No. 2, (referees) made a huge mistake by not letting him wrestle,” Owen said.

Amen. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

•A couple of predictions. At the risk of blowing any credibility I may have built up in the short time I’ve been manning this post since Mike Vlahovich retired, I’m going to predict a couple of state titles this week.

University and Coeur d’Alene need to make room for state title trophies. U-Hi’s wrestlers will prove what most of us around here have known all year.

And the Coeur d’Alene girls basketball team will capture a third straight 5A state title.

You can reach Greg Lee at 509-927-2180 or 208-765-7127 and by e-mail at gregl@spokesman.com.


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