MPSSAA won't have to institute 215-pound division

Ruling keeps anyone above 189 a heavyweight

January 12, 2000|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

ROCKVILLE -- Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge James Chapin yesterday found that the state high school association's wrestling committee was not "arbitrary or capricious" in its actions and denied an attempt by attorney Robin Ficker to force the institution of a 215-pound weight class for this winter season.

The state's heaviest classifications are 189 pounds and heavyweight (275 pounds maximum). Ficker filed suit in late July on behalf of several parents of wrestlers. He argued Monday that "you can have a 190-pound, 14-year-old wrestling a 19-year-old, 275-pounder."

Ficker, who said he will not pursue the matter further, was requesting the immediate introduction of the 215-pound class into the county, regional and state tournaments. Assistant state's attorney Dana Murray, representing the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association, said that would have been "an extraordinary remedy."

"What we did was present testimony from the wrestling committee how it has thoroughly considered all aspects of the 215-pound class at every semi-annual meeting since 1994," Murray said. "The committee has piloted the class into tournaments to see what the interest and participation-level was, made sure they got reports on injuries.

"The judge quite correctly found that the committee was well-reasoned, well-researched and had really thought out its decision and still has not totally discarded the idea," Murray said.

Ficker said he presented about seven hours of medical testimony on Monday, including that from Dr. Geraldine Richter from Prince William County (Va.), and Dr. William Howard of Union Memorial Sports Medicine.

Ficker said Richter called it "criminal" to have wrestlers going against those significantly out-weighing them.

Among those testifying on behalf of the MPSSAA was Class 3A-4A state tournament director Jim Meehan of Montgomery County.

Meehan cited lighter heavyweight state champs, Sherwood's Graham Manley, winner in March 1996 and 1997, and Arundel's Jeff Blachly, a champ last March. "Background, conditioning, knowledge and technique are just as important as the size and strength emphasized by Ficker's side," Meehan said after the decision. "Blachly, in fact, barely weighed 210. They both proved that size and strength don't measure the ballplayer."

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