North Carroll forfeits win over South Carroll

Two Panthers competed in JV, varsity on same day

High School


January 30, 2002|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

A mistake by North Carroll's wrestling coach will cost the No. 12 Panthers a chance at both the Carroll County title and the state dual meet championship.

The Hampstead team yesterday forfeited last week's 39-24 win over county rival South Carroll after the school realized that coach Bryan Wetzel used two junior varsity wrestlers in both JV and varsity matches on the same day, a violation of state rules.

"It's a rule that we broke," said Bill Rumbaugh, North Carroll athletic director. "We teach our kids to have integrity and accountability, so that's what we're going to have. We're calling this on ourselves."

The mix-up means that the winner of tomorrow's match between Westminster and host South Carroll, both undefeated in the county, will be the regular-season champion. If North Carroll had kept its victory and South Carroll were to defeat Westminster, there would have been a three-way tie for the title with the teams having one loss each.

The forfeit also puts the Cavaliers in contention for a spot in the Class 4A-3A state dual meet tournament, while all but eliminating the Panthers.

The top four teams from each region, based on a points system, qualify for the tournament. With the win, South Carroll now ranks third behind Mount Hebron and River Hill, and could sew up a berth with a win over Westminster.

With the win, North Carroll would have had an outside shot at making it, but would have had to defeat Frederick tomorrow and hope for help from other teams.

The infraction occurred Friday, when two wrestlers who had competed in JV matches against Century earlier that night, then wrestled against South Carroll varsity opponents. Both North Carroll wrestlers lost their varsity match.

"They started thinking about it afterward, and they started questioning what they did," said Bruce Cowan, the county's supervisor of physical education and athletics and director of the state wrestling committee. "I didn't get there until the varsity match, so I didn't realize these kids had wrestled JV."

Cowan met Monday with Ned Sparks, executive director of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association, to clarify the rule. The team victory is forfeited, but individual wins for North Carroll will stand.

Wetzel declined to comment. Though other area coaches have entered wrestlers in both varsity and JV matches during tri-meets over the years, the rule, which covers all sports, states: "Students may not compete in both a varsity and junior varsity team on the same day."

"The rulebook is very clear about that," said Ron Belinko, supervisor of athletics for Baltimore County, as well as a past president of the MPSSAA and a wrestling committee member. "There aren't any ifs, ands or buts - the rule doesn't exempt any sport."

For South Carroll, the decision was bittersweet.

"It's nice to get into that position, but on the other hand you hate to have it happen like this," South Carroll athletic director Jim Horn said. "There's a lot of empathy toward North Carroll and Bryan. It was a mistake, and everybody makes mistakes."

The appearance of impropriety is also a concern.

"It's not good for the schools and it's not good for the county, because we don't want people to think there's shady things going on," Horn said. "There was nothing shady here. It was just an honest mistake."

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