WVSSAC Grapples With State Mat Health Issues

WHEELING — A state wrestling tournament should not encompass three weeks. But that is what we now have in West Virginia.

The tournament should have come to a close Saturday night. However, a skin disease proved the catalyst for elongating the event to March 13-14.

That is unfortunate.

A motion was brought by the Wood County Board of Education on behalf of Parkersburg High School and Parkersburg South High School against the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission and Executive Director Bernie Dolan last week.

According to the injunction motion, “Officials were informed on Feb. 22 and 23 that wrestlers who had qualified were to be disqualified for actions outside of their doing or control.” According to the suit, one school in the Class AAA regional tournament had wrestlers in the 145-, 152- and 170-pound divisions infected with and had confirmed diagnosis of HSV1.

Althought the court denied the motion, the WVSSAC found itself between a rock and a hard place. It was blindsided at the 11th hour.

WVSSAC officials were headed to the court hearing when they became aware that three weight classes were impacted by the skin disease issue, not just two as originally thought.

“We found out Monday and Tuesday of last week that two weight classes were contagious in that regional. We did not find out until Thursday that a third weight class was impacted,” Dolan said in a phone interview Monday. “National Federation guidelines mandate that those contagious or in contact with those contagious be kept separate for eight days. That time period ran past the state tournament.

“We had three choices: Don’t let the infected kids and those in contact with them wrestle. Postpone three weight classes or postpone the entire tournament,” he added. “We opted to postpone just three weight classes. The timing was terrible. We could have proceeded if it was just two classes. We just didn’t know if that was the last shoe to fall.”

Dolan, noting the incubation period ends March 8, opted to resume the tourney March 13 for those three weight classes. The tourney addendum will be held in Fairmont, a more geographic friendly venue for the remaining grapplers.

As a result, competitors in the 145-, 152-, and 170-pound weight classes are being held hostage due to health cases emanating out of the Parkersburg South regional.

Team champions have already been decided. So that is a good thing.

Parkersburg South is the Class AAA champion while Independence is the AA/A kingpin. Wirt County was the top Class A scorer.

What is not good is that 48 wrestlers (16 in each weight class) now must refocus for their new dates with destiny. Quality coaches have their competitors primed to peak at the state meet.

Who knows what happens now?

These four dozen matmen must maintain their weights for three more weeks. Their training partners may have moved on to spring sports. The competitors themselves may be torn between wrestling training and a spring sport.

Not to be overlooked is the added expense that schools, family members and fans must now incur. A second tourney does present economic pain for some, if not all.

Local wrestlers affected are Brooke’s CJ Helms (145), Dalton Yost (152) and Colten Zombeck (170); John Marshall’s Jacob Berisford (152) and Chas McCool (170); and Wheeling Park’s Kaleb Simpkins (170).

I have no issue with Dolan and the WVSSAC. Dolan is a good man and a superb administrator. He had a tough decision to make, one that enables all state qualifiers to compete.

I do take exception with schools trying to use the courts for their their own benefit. It is refreshing to see the judicial system empower the WVSSAC.


Veteran sports scribe Kim North was honored as the West Virginia Wrestling Sports Writer of the Year Saturday night. It was a well-deserved honor for North.

He has done tremendous work covering the OVAC Tournament for many years as well as the state tournaments in both West Virginia and Ohio. It marks the second time he has received the prestigious honor.

The Troy, Ohio native started his journalism career at the Weirton Daily Times in 1983. He has also worked for the Steubenville Herald-Star; The Intelligencer; Wheeling News-Register and The Times Leader.

He won the 1990 W.Va. High School Wrestling Sports Writer of the Year while working in Wheeling. North is a widowed father of three and resides in Bridgeport.


∫ Speaking of the WVSSAC, I have never been a fan of the post-season basketball tournament format where a team can lose a game and still go on to win a state title. Case in point, Wheeling Park looked very impressive in downing John Marshall Friday for the sectional championship. Now, the Patriots play Morgantown which lost to Buchanan-Upshur. Should Park lose, the Patriots are eliminated and the Mohigans move on. Why not just make it a double-elimination tournament.

∫ Marietta College won the Ohio Athletic Conference men’s basketball tournament this past weekend. Linsly grad Anthony Wallace was a big reason the Pioneers prevailed. He scored 18 points and grabbed five boards in Marietta’s 83-74 title game win over Baldwin-Wallace. Wallace, who scored 28 points in the Pioneers’ quarterfinal win, was named to the OAC All-Tournament team.

∫ A successful hoop season ended in painful fashion for Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa. The Bearcats fell to Thomas More in the PAC championship game. Saint Vincent is coached by former Wheeling Park hoop standout D.P. Harris. The Bearcats finished the season at 21-7. Harris had guided Saint Vincent to the previous four tournament titles.

∫ Speaking of PAC basketball, Bethany’s Chaice Truex enjoyed a banner year. The St. John Central grad averaged 13 points and six rebounds per contest for the Bison. He was named the ECAC Division III South Rookie of the Week earlier this season.

∫ It is a shame Wheeling Park and Wheeling Central do not play in girls’ basketball. The two OVAC champions are arguably the two best girls teams in the OVAC this year. WesBanco Arena would be the ideal venue for the clash of powerhouses.

∫ Former St. John Central football and wrestling great Ed “Buzzy” Evans has been named the West Virginia Wrestling Official of the Year. Evans was also the former successful head coach at Wheeling Park for many years.