By RODERICK BOONE
THE JOURNAL NEWS
Former North Rockland wrestler C.J. Rodriguez learned yesterday that a New York State Supreme Court judge denied a request to overturn the controversial decision that stripped him of the Division I 135-pound wrestling championship at the state meet March 5.
Rodriguez, then a senior at North Rockland, was in the midst of celebrating what many thought was a 7-6 victory over Paul Florio of Section 2's LaSalle, when assistant mat referee Tom Fauvell informed head referee Tom Lynch that he was giving Rodriguez a two-point penalty for tossing his headgear. That deduction gave Florio an 8-7 victory.
The appeal was filed by the North Rockland school district soon after Nina Van Erk, the executive director of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, denied the district's request for an appeal on March 13.
"When I found out about a half hour ago I was like, '(Darn)' " Rodriguez, a freshman at Cortland, said yesterday. "Even the (head) referee said he was sorry. But to tell you the truth, it's not bothering me much. They did all that stuff, but I know, the kid knows, the ref knows, the 10,000 people there that night know. There is nothing I can do about it now that it's in writing."
North Rockland athletic director Joe Casarella wasn't pleased with the ruling, either. He didn't blame justice Thomas J. Spargo, saying the fault still stands with Fauvell.
"We just wanted to give the kid another opportunity, "Casarella said. "The judge did a nice job in his interpretation, but the referee still misinterpreted the rule. The state committee, I think, did not do the just thing. But the court is appellate. There is not much you can do."
Frank and Allison Rodriguez, C.J.'s parents, were both discouraged when they found out Spargo ruled in favor of the NYSPHSAA. Now they know their son will never be officially recognized as the state champ.
"I just feel for my son, "Frank Rodriguez said. "I know how hard he worked, I know his character."
Allison Rodriguez said, "Was his intent to be hostile or demeaning to the other wrestler? No, it wasn't. The rule, it's a judgement call by the referee. The kid trained for five years, and for years he wrestled flawless. It's disgraceful that this kind of thing can happen."