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Cincinnati Wrestling Team Gives Back To Community

January 13th, 2010 by Tom

CINCINNATI -- It would be great to have someone shovel your driveway for free.

On Thursday, a small group of teens who call themselves the "Winton Woods Weather Warriors "wrestled the elements to say thank you.

"This is just going to be a workout day, "said Winton Woods High School senior Pryde Geh. His classmate, Lonzi Murphy, agreed. "You gotta work hard if you want to get better."

Both are members of the Winton Woods wrestling team. Their coach, Chris Willertz, said it's about discipline and hard work. "They can burn some calories and make weight and do something for the community, "said Willertz.

Willertz explained the service project is directly about giving thanks. The Winton Woods City School District tried to pass a levy for years. Yet, election after election, they failed. This August, the district adopted a "pay to play "policy and the wrestling team had to fend for itself.

The team tried to earn money through a fundraiser by selling cookie dough. "We tried our best to sell the cookie dough, but we didn't sell a lot, "explained Murphy. "We sold as much as we could."

The goal was lofty. Each boy needed to earn $240 from the sale. Coach Willertz went directly to the residents and business owners. "I wrote letters to people in the community and said, 'Is there a way you could adopt a wrestler and pay some of the money? "asked Willertz.

In return, the squad performs community service by shoveling snow for free in their neighborhoods. In all, the team received $1,700 for the program. The team made its first installment before noon on Thursday. Later in the day several of them went to a voluntary practice. Afterwards, they were back out in the snow. Geh said he had a goal. "I'm trying to get at least 10 houses on my street."

Murphy was grateful for the opportunity to wrestle and to give back. "I like being out here in the snow. It gives us a little work out too. Like for our arms and stuff and just to help out. Makes me feel good."

Do you know of a team that has accomplished a similar feat? Let us know in the comment section below or email me at [email protected] - http://www.wcpo.com

Lackey, Hand Put On Clinic in Quad Cities

September 21st, 2009 by Tom

For most high school athletes, particularly those competing in fall sports, what looms ahead mostly is a diversion at this stage of the school year.

What Matt Lackey and Wes Hand are offering high school and upper-level middle-school wrestlers at Bettendorf's wrestling room, however, is anything but a diversion.

With five all-American awards between them "Lackey a national champion from Moline and Illinois, and Hand at Iowa "the pair has so much wrestling street cred that they can command a great deal of attention.

And they are, every Sunday evening, at Bettendorf's wrestling room from 5:30 to 7 p.m. offering clinics. There is no cost for the clinics, and the Q-C residents, Lackey and Hand, like it that way.

"As long as I have two cents to throw in and somebody to listen, I'll do it," said Lackey, who like Hand, doesn't have future coaching aspirations. "I'm always going to be a part of wrestling. I'll always be a coach. Obviously, Wes and I are not affiliated with anybody, so we're able to teach and help kids out when coaching staffs can't."

The clinic idea came from officers within the Bettendorf Wrestling Club, and though Bulldogs coach Dan Knight is offering his room and many of his team members are taking part, he's otherwise hands-off.

"Coaches can't have control of their kids (now)," Knight said. "Kids get tired of working out alone, and this is a chance to get different workout partners, and these are two guys that love the sport and love to come out and help kids learn it."

The clinic runs through Nov. 8.

"I didn't do a lot with the sport since I've been out of coaching, and this was a good opportunity to be a part of it," Hand said.

"The hay is made in these few months and in the spring. These are the months where you get that wrestling shape, develop your technique, and I like to do whatever I can to teach them."

Sunderland named as Manheim Central HS head coach

August 17th, 2009 by Tom

The Manheim Central school board approved the hiring of former Penn State coach Troy Sunderland as its head wrestling coach during a school board meeting Tuesday night.

Sunderland, who resigned from Penn State on April 4, replaces Shane Mack, who had coached the Barons since 2005.

The coaching job will be Sunderland's first at the high school level. Sunderland served as an assistant at Penn State and Navy before replacing John Fritz as the Nittany Lions' head coach in 1999.

Sunderland, 38, led Penn State to an 8-12-2 record and 17th-place finish at the NCAA Championships during his final season at Penn State. Sunderland went 115-90-2 and coached 27 All-Americans in 11 years at Penn State.

Sunderland becomes the 15th head coach in Manheim Central history. The Barons, who compete in District 3, have recorded more than 700 dual meet wins since the school introduced the sport in 1926. The program has produced eight state champions and 13 PIAA runner-ups since 1943. The school also conducts one of the state's top high school tournaments " the Manheim Holiday Tournament.

Sunderland's wife, JoAnn, was hired as Manheim Central High School's in-school suspension monitor, according to the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal/New Era.

Sunderland attended high school at Mount Union, where he captured two PIAA titles. Sunderland then advanced to two NCAA finals during his career at Penn State.

Cleveland HS Wrestlers – One Blind, One An Amputee – Define Friendship

August 15th, 2009 by Tom

By Tom Rinaldi
ESPN

"Leroy, touch your toes."
Leroy reaches his arms out in front of him in mock effort, and says, "They're at home."
And then, the boys laugh.

He didn't know they were gone.

Staring down at the sheets of his bed, the morphine starting to fade, Leroy Sutton was still numb, but he had a feeling something was wrong.

"It was when I tried to sit up, "Leroy said, remembering that day nearly eight years ago. "I pulled the covers up, and that's when I figured everything out."

It was Dec. 7, 2001, the day that shaped Leroy's body, and his life.

He was 11 years old at the time, walking to school with his brother along the Wheeling and Lake Erie railroad tracks near his home in East Akron, Ohio. A freight train approached, and Leroy got too close. His backpack got caught on one of the passing cars, and he was pulled beneath the wheels.

"I didn't even look down, "said Leroy, now 19, recalling the first moments afterward. "I was just staring at the sun the whole time. I wasn't trying to look down because that's when I would have panicked."

The paramedics who arrived within minutes saved Leroy's life, but the doctors could not save his entire body. At Children's Hospital in Akron, his left leg was amputated below the knee, his right leg below the hip. He knew what had happened, but didn't understand what he'd lost until a day later, when he lifted the sheets, and looked down.

As the memory came back to him, his voice dropped and his head dipped.

"The whole time I was in the hospital, I just asked, 'Why? Why?' "he said. "Every night I could not go to sleep "¦ because when I tried, I'd end up hearing the sound of a train."

Leroy left the hospital a month and a half later. He endured long, difficult hours of rehabilitation. He accepted that a wheelchair would be part of his life but was determined to make it a small part.

"I did not want to be in my chair, "he said. "I had to build my arm muscles up so I could move around. "¦ I move around on my arms a lot."

That ability to move -- to lift and flip and twist his body -- led him to a place few expected, and into a friendship few could have foreseen.

"Leroy, don't forget your shoes. "¦"
Others look down, duped. Leroy just smiles.
"You just can't see them. "¦"

In January 2008, midway through his junior year in high school, Leroy transferred to Lincoln-West High in Cleveland. By the time he was a senior, he was a familiar sight (his wheelchair flying down the hallways) with a familiar refrain (his laughter booming off the lockers). When he decided to join the wrestling team, just as he'd done at his previous school, the coaches welcomed him. They knew his story and were eager to tap his strength.

"I told him, 'You've been hit by a train. What else, what kid, what wrestler, what can stop you?' "said Lincoln-West coach Torrance Robinson.

At Leroy's first practice, his first partner was the only other wrestler on the team powerful enough to handle him. Dartanyon Crockett was Lincoln's best and strongest talent. He was 5-foot-10 with muscles bunched like walnuts, and already a winner in multiple weight classes. But when Leroy hopped off his chair and onto the wrestling mat, the competition was more than Dartanyon expected.

"He was a complete powerhouse, "Dartanyon said, recalling their first drills together. "I never wrestled anyone as strong as him. We pushed each other to our limits, and we didn't let each other give up."

Hour after hour, month after month, practices connected them in ways that went beyond the gym. They went everywhere together: between classes, on team bus rides, at each other's houses -- both dialed in to a wavelength few others could hear. They spontaneously broke into songs only they knew. They performed imaginary superhero moves they invented. They laughed at jokes and words only they understood.

Yet, their simplest connection was the one everyone saw and no one anticipated. Not even Leroy and Dartanyon know exactly when, or how, it first happened.

"One day I'm coming out of my office, "said Kyro Taylor, the school's power lifting coach. "I look over to the corner of the gym where the mats were at, and right up the steps I see Dartanyon with something on his back, and the closer I get, I'm like, 'Is that Leroy?' And it was Leroy on his back. Dartanyon's carrying him."

It was not a onetime ride.

Dartanyon lifted Leroy onto his back and carried him to and from every match, on and off every bus, into and out of every gym, all season long. At more than 170 pounds, Leroy was not a light load. Dartanyon never cared, and the carrying never stopped.

"Most of the time we wouldn't get a wheelchair lift, so I would have to carry him on the bus, take his wheelchair apart, put it on the bus, then carry him off the bus, "he said. "And then, into the building and up the stairs."

Dartanyon lifted Leroy onto his back for the playing of every national anthem, and carried him down the bleachers before each match. Yet as inseparable as they were, a team unto themselves in a way, they also shared something greater than their sport.

That's because the teammate who carried Leroy on his back all season long knows about challenges himself.

Dartanyon Crockett knows, because he's legally blind.

Dartanyon sings.
"I can see clearly now, the rain is gone."
Leroy listens, then corrects him: "But you can't see."
"So? I can still sing."
And they pick up the song together, twice as loud.

Born with Leber's disease, a condition that causes acute visual loss, Dartanyon, 18, has been severely nearsighted his entire life. He can barely make out the facial features of a person sitting 5 feet away.

"I'm basically blind compared to someone with 20/20 vision, "he said.

As a boy, his father watched him bump into the same table corners and fumble for the same objects over and over again, uncertain what was wrong. He received the diagnosis just after his son started elementary school.

"I wanted to grab him and help him, but I wasn't allowed to do that, because the world isn't like that, "Arthur Harris said. "I never let him feel sorry for himself."

"I did feel like something was wrong with me because I was completely different from everyone, "Dartanyon said. "Like I was "¦ some type of freak."

Yet as he grew older, he not only accepted the condition but also adjusted so well to his inability to see that those around him often were unaware of anything until he told them.

"I asked him, 'Are you serious?' "said Lincoln-West teacher and assistant wrestling coach Justin Hons. "Nothing about him ever gives you the hint that he has a disability. The way he carries himself, he doesn't ask for anything."

Still, there are signs. At times, his eyes dart back and forth as if ricocheting between objects. Boarding the city bus for the ride to school, he asks the driver to tell him when his stop is near, unwilling to trust his glimpses of the passing landscape. In class, often he places text just inches from his face to read. On the wrestling mat, although his moves are quick and bold, he sees little more than rough shapes lunging toward him.

Yet his own view of his limits remains focused and clear.

"I'm just seeing it as a challenge God has given me and how I'm going to react to this challenge, "he said. "Let it make me the person I am, or let it break me."

Other trials in his life could have broken him long ago.

After his mother died when he was 8, he moved in with his father, Harris, who struggled to take care of himself in the midst of an addiction to drugs and alcohol. There were times when Dartanyon scavenged the house for food, but found none. For most of his time in high school, he had no steady place to call home.

"I let him down, "Harris said. "It was terrible for him."

Through it all -- being evicted from their apartment in Lakewood, the nights Dartanyon covered his father with a blanket after he'd passed out -- Dartanyon stayed in school, stayed on the mat and supported his dad's effort to stay clean. Harris now has been sober, while working two full-time jobs, for more than a year.

That Dartanyon would pick someone else up was no surprise. He learned to carry a father before he ever carried a friend.

"He made a lot of mistakes in the past, and he's learned from them, "Dartanyon said. "It's made our bond stronger than I could fathom. He's a great father."

When the words were related to Harris, he dropped his head and began to cry.

"Above all, I'm glad the love never left, "he said. "I'm glad that stayed."

Dartanyon and Leroy move down the hallway after class.
"I am Darth Cripple, "Leroy says.
"I am Blind Vader, "Dartanyon replies, and they turn a corner; their laughter is all that's left behind.

Friends joke. They jab. They can be the least flattering of critics and the loudest of supporters. So it is with Dartanyon and Leroy. They mock each other and themselves, every chance they get, in ways others never would dare.

Keep Reading at ESPN.

Proposed New High School Wrestling Weight Classes

August 9th, 2009 by Tom

Proposed High School Wrestling Weight Classes

Rationale for wrestling weight class options from the NFHS Wrestling Rules Committee.

CURRENT:
-These current 14 weight classes have been in place since 1995.
-The 215-pound weight class was added in 2002.
-In 2006, the 275-pound weight class was increased to 285 pounds.
-These weight classes were developed from a survey that the NFHS Wrestling Rules Committee administered in, 1994-95.

OPTION A:
-The weights were created from looking at the hydrated body weight at the time of assessment of 195,000, wrestlers from the NWCA Optimal performance calculator.
-Each weight class was created to have approximately 7.14% of the wrestlers.
-Equal distribution of wrestlers in each weight class.
-Eliminates one of the first three weight class. Combines 103, 112 and 119 into two weight classes.

OPTION B:
-The weights were created from looking at the minimum wrestling weight (7% weight) at the time of assessment of, 195,000 wrestlers from the NWCA Optimal Performance Calculator.
-Each weight class was created to have approximately 7.14% of the wrestlers.
-Equal distribution of wrestlers in each weight class.
-Adds an 'additional' weight class at the top.
-Creates a weight class in the low 180-pound range.

OPTION C:
- The weights were based off using the hydrated body weight at the time of assessment of 195,000 wrestlers from, the NWCA Optimal performance calculator.
-Percentages of distribution was between 7-8%. The first three weights were distributed in the mid 6% range. This, ensured that you did not eliminate the 'small' wrestler not being represented.
-Data supports moving 103 to 107 would greatly increase the number of eligible wrestlers for the first weight class.
-Will decrease the large jump from 103-112-pounds.
-Changes the middle weight increments from 5-pounds to 6-pounds.
-Eliminates the large jump between 171-189-pounds. Makes that a 15-pound jump from 177-192-pounds.
-The prevalence of HS wrestlers (N=195,000) at each of these weight classes, there is an equal distribution (~7%), of wrestlers for each of the weight classes listed. In addition, when reviewing the national data on children from, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES published 1995), these weight classes are, consistent with the 5th - 95th percentile data on weight for adolescent males aged 15-19.

Penn State-bound Alton twins cap junior careers with freestyle titles

August 1st, 2009 by Tom

Penn State-bound twins cap junior careers with freestyle titles

by Guy Cipriano

Future Penn State wrestlers Andrew and Dylan Alton handled their last appearances in the Junior National Championships with the same demeanor they display everywhere else they compete.

They left the boasting to others. They didn't drop any tears as they left the FargoDome for the final time as competitors.

"I'm sort of glad it's the last time," Dylan said Sunday afternoon. "I'm ready to move onto the next level."

The Central Mountain duo will bring incredible resumes to Penn State in 2010.

Andrew and Dylan captured the 140 and 145 titles, respectively, during Saturday night's freestyle finals in Fargo, N.D. The twins shared Outstanding Wrestler honors.

The Altons spent plenty of time atop the Fargo podium. They combined to win nine cadet and junior freestyle and Greco-Roman titles. The twins captured junior freestyle titles the past two years.

Most wrestling experts consider the tournament the nation's premiere scholastic event. Dozens of college coaches, including Penn State's Cael Sanderson, attended this year's tournament, which started July 18.

Pennsylvania's presence in the event fluctuates, with some of the state's best wrestlers choosing to stay home and heal between grueling seasons. The Altons have never missed the tournament, although they didn't enter the Greco-Roman portion of this year's event.

"We never really practice Greco," Andrew said. "We just go out there and wrestle it. We wanted to focus on one style."

Andrew, coincidentally, met another 2009 PIAA champ in the finals, ending his tournament with a 3-0, 3-4, 1-0 victory over Blue Mountain's Josh Kindig. Andrew also defeated Kindig twice during this past spring's FILA Junior National Championships.

"He gets tougher and tougher," Andrew said. "This was the third time I faced him this year. He was a lot tougher for some reason. I knew I had to get my offense going."

Andrew and Kindig are friends, but awkward situations develop when they enter the same weight class.

"We usually don't speak with each other," Andrew said. "We don't know what to say."

Andrew went 12-0 on his way to the title. He also received challenges from Minnesota's Dylan Ness, New Jersey's Chris Villalonga and Wisconsin's Nazar Kulchytsky.

Dylan went 10-0, handling California's Vlad Dombrowskiy 6-0, 2-3, 3-1 in the finals. He defeated his first six opponents by either fall or technical fall.

"The title meant a lot to me," Dylan said. "I wanted to go out a champ."

The Altons were two of three Pennsylvania wrestlers to earn junior freestyle titles. Council Rock South's Josh Dziewa started a streak of three straight Pennsylvania victories by winning at 135.

Andrew and Dylan were centerpieces of a tight-knit Pennsylvania team. The group traveled to Fargo by bus, a trip that took 22 hours and Penn State assistant Troy Letters served as one of its coaches.

The team also included West Mifflin's Sam Sherlock, who orally committed to Penn State earlier this month. Sherlock dropped his opening bout, but recovered to take third at 130.

Once the tournament ended and the socializing increased, Andrew said the twins received multiple questions about Penn State's future. The Altons committed to the program in April, one week after Sanderson's hiring.

"We're both looking forward to it," Dylan said. "We can't wait for it to start and to get rolling through."

The junior national championships marked the duo's final tournament this summer. They are using the next month to relax and prepare for 2009- 10. Dylan is attempting to become a three-time PIAA champion. Andrew captured his first state title this past spring.

New Jersey wins Schoolboy National Duals in Greco

June 28th, 2009 by Tom

Josh Lowe, InterMat High School Analyst

Heading into the 2009 Schoolboy Greco-Roman National Duals, one wondered whether it would again be a battle between Minnesota and Pennsylvania for the title. In each of the last two years, those squads met in the final. Minnesota won in 2008, while Pennsylvania prevailed in 2007 to win the back end of consecutive titles in this event.

However, New Jersey -- not exactly a traditional Greco-Roman power -- surprised the field with a 9-0 run through the championships. The Garden State squad was anchored by a pair of wrestlers that went 9-0 for the competition, Dylan Milonas (120) and Cory Damiana (190). Milnoas is raned 11th nationally in the recently released Junior High rankings by InterMat.

The run was not without challenges. In Pool A competition, defending champions Minnesota actually took 9 of the 17 matches from New Jersey. The difference in the 37-36 New Jersey victory was getting five victories by pin and technical fall, while Minnesota only mustered three. A pin by Damiana, technical fall by Jeffrey Miller (210), and pin by Gregory Webb (265) in the last three matches of that dual meet turned a 35-23 deficit into the one-point victory. Then, in the last match of championship pool competition, New Jersey needed a last match pin from Webb to knock off Wisconsin, 39-38.

Despite losing a match in preliminary Pool D to Missouri, Illinois cleared the other championship pool with a 3-0 record to advance to the first place match against New Jersey. The Land of Lincoln squad would fall short in the final, as they could not hold a 28-18 lead that they had secured heading into the last six matches of the dual meet. David Williams (152), Anthony Ferraro (160), Kenneth Bradley (175), Damiana, and Webb would win their matches to rally the Garden State squad to the gold medal.

Placement matches:
1st place: New Jersey defeated Illinois, 40-33
3rd place: Missouri defeated Minnesota 1, 39-30
5th place: Pennsylvania Red defeated Wisconsin, 40-29
7th place: Michigan 1 defeated Minnesota 2, 42-33
9th place: Kansas defeated Florida, 44-26

Undefeated wrestlers (at least six wins in contested matches):
70 pounds: Jabari Moody (IL) 6-0
77 pounds: KeShawn Hayes (MO) 9-0
84 pounds: Dylan Lucas (FL) 8-0
91 pounds: Coy Ozias (MD) 7-0, Luke Zilverberg (MN-2) 6-0
98 pounds: Bryce Brill IL 9-0
105 pounds: Brogan Humprhey (KS) 6-0
112 pounds: Russell Coleman (MO) 9-0, Jarred Johnson (KS) 6-0
120 pounds: Dylan Milonas (NJ) 9-0, Levi Eck (KS) 8-0
128 pounds: Eric Morris (PA) 9-0
144 pounds: Joe Cortese (IL) 8-0
152 pounds: Tommy Longendyke (MN-1) 8-0, Dominick Flock (WI) 7-0, Nick Corba (OH) 6-0
160 pounds: Luke Kisselback (PA) 9-0
190 pounds: Cory Damiana (NJ) 9-0, Adrian Bolognani (IL) 7-0
215 pounds: Alex Lennarston (WI) 9-0

7 Wrestlers from Lexington Wrestling Club qualified for the National High School Coaches Association Tournament

May 26th, 2009 by Tom

Seven wrestlers from the Lexington Wrestling Club qualified for the National High School Coaches Association National Tournament with strong showings this weekend at a state qualifying tournament at Trinity High School.

Tyler Davis (103) and Keyonne Redfearn (heavyweight) won their weight classes in the high school division. Kabron Horton (171) placed second, and Ronal Canales (135) and Darel Martin Jr. (140) placed third in the high school division to qualify.

In the middle school division, Brandon Martin (112) was second, and Josh Rojas (145) finished third.

All of these wrestlers will compete in the national tournament in Salisbury, Md. from July 2-4.

Elissa Reinsma is first MN girl wrestler to reach state.

March 1st, 2009 by Tom

By JOHN MILLEA, Star Tribune

LUVERNE, MINN. " Saturday was a big day for high school wrestling across Minnesota, as section tournaments determined the 672 individuals who will compete at this week's state tournament.

For 671 of them, advancing to state is a major accomplishment. For one of them, it is history.

Elissa Reinsma, a pony-tailed 103-pound sophomore from Fulda/Murray County Central, became the first female qualifier in the 72-year history of the state tournament Saturday. She placed second in the Class 2A, Section 3 tournament at Luverne High School and will take a record of 32-8 to the state tournament, which begins Wednesday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

She will join her brother Justin, a senior 130-pounder, in St. Paul. Justin, who has finished fifth in Class 2A twice, will compete at state for the fifth time.

Elissa said she has been dreaming about the state tournament for four years, beginning when she made her first trip to cheer for Justin in St. Paul.

"I went up to watch him and said, 'That's where I want to be,''' she said Saturday.

Both Reinsmas were seeded first in the section tournament, which began Friday night. After receiving a first-round bye, Elissa won her only Friday match by a score of 9-6. On Saturday she pulled out a 2-1 semifinal victory over ninth-grader John Weeding of Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd and lost to second-seeded Adrian ninth-grader Nate Lynn 4-3 in the championship round. The top two wrestlers at each weight class advance to state.

Reinsma and Lynn have met five times this season, with Reinsma winning three times. In Saturday's match, Lynn went ahead 2-0 with a first-period takedown, a reversal by Reinsma made it 2-2 in the second period, Lynn scored a reversal for a 4-2 lead in the third period and Reinsma finished the scoring with an escape at the 40-second mark.

Lynn, who also will make his first trip to state, said, "Once you're out there you try not to think about it, and act like it's a guy you're wrestling. She's really quick and good on her feet."

Wearing a black T-shirt under her singlet and tucking her shoulder-length hair into a tight cap under her headgear, Reinsma was a model of efficient wrestling. With long arms and an aggressive style, she accomplished what she came so close to last season. She placed third in the 2008 section tournament.

Reinsma, who is ranked No. 7 in her 2A weight class by The Guillotine wrestling publication, has a pedigree in the sport. Her grandfather, Clet Blegens, is a former head wrestling coach at Slayton High School (which is now Murray County Central). He was in the stands Saturday to watch his granddaughter make history.

Elissa has a twin brother, Matt, and a younger brother, Mitch; they both play basketball.

Now in her third year as a varsity wrestler, Reinsma also plays volleyball and softball. She made what might have been the biggest decision of her athletic career in junior high. She almost went out for basketball, but chose wrestling instead.

And the rest, now, is history.

Clovis wrestling coaches suspended for season

December 14th, 2008 by Tom

By Andy Boogaard / The Fresno Bee

Steve and Adam Tirapelle, a father-son combination who directed Clovis High to the state wrestling championship last season, have been suspended from coaching for the remainder of the season by the Clovis Unified School District.

"The suspension was the result of findings after a multiple-month investigation following allegations of violations of district policies and coaches code of ethics, "district spokesperson Kelly Avants said.

She said the investigation was conducted by an outside firm.

Jim Crichlow, who oversees high school athletics in the Valley as commissioner of the California Interscholastic Federation Central Section, said he had no involvement in the discipline. And he said he hasn't received an "official complaint "regarding the Tirapelles in his eight-year career as commissioner.

Avants said Steve Tirapelle, the program's 12-year head coach, was informed of the suspension Thursday in the office of Clovis Principal Pam Winter. Also present was district Deputy Superintendent Dan Kaiser.

"According to their investigation, I committed several violations related to recruiting, which is absolutely false, "Steve Tirapelle said. "When I asked them to elaborate, they said they didn't have to tell me.

"We don't recruit. Anything that revolves around recruiting is hearsay by jealous people and people who are not happy. We put in a reasonable time to the program, trying to give back to the sport that has blessed us with positive experiences."

Steve Tirapelle was interviewed by an investigator, but his son was not, the coaches said. They said they are prohibited from attending school matches or tournaments.

Steve Tirapelle said he was "shellshocked "by Thursday's notification, and is in the process of pursuing a response, possibly through litigation.

Avants said assistant coach Ben Holscher, a health teacher on campus, has been appointed interim head coach through the season, which started for the first-string varsity at this weekend's Clovis West Shootout. When it concludes, Avants said, it is the district's "intention "to have the Tirapelles return as coaches.

Steve Tirapelle continues to teach physical education at the school. Adam Tirapelle is an investor for Merrill Lynch, a financial management and advisory company. He said he isn't paid by the district. Generally, high school assistant coaches receive stipends.

The development is a blow to the reputation of the most prominent wresting family in Valley history, and a setback to a program given a good chance of landing a ninth state title. Their total of eight is a state record.

Steve Tirapelle has led the Cougars to five section championships and eight top-five state finishes, including two titles.

Adam Tirapelle, the oldest of three brothers, is a five-year assistant and a former two-time state champion and three-time All-American at Illinois, including one NCAA title.

Alex Tirapelle is a three-time state champion and two-time All-American at Illinois. And Troy, the youngest, is a three-time state champion. He's completing his Illinois career as a senior.

Adam Tirapelle declined comment, other than to say: "We don't know what they're accusing us of. I don't want to talk yet. We're looking into it and seeing what course of action we're going to take."

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