Just when you thought state athletic associations couldn't get any more bureaucratic, along comes one of the oddest disqualifications yet from the state of California.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Granada Hills (Calif.) High wrestler Dillon Freeman, a top contender to win his division at the 2011 City championships, was barred from competing at the tournament because he forgot to bring his school's picture ID card. The California Interscholastic Federation City Section said that only wrestlers who presented a valid school ID card would be admitted to the event, so Freeman was turned away despite presenting his valid driver's license.
Granada Hills' athletic director did make a valiant final effort to get Freeman in the event, emailing the student's ID to a smartphone, a procedure which City Section administrator John Aguirre approved. Yet, just when some level of sanity had seemed to prevail, opposing coaches protested Freeman's inclusion at the championships because the ID delay meant that he was weighed in on the event's scales later than his fellow competitors.
Amazingly, those protests were upheld, sending Freeman home without a chance to defend his City championship, albeit in a different weight class; the senior won the 160-pound class in 2010 -- you can see video of that City title bout above -- but was competing at 152 pounds in 2011.
"We can't arbitrarily decide what rules apply and don't apply," City Section commissioner Barbara Fiege told the Times.
While that may be, it isn't stopping Freeman from fighting for a shot to compete at the state meet to be held on Saturday. The Times reported that Freeman hired attorney Keith Gregory to make his case to the CIF, with Gregory writing a letter to the federation asking for the senior to be included in the event.
Perhaps surprisingly, that plea was approved, clearing the way for Freeman to compete in the state meet despite not winning the City Section event. While that ruling may be the just conclusion to a strange event, it hardly makes the bureaucratic backwaters created by CIF's procedures and the wrestling coaches themselves any less striking. The CIF statement:
"In consultation with the L.A. Section due to weigh-in procedure discrepancies during the Section wrestling championships, it has been determined that Dillon Freeman will be placed in the CIF State Wrestling Championships. Dillon will be randomly placed and will wrestle in the first round. No athlete will be displaced by this action."