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Grandville Wrestling Won't Get Appeal

Word on the street is that the Grandville Wrestling Team will not have an appeal heard before this Saturday's Individual District Championship ensuring that almost all of the wrestlers are ineligible for the postseason. There will be no chance to compete for postseason titles as a team or individuals.

In Michigan, the MHSAA allows 14 competition dates before Districts (they go District, Regionals, and then State). No more than 8 of those 14 dates can be tournaments. Grandville had 15 competition dates for most of their team before their conference championships last Friday (conference would have been the 16th competition date for their varsity).

The #LetGrandvilleWrestle hashtag on social media gained a lot of steam as the decision to ban the team that was a mistake by the coaching staff and the Athletic Administration. The outcry was generally channeled in to at least allowing the individuals to compete in the postseason accepting the team ban as punishment enough. 

It is a tough spot for the MHSAA. They have rules and bylaws and if a governing body doesn't enforce their rules, they really don't have rules. However, this instance was an error that is largely clerical. Catching several wrestlers doing some form of cheating or crime related would be a different story. These kids are being punished while they simply showed up to where they were told to go. 

Ultimately, the MHSAA did what is expected by a governing body and that is enforce their rules. I think the MHSAA missed an opportunity to correct an excessive penalty for the first-time offense. The #5 ranked team in Division 1 not being allowed in the team competition (Michigan does not keep team score in Individual post-season tournaments as all the team awards are from dual results) and a suspension of the head coach for the post-season would be a severe enough penalty that no other program would purposely violate the rule in the future. Penalties for repeat offenders could get worse, but that doesn't apply here.

I have spoken to a lot of wrestlers/parents/fans/officials about this in the last week and everyone agrees that the punishment levied against Grandville was far too severe and unfairly punished innocent kids. It's unfortunate that it sounds like nothing will change before this season is over, but a more common sense idea in the future should be approached.