Brookfield East, Laconia Controversies

By Joe Shinners

Special to the Journal Sentinel

      Brookfield East wrestling coach Bud Sines never could have imagined the furor that erupted after his team was blown out by Arrowhead by an 80-0 margin in the team wrestling sectional final Tuesday at Arrowhead.

      East showed up with only nine wrestlers, forfeited six weight classes and held its top three wrestlers out of the lineup. According to Sines, all will be back for the individual sectional Saturday at Watertown.

      People began questioning the effort that Sines and his wrestlers put into the dual. Fans in the stands weren't happy to have traveled for the dual only to be watching what appeared to be a less-than-diligent attempt on the mat. Sines, who has only 17 wrestlers in the program, got the message.

      "As a whole, it looks kind of bad," said Sines. "Things kind of went haywire here one thing at a time. I'm trying to do the best things for my kids."

      East unexpectedly won the regional title over Wauwatosa by 10 points on Saturday. Several of Sines' wrestlers said they would be unable to make weight, several more were injured and some were sick, according to Sines.

      "I had to handle it on a case-by-case basis," Sines said. "I had to do what was best for the kids. I called (Arrowhead coach) John (Mesenbrink) and told him on Monday that we were not going to be competitive. The reality is that it was a case of Arrowhead being a really good team against a team that is not that good."

      Said East athletic director Corey Golla: "It was certainly disappointing."

      Mesenbrink, whose team advanced to the state team tournament and is ranked No. 2 in the area, admitted that people complained but said his team was focused on wrestling.

      "He did call us right away Monday," he said. "Myself and my wrestlers, we're just focused on the next task and we're on to the next objective."

      As for the WIAA, deputy director Dave Anderson said no rules were broken but he will meet with the coaches advisory committee to address the problem. He added: "Everybody understands you should never compromise the safety of an athlete. I am aware of (the outcome). I have talked to the AD. Does it violate trust and good faith? Absolutely."

      Unfortunate mistake: A weigh-in mistake at the Wisconsin Flyway Conference meet was deemed unchangeable and that is why Laconia freshman Brad Bentz (39-4) had to wrestle at 119 pounds instead of 112 at regionals. He will compete this weekend at the Division 3 Cedar Grove-Belgium Secational.

      Bentz, ranked No. 1 in the state at 112 in D3, weighed in at 117.6 pounds before winning the Flyway 119 title on Feb. 2. But a referee wrote down 119.6 by mistake, leaving Bentz sixth-tenths of a pound to heavy to drop to 112 according to minimum weight loss rules for the regional at Laconia.

      The referee at conference was working alone after two other referees showed up 30 minutes late after a miscommunication about the weigh-in start time. With growth allowances, Bentz needed to make 115 to wrestle 112.

      Laconia coach Pat Coffeen watched Bentz weigh in and didn't catch the error until it was brought to his attention by another coach at regionals.

      Once a weight goes on a weigh-in sheet and is forwarded to the WIAA, that determines a wrestler's weight loss (half a pound per day). Calls and faxes were made to the WIAA from Laconia, but there was nothing that could be done at the regional to rectify the mistake.

      All of the coaches at the regional would have had to agree to the change and error. Apparently, one did not. That did not ease the referee's pain.

      "The referee feels terrible about it," said Coffeen. "He couldn't remember that one number. He was weighing in more than 100 kids. I've never seen it before. I can tell you this, my weigh-in procedure will be different from now on. I hate to see that it could cost this kid a state championship."

      Bentz won the 119 regional title, but Coffeen was forced to bump his lineup up a weight class to fit Bentz in. The shift meant Laconia, favored to win the regional team title, fell short in the race for the championship. Oshkosh Lourdes won with 235.5 points. Laconia finished second at 216 points.