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Green River withdraws wrestling appeal; Kelly Walsh still state champions
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Green River withdraws wrestling appeal; Kelly Walsh still state champions

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Class 4A has an uncontested state wrestling champion after over two months of appeals.

Green River has officially rescinded its appeal to the Wyoming High School Activities Association and won’t further contest the results of the 2020 Wyoming State High School Class 4A Wrestling Championships. That cements Kelly Walsh’s back-to-back state championships — its second title in program history — into the record books.

Green River activities director Tony Beardsley confirmed the news in a typed statement.

“After extensive research into this scoring matter,” his statement read, “it has been determined that the final updated team scores are correct and all scoring rules and applications of those rules have been applied accurately as per National Federation of High School rules.”

Beardsley went on to say that administration at Sweetwater County School District 2 sought advice from sanctioning high school associations in South Dakota, Ohio, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Idaho and Texas. The administration also contacted the National Federation of High Schools, the National Wrestling Coaches Association, Wrestling Coaches Associations in both Michigan and Ohio, and multiple high school and college wrestling coaches scattered from Utah to Virginia.

The statement, on behalf of Sweetwater 2 and Green River High School administration, offered specific clarification.

“(We) want to make it clear that although our research indicated that the final team scoring is accurate, we have an expectation that the WHSAA Executive Board will address the issue and how it was handled in a serious matter,” from the release.

The crux of the controversy came when officials deducted personal and team points from Kelly Walsh senior Luke Nathan when he was ruled disqualified in his quarterfinal match. Junior Aragon Garro, who eventually finished sixth at 170 pounds, became the Trojans’ primary scorer due to his performance instead of Nathan. Scoring officials didn’t account for that when manually deducting team points from Kelly Walsh that shouldn’t have applied as Garro became the program’s primary scorer, creating the discrepancy.

Kelly Walsh head coach Travis Peak previously told the Star-Tribune that he alerted officials of the error on the same day it occurred. That error was not changed by the championship scoring round, when Green River was ultimately crowned champion with just 1.5 points separating them from Kelly Walsh. At 11 p.m., over three hours after the championship round’s conclusion, the WHSAA informed Green River and Kelly Walsh of the error and awarded the state championship to Kelly Walsh.

Beardsley, on behalf of Green River administration, announced the following week that the school planned to appeal that decision. The administration was scheduled to state its case in front of the WHSAA Board of Directors in an executive session meeting in late March. When the WHSAA suspended high school sports due to the novel coronavirus, that appeal meeting was suspended as well. No secondary date for that appeal was set by the time the WHSAA canceled its spring sports season on April 8.

The decision to withdraw the appeal brings this case, the first of its kind in at least three decades, to a close after a two-month process.

“Green River High School and Sweetwater County School District 2 administration are extremely proud of our wrestling team, coaches, parents and community for their accomplishments and support,” Beardsley finished his statement.

Officially and without protest — Kelly Walsh wins the 2020 Class 4A team wrestling championship with 211 points. Green River finished with 208.5. The Trojans featured state champions Jace Palmer (132 pounds), Analu Benabise (145), Kevin Anderson (160) and Kole Kraus (195); as well as silver medals from Noah Hone (138), Sam Henderson (152) and Phoenix Buske (220). Green River featured state champions Thomas Dalton (106), Dominic Martinez (113), Clayson Mele (120), Kade Flores (126) and Payton Tucker (182); plus runner-up Kaden Lloyd (195).

Follow sports reporter Brady Oltmans on Twitter @BradyOltmans

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High School Sports Reporter

Brady Oltmans reports on high school and local sports. He joined the Star-Tribune in July 2016 after covering prep sports and college soccer in Nebraska. He also contributes to University of Wyoming sports coverage. He and his dog live in Casper.

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