David White

CIF was apparently too cheap to maintain a tradition at state wrestling meet

The Buchanan wrestling team celebrates its 2017 team championship at the state meet in Bakersfield. On display are some of the oversized replica weight-division brackets. Up until last year, those went to each of the top four individuals. But at the 2019 meet, only the 14 individual champions got a bracket.
The Buchanan wrestling team celebrates its 2017 team championship at the state meet in Bakersfield. On display are some of the oversized replica weight-division brackets. Up until last year, those went to each of the top four individuals. But at the 2019 meet, only the 14 individual champions got a bracket. Fresno Bee file

What a bunch of cheapskates.

Somebody at the California Interscholastic Federation water cooler decided to kick a bunch of high school wrestlers in the head gear last weekend.

They took away their brackets.

For years, wrestlers who finished in the top-four at the California Wrestling State Championships were given oversized poster-board replicas of their weight class results. Wrestling might not be a big deal to most readers, but this is a huge deal to high school kids who go years without eating solids for this moment.

Without notice or explanation, only state champions got brackets Saturday. Whoever made the decision didn’t tell the wrestlers about this. Didn’t tell the coaches about this. Didn’t even discuss it with the Wrestling Advisory Committee.

“I didn’t know about it until after the awards ceremony,” said Porterville coach Tim Vanni, an Olympic medalist on the advisory committee. “It never came up in any of our meetings. That’s not quite right, those kids have earned it.”

Maybe the section commissioners knew?

“I have no idea,” said Jim Crichlow, the Central Section commissioner. ”You hate to see a tradition broken.”

Surely, they consulted Marco Sanchez, the Gilroy High principal who heads the advisory committee?

“The elimination of bracket posters for 2-4 medalists was not formally discussed at (our) advisory committee meetings … nor opinion sought. The adjustment was an event management decision.”

Know how they all found out? When the kids took the medals podium, and didn’t get what they got all the years before.

“To say my senior season experience was a disappointment would be an understatement,” said Selma High’s Jace Luchau, in an open letter to the CIF after his third-place finish Saturday. “I fought my way back to third after a heart-breaking loss in the semis, and was looking forward to collecting another bracket to add to my room, which never came.”

Way to flee the mat, CIF.

Was this you, executive director Roger Blake? Or you, senior director Brian Seymour? This can’t possibly be tournament director Alan Paradise, a former wrestling coach who had to know better than this.

We’re dying to hear back from you, but you must be busy not making trophies for the state basketball playoffs.

Was the cost of cardboard too much to bear? Because, last we checked, you saved a ton of money by merging the boys and girls state tournaments and jacking up the admission over three days.

Did you do this the same day you decided to not let families on the floor to take pictures of their kids on the podium, forcing them to buy glossy pictures through your corporate sponsor?

“This was completely senseless, classless and morally bankrupt,” said Clovis coach Adam Tirapelle. “Our kids were so disappointed. Those (people) are so out of touch.”

And, for the love of my high school daughter, don’t give me that gender equity hide-behind. We know the boys always got top-four brackets, and the girls only got brackets if they won.

The problem was never that the boys got four brackets. CIF did that because it only has one division for wrestling. Other states have four or five. They give brackets to four or five wrestlers. So did CIF. Until Saturday.

The problem was that CIF had been going cheap on the girls since their first state tournament in 2011, only giving champions a bracket. Combined in the same venue last week, equity demanded that the girls get the same as the boys. And CIF opted to stay cheap.

Want to fix this unmitigated tire fire you started? Want to live up to that exercise in theory you call a mission statement inside your glass offices in Sacramento?

Print out brackets for the top-four finishers from both tournaments. Use your section commissioners to deliver the brackets because the last thing these wrestlers want to do is shake your hand.

Make this thing right.

Otherwise, here’s hoping you’ll use all that cardboard you saved to pack your personal belongings at the office.

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