A good question needs to be asked of the officials at the 3A state high school wrestling championships.
Are any of them from France?
Referring to the controversy over the scoring at the Olympic pairs skating last week when the Canadian team faced the Russian skaters and a French judge submitted a questionable call one could equate that analogy with this wrestling meet where a controversial decision by officials may have cost one of Carbon's wrestlers an individual state championship and Carbon a much higher placement in St. George over the weekend.
Zack Burdick, a freshman, who wrestles at 103 lbs. was penalized a match point and his team lost a point because he did not have his shoelaces taped down. The penalty was assessed with only 20 seconds to go in the final round of his semifinal match with Kaden King of North Sanpete, whom he had beaten twice before this season. The assessment of the penalty came at that point, even though the violation had been pointed out by the North Sanpete wrestling coach just before the end of the first round.
The penalty coming so late in the final round that he had no chance to make it up made Carbon's head wrestling coach Dave Smith fume.
"I have no argument with the assessment," said Smith in an interview on Monday morning. "What I do have a problem with is that even though the referee knew Zack was in violation in the first round he didn't call it or assess a penalty until toward the end when we had no chance to catch up."
The rule, enacted a few years ago to keep wrestlers from deliberately untieing their shoes during a meet to gain some rest time, is under review. But in this years meet it was in force.
"I'm not complaining about the fact we were in violation, but I am mad about when the penalty was assessed," said Smith. "We protested it after the match but that won't go anywhere. It was just a poor thing to do to the kid with only that much time left."
Smith said that Burdick had been wearing a shoe lace restraint all year, but that the restraint had broken earlier in the day and neither he nor the coaches had remembered to tape down the laces afterward.
Had Burdick won the match, which he lost when the assessment broke a 5-5 tie, he would have gone on to meet Keaton Romero of Tooele, the eventual champion, whom he had also defeated earlier this year. That would have lead to some valuable extra points that would have brought Carbons team score up to the point where they would have finished fifth in the state instead of eighth.
"Zack was near a pin when the referee stopped the match and assessed the penalty," said Smith. It seemed odd to many at the meet that the referee would stop it at that time when he had had almost two whole rounds to correct the problem.
"In the next match on the mat, both wrestlers shoes were not taped and they did not do a thing about it," stated Smith. "It's just hard to believe."
Consequently Burdick finished third in his class when he defeated Justin Griffiths of Pine View in the runners up round.
Nonetheless, Carbon did very well at the state championships as Cameron Dansie, wrestling at 135 lbs. and Shea Timothy, competing at 145 lbs. both took home individual first place trophies.
Another great performance was turned in by Tyson O'Neil, who wrestles in the heavy weight division. He placed fourth.
Cody Bunderson, also did an excellent job as he finished sixth in the 125 lb. class.
The top 10 teams included Delta, who won the championship with 235 points; Wasatch which took second with 192; Bear River which took third with 154,; Pine View placed fourth with 135; Tooele took fifth with 133.5; North Sanpete which scored 120 to take sixth; Hurricane scored 99.5 to take seventh; Carbon at 99; Uintah which put up 91 points for ninth and Dixie which scored 88 points to take 10th place.
Delta, which has now won 26 state wrestling titles, comes from Carbon's region. This was Delta's first 3A championship. The rest had come when they were a 2A school or a B class school before the classifications changed in the early 1970's. Carbon has never won a state wrestling championship since records began being kept in 1938, but the team is getting stronger every year.
Timothy and Dansie had great matches all the way through the tournament and they kept the Dinos in it until the end.
Dansie totally dominated his final match against Chris Abbott of Delta who many in the state felt was the best at his weight in the state. Dansie took Abbott down twice and basically toyed with the wrestler from Millard County, winning 6-4.
"Cameron basically gave him two of those points because he was trying to get into a different position to pin Abbott," said Smith. "He led in the match from the start to the finish."
Timothy, one of three seniors on the team, had a lot of pressure on him after finishing highly every year at state since ninth grade but never winning the title match.
"Shea was down by four in the second round, but came back very strong and whipped the kid from Wasatch," said Smith. "As far as I am concerned Shea is the best wrestler in the state, bar none."
Timothy won 9-6 pulling away at the end of the match.
O'Neil also had a great match in his final against Bart Lovell of Snow Canyon. The heavyweight class (275 lbs. and over) gets a lot of attention because it seems everyone thinks wrestlers are always big athletes.
"Tyson wrestled very well throughout the tournament," said Smith. "We should have a good team next year too if we can get some more sophomores to come out. We are losing Timothy, Bunderson and Keenan Atwood to graduation."
Atwood will be missed as much for his academics as he is for his wrestling, which has improved all season. He was one of 10 players in the 3A ranks that was named Academic All-State this year.
"Keenan has been getting better all season," said Smith. "He may not have placed at state, but his work ethic and his growth this year has been phenomenal."