There’s really no other way to put it – the Westosha Central girls volleyball team got screwed.
Simple and plain.
The girls, who were swept, 3-0, in the Southern Lakes Conference championship match Saturday, earned a share of the conference crown thanks to winning the regular season, but received some bad news after the tournament.
It turns out an unnamed team called Westosha’s athletic director Jonathan Lindh, and pointed out a rule violation regarding the Falcons’ schedule.
According to a 30-year-old bylaw, teams are only allowed to participate in seven tournaments per season. However, Westosha competed in eight this season, and someone found out.
The AD, Jonathan Lindh, self-reported the violation, and the No. 1 seed Falcons, who won more than 35 matches and were ranked in the top 10 in the state poll, were immediately banned from the playoffs.
The team released a statement pleading for mercy, and it even filed an appeal, as several players and parents drove all the way up to Stevens Point to meet the WIAA officials in person.
But the Board of Directors rejected the appeal, 8-1, and the ban is upheld.
Central would’ve hosted a regional playoff match Saturday.
““We the Westosha Central varsity volleyball players, as dedicated hardworking student-athletes have been blindsided with the news today of being disqualified from postseason play due to a scheduling error by our athletic director and coach (Charlie Berg),” the team stated, according to www.mykenoshacounty.com.
The news sent shockwaves through the Westosha Central community, as many took to social media to question the ruling.
“This is just wrong,” said Tess Eisenhauer. “With so much bad in our world today, we have to punish a great group of girls for something they were not aware of? Seriously WIAA, this is taking rules and power just too far! Let them play!”
Emphatic cries from the public resonated, as people not even involved with the Central program weighed in.
Major news outlets like the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Wisconsin State Journal picked up the story, which was first reported Jason Arndt of the Westosha Report Monday evening.
This was a major dropping of the ball by the Central administration, but I can see how it could be an oversight. Apparently, the Falcons have played in eight tournaments for several seasons, but it’s now finally being brought to light, albeit by a rival team.
It wasn’t a big deal until someone told on Central? What message does that send?
Why punish the innocent athletes here?
I can see a team forfeiting wins because of an academic eligibility, but this was an error by adults, and kids are the ones being let down.
Maybe with a month left in the season, conduct mandatory eligibility tests. If there’s too many games, simply cancel. Is schedule approval a tenuous task?
How about making the head coach miss the first playoff game?
Or take it one step further, give the first game to Central’s opponent so it must win three of the next four matches.
Anything is better than all-out ban from the playoffs, less than a week from the start of the postseason.
Talk about a railroading.
This is drastic. Parents and kids invest countless hours during a grueling four-month season, and they don’t deserve this.
I implore the WIAA to show some heart, and offer respite in extreme circumstances. Thankfully, those in the Central camp have shown grace and only wish to avoid this happening to another team in the future. They’ve accepted the consequences.
People make mistakes.
The athletic director and head coach had the best of intentions, and nothing was done with malice or to gain an unfair advantage. Sometimes, things fall through the cracks, and oversights happen.
How much better is Central based on one more tournament?
I get it, they broke a rule, and punishment happens.
But you have to punish those responsible for the errors, not the innocent kids who should be gearing up for the most exciting time of their season.
If rules are broken, penalize within reason. This is extreme.
Last week: 3-2
GAME OF THE WEEK
(5) Monona Grove (7-2) at (4) Waterford (7-2), Division 2, 7 p.m. Friday
The Silver Eagles earned a fifth seed and trip to Waterford by virtue of finishing second in the highly-regarded Badger South Conference.
The Wolverines lost out on a shot at the conference title with a 21-14 loss to Lake Geneva Badger last week.
But all is not lost, especially with a playoff opener at the friendly confines of Waterford High School.
The Silver Eagles play in the South Division of Badger Conference against Monroe, Stoughton, Fort Atkinson, Milton, Edgerton and Oregon.
Monona Grove finished second in the Badger South this season with a record of 5-1. The Silver Eagles finished 7-2 overall.
Monona Grove lost 45-14 Aug. 26 in a non-conference game at Waunakee and 10-7 Sept. 9 at Monroe in a Badger South contest.
The Silver Eagles average 211 passing yards and 152 rushing yards per game. Quarterback Alex Ogden finished with 1,890 passing yards and threw for 24 touchdowns. Jackson Thomsen led Monona Grove in rushing with 858 yards per game and Andryi Nahirniak is the team’s leading receiver. Nahirniak caught 42 passes for 794 yards and eight touchdowns this season.
The winner between the Wolverines and Silver Eagles plays either eight-seeded DeForest or No. 1-seeded Waunakee in a Level 2 playoff game Oct, 28 at a site to be determined. Waunakee and DeForest play tonight at Waunakee.
Waunakee is ranked No. 1 in Division 2 in the most recent WisSports.net Coaches Poll. Waterford is seventh in the same poll. The Warriors beat the Wolverines 45-0 in the 2011 Division 2 title game.
Minus a few late turnovers, Waterford had a very good chance to knock off mighty Badger, ranked No. 5 in Division 1, last week.
The ground attack of Ben Michalowski and Jared Krattiger will return behind an immense offensive line, and the emergence of the Matt Korman-Aaron Chapman hookup through the air is giving Waterford another dimension.
Ride the home team.
PREDICTION: Waterford 17, Monona Grove 14
(7) Madison West (5-4) at (2) Lake Geneva Badger (9-0), Division 1
It’s too bad Badger landed in Division 1, as it surely would’ve had a great shot at state in the Division 2 playoffs.
But who’s to say it can’t happen in D1?
Mason Dumez is a stud quarterback who makes all the right reads, and Patrick Watrous and Ryan Sproul are big-time playmakers.
What sets Badger apart is its defense.
Lake Geneva, behind the intelligent offensive calls of coach Matt Hensler and the clutch kicking of Tias Larson, finished one game from state last year, and the momentum has carried over.
West took fourth in the traditionally strong Big 8 Conference, powered by 1,635 passing yards from Keishawn Shanklin and more than 1,000 receiving yards from Terrell Carey.
Lake Geneva will find a way to force turnovers, and there is no way the Regents will stop the Badger ground game, which racks up 310 yards per contest.
PREDICTION: Lake Geneva 40, Madison West 12
(7) Watertown (5-4) at (2) Wilmot (8-1), Division 2
The Panthers possess all the ingredients for playoff success – suffocating defense, dominant rushing offense, the ability to pass and a difference-making kicker.
Wilmot was merely a few yards and one mistake from knocking off host Lake Geneva Badger in overtime, and the Panthers beat mighty Waterford.
A.J. Frisby’s passing game has flourished the past few weeks, though the team is banged up at several positions.
And Robert Brent is the best running back in the area, with 1,098 rushing yards and 8.1 yards per carry.
The regional consists of Waterford, Waunakee, DeForest, Waukesha West, Stoughton and Watertown.
The Goslings, who traditionally perform well in the D2 playoffs, finished tied for second in the Wisconsin Little Ten Conference, where they compiled a 5-2 record.
Like usual, Watertown relies on its passing game, with stud QB Dylan Fagerland throwing for 330 yards per game. He’s only 30 yards from 3,000 for the season – WOW.
Receiver Ryan Hayden has caught 75 balls for 1,359 yards and 17 touchdowns.
It’s a classic contrast of styles, but Wilmot’s ball control and defense will win out.
PREDICTION: Wilmot 35, Watertown 25
(7) Delavan-Darien (5-4) at (2) Mount Horeb-Barneveld (8-1), Division 3
The Comets, who play against Division 2 opponents in the Southern Lakes and hung tough and almost beat Division 1 Lake Geneva Badger, should be up for the challenge Friday.
Mount Horeb is led by QB Clint Murray, who has passed for 1,534 yards.
The squad has balance in the backfield and runs for 135 yards per game. Mount Horeb racks up 300 yards per game and is ranked No. 5 in the Division 3 state poll.
Delavan quarterback Jake Benzing finished the season with 230 passing yards per game, and the Comets rely heavily on the passing game.
The Comets are coming off a strong defensive effort against Division 2 power Wilmot, but the offense struggled.
Look for Mount Horeb’s defense to rule the day, as the team only lost to Division 2 No. 1 Waunakee, 28-20, and only allowed 20 or more points twice all season.
PREDICTION: Mount Horeb 20, Delavan-Darien 14