Waterford sophomore wrestler Hayden Halter, a defending state champion, will not be able to wrestle in the postseason this year due to a pair of unsportsmanlike penalties he accrued in the Southern Lakes conference meet.
While the rules are fairly clear , in that a player who picks up two unsportsmanlike penalties in one event must sit out the next event (in this case, the entire WIAA State Tournament), the manner in which the penalties were assessed is what's under intense scrutiny.
Penalties assessed against Halter occurred within 20 seconds of one another, at the end of the match that he won 7-2 ( watch here ).
What the debate is centering around is how each unsportsmanlike penalty was determined. The first one came after a call was questioned near the end of the match, and the second one came after the match in which Halter flexed to the crowd following the win. Additionally, an allegation of bias by the the official was levied by the wrestler's family, and the entire situation has sparked conversation about everything from celebrations to officials, to issues affecting the sport of wrestling itself.
Nate Woelfel, who covers high school wrestling for WisSports.net, covered the story on Wednesday and describes it as a complicated situation. In terms of the letter of the law, the WIAA made the right calls and interpretation by the book. However, there are a myriad of issues surrounding the situation, which ultimately will result in Halter missing out on an opportunity to both defend his state champion and a chance to become one of only a handful of wrestlers in state history to win four championships. Here's his interview with The Big 1070 in Madison discussing the situation and how it will play out ahead of Saturday's WIAA regionals.