Wrestling coach to ask for clarification after athlete is warned after prayer

mblake@newsobserver.comFebruary 13, 2013 

Wake Forest-Rolesville’s coach said he will ask for clarification of a rule that led an official to give one of his wrestlers a warning for taking a kneel to pray on the mat before his match Tuesday. Sam Hershey, though, said he has no plans to report the official’s decision to the N.C. High School Athletic Association for wrongdoing.

Nicholas Fant, a junior wrestling in the 220-pound class during Tuesday’s first-round playoff loss to Cary, jogged to the center of the mat and dropped to one knee for a two-second prayer, which Hershey said Fant has done before all of his matches this season.

Cary’s Corey Daniels also was on the mat, but the wrestlers hadn’t been brought into the center circle yet.

The ref called to the scoring table that Fant would be given a stalling warning for delaying the match.

Fant had risen to his feet before the official finished relaying his call.

The National Federation of State High School Associations rulebook says, in part, in Rule 5-25-6b that it is stalling when either wrestler “delays the match. This includes straggling back from out of bounds, unnecessarily changing or adjusting equipment or delay in assuming the starting position on the mat.”

Hershey, who says he also is a high school football official, said he would not comment on the call but would inquire about the spirit of the rule and its implementation.

Tuesday’s warning drew the ire of Hershey, who went to the official for an explanation, as well as the Wake Forest-Rolesville fans who had traveled to Northern Durham High.

Fant’s kneel to pray eventually cost him a point. Per Hershey, the wrestlers were called for double-stalling at one point during the bout.

By rule, the opposing wrestler is awarded a point if it is the second offense. It was Fant’s second offense, with the first being the kneel down, and Daniels’ first.

Daniels was given a point and eventually won the match 3-0.

It did not affect the team score, as a 2-0 or a 3-0 win is worth three team points, but the penalty could have affected Fant’s strategy during the final minutes. A reversal or takedown is worth two points.

Cary advanced with a 33-30 win.

Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps

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