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Red River appeals NDHSAA ruling

FARGO - Fargo North could get bumped from this week's North Dakota Class A state wrestling dual team tournament. Grand Forks Red River is appealing a decision that gave North a forfeit victory against Fargo South in an East Region regular-season ...

FARGO - Fargo North could get bumped from this week's North Dakota Class A state wrestling dual team tournament.

Grand Forks Red River is appealing a decision that gave North a forfeit victory against Fargo South in an East Region regular-season dual.

The North Dakota High School Actiivies Association board of directors will hold a special meeting today via conference call to rule on the appeal. If Red River wins, North would be out of the state dual tournament, which starts Thursday at the Fargodome, and Red River would be in.

"Our question is should wrestling be taken as a team sport?" Grand Forks Public Schools athletic director Todd Olson said. "We're not pointing fingers at anybody. We're saying wrestling is listed as an individual sport."

South beat North in the regular season, but the Bruins used an ineligible wrestler in the dual. In response, the NDHSAA gave North a forfeit victory at that time.

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The forfeit helped North forge a three-way tie with West Fargo and Red River for third place in the region. West Fargo and North ended up being the No. 3 and 4 seeds after tiebreakers. The top four dual teams in the region make it to state. NDHSAA assistant executive secretary Dave Carlsrud said there are past precedents where teams had to forfeit duals for using ineligible wrestlers.

The NDHSAA ruled the dual a team competition. And in those cases when a school uses an ineligible athlete, the entire team has to forfeit. But, there is one by-law in the association constitution that describes wrestling as individual sport.

"They used the comparison of swimming and track," North coach Ken Tinquist said. "They just take the kids points out of the meet. I think if they use that analogy, Red River could win the ruling. I think it's going to stand based on past experiences how they (NDHSAA) take their rules."

If the initial ruling is overturned and South forfeits only the weight class in which the ineligible wrestler competed in, the Bruins would be the winner of the dual. That's because South would have still more points than North in that dual even after the forfeit.

In wrestling, the question hinges on whether a dual team tournament should be treated differently than an individual team tournament. Tinquist said this situation should spur the state's wrestling coaches to create clearer rules.

"We should learn from this," he said. "It's going to be a hard pill to swallow for us or Red River."

Tinquist added he would accept the ruling either way.

If Red River wins the appeal, it also would affect West Fargo. Red River would move up to the No. 3 seed from the region after tiebreakers. West Fargo wrestling coach Kayle Dangerud said such a change wouldn't concern him.

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"It's a bad deal," Olson said. "Everyone feels bad."

The Forum and the Herald are both owned by Forum Communications.

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