Judge rules against Verkleeren

Westmoreland County Judge Alfred Bell ruled Thursday that Jarod Verkleeren, a junior wrestler at Belle Vernon, can not wrestle off at a higher weight class, which means he can not participate in the Section 2-AAA Tournament at Ringgold High School Saturday.
The Verkleeren family sued to have their son receive an opportunity to eliminate at another weight so he could compete in the Section 2-AAA Tournament, which will be held Saturday at Ringgold High School. Bell’s decision ends Verkleeren’s season.
“I had to fight for what I thought was right, but God has other plans for me. However I was grateful for the opportunity,” Verkleeren tweeted after Bell’s decision.
The emergency injunction was filed and a hearing was scheduled for Wednesday before Bell, who continued the proceedings until Thursday so other wrestlers who might be affected by the decision could be present with representation. The Verkleeren family claimed their son was improperly excluded from qualifying for the Section 2 Tournament. They claim the Belle Vernon coaches refused to allow him to eliminate at another weight.
Verkleeren has battled with his weight all season and reportedly suffers from diabetes. A Cadet World champion, Verkleeren wrestled up a weight class in the PIAA Team Tournament and his final weigh-in was too high for him to get down to qualify to wrestle at 145 pounds.
The PIAA instituted a weight-management system for all wrestlers a few years ago to stop the practice of massive weight loss to qualify at a lower class. Wrestlers are permitted only to lose a small percentage of their weight each week. When Verkleeren weighed in for Saturday’s final day of competition at the PIAA Team Tournament, his weight-management plan would not allow him to get to 149.1 pounds required to be eligible for 145. The PIAA permits weight gain during the season to adjust for growth, which is why 149 still qualifies for the 145-pound weight class.
Verkleeren qualified to wrestle at 152 or 160, but Verkleeren’s brother, Derek, is at 152 and Mitch Hartman is at 160.


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