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Irwin: Tyrone can share blame in Wunder situation

February 19, 2013
By Todd Irwin (tirwin@altoonamirror.com) , The Altoona Mirror

It's been almost a week since Tyrone senior 195-pounder D.J. Wunder was declared academically ineligible by the school district.

And it still doesn't make sense.

It was very mature and admirable of Wunder to take the blame for missing assignments in statistics and physics, and for his grades slipping in both classes while he was sick and missing half days of school for going to see a doctor about impetigo, a skin disease that kept him in bed all of one weekend.

His parents, the school district and the Tyrone wrestling community should be proud of somebody like Wunder, who is a good kid and, just looking at the two classes in which his grades slipped, is intelligent. This is a kid who scored a 1,310 on his SATs.

While it's admirable of Wunder to take part of the blame, he doesn't deserve all of the blame.

It has to be said that teachers and administrators do a good job while facing economic cutbacks and problems within and outside the school .

But the teachers involved, guidance department, the administration and the athletic department all should take some of the blame for not letting Wunder know his grades were going south and for the way they penalized him for the bad grades.

"I had no clue I was failing two classes," Wunder said last Wednesday night.

Wunder is one of the brightest in the school and a wrestler who had the potential to be a District 6 Class AA finalist and state qualifier. And nobody apparently thought about letting him know that he was in danger academically.

High school principal Thomas Yoder did not return two phone messages for him on Monday concerning an interview about the situation. Yoder, along with athletic director Tom Coleman, told Wunder he was being declared ineligible

The ruling infuriated many in the small community.

"Shame, shame on the Tyrone School District for letting a very, very good kid fall through the cracks!" one reader said in an e-mail to me. "So... the teachers don't communicate with the student letting them know that even he has been sick he needs to get his assignment in?"

As far as the ruling itself, a friend of mine offered his own penalty: Let him wrestle in districts, and if he does qualify for regionals, give him two weeks to get his grades back up. If his grades don't improve, then declare him ineligible for the regional tournament.

I know there will be some who say he shouldn't be treated any differently just because he's an athlete. But this is not a kid skipping school, standing on a street corner smoking a cigarette and getting into trouble. He doesn't fit the profile.

It's very likely that he would, and most likely still is, improving his grades.

Hopefully, lessons were learned by all.

IOC ruling baffles

While the handling of Wunder didn't make sense, the ruling by the International Olympic Committee dropping wrestling at the 2020 Summer Olympics makes even less sense.

Wrestling is one of the original Olympic sports, is one of the oldest sports in history and is very competitive at the Olympic level. You may think America dominates the sport, but wrestlers from all over the world have won gold, silver and bronze medals.

I can't fathom why the IOC would drop wrestling and leave equestrian, table tennis, badminton, sailing, golf and fencing, among others, as sports in the Olympics. I hardly watch the Olympics, and when I do, it's usually wrestling that I do watch. It's hard to look seven years into the future, but if the ruling stands, I doubt I'll be watching at all.

The ruling has stirred up a hornet's nest within the wrestling community, and hopefully guys like Penn State coach Cael Sanderson and Iowa coach Tom Brands can help put enough pressure on the IOC that it will reverse its decision.

Todd Irwin can be reached at 946-7464 or at tirwin@altoonamirror.com. He can be followed on Twitter at ToddIrwin1.

 
 

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