While high school authorities continue to grapple over his medal status at the city championships, Tanner Piper wrestled at the provincial level on the weekend.

While high school authorities continue to grapple over his medal status at the city championships, Tanner Piper wrestled at the provincial level on the weekend.

Piper, who attends O'Neill High School, competed in the Saskatchewan High Schools Athletic Association meet in Saskatoon despite being stripped of his silver medal -- at least temporarily -- following the Regina High Schools Athletic Association championships.

"It's contradictory, saying that, 'You're not the silver medallist but you can go to provincials,' '' said Piper, who finished fourth in the 90-kilogram boys division when the SHSAA meet concluded in Saskatoon.

"I'm kind of confused about everything and trying to figure out what's going on. Every day it changes, from one meeting to the next.''

The confusion arose Feb. 27, when the RHSAA championships concluded at Campbell Collegiate. That evening, Piper had conflicting athletic commitments and was forced to choose between wrestling in a gold-medal match and participating in a playoff game with Hockey Regina's junior C Bulldogs.
Piper opted for a compromise. Being that he had wrestled in two 90kg matches on Feb. 26 -- thereby qualifying for the final -- he sought to balance the scales by playing hockey the following evening.
Piper then approached O'Neill wrestling coach Ron Gonzales with the dilemma. Gonzales raised the matter Feb. 27 at the customary pre-finals meeting of the RHSAA's wrestling coaches -- none of whom voiced objections at the time.

Piper proceeded to forfeit his match against Balfour's Freddy Myers. Piper was content to settle for a silver medal -- which was awarded to the losing wrestler in each final -- and play hockey.
"I tried to disrupt the fewest people possible,'' Piper said. "All my buddies wanted me to come out and play hockey.''

Myers ended up with an automatic gold medal. Piper was given seven team points toward the team standings for placing second.

Following the meet, Balfour was awarded the city boys wrestling title. It was soon determined that the results had been miscalculated. Once the results were recalculated, O'Neill was ahead in the standings.

As it turned out, Piper's seven points were the difference between O'Neill and Balfour winning the city title.

The wrestling coaches from both schools -- Gonzales and Balfour's Ryan Bellamy -- consulted with RHSAA commissioner Greg Johnson with the goal of arriving at a solution. Gonzales and Bellamy came back to Johnson with the suggestion that a tie be declared in the boys' standings and that the championship be shared.

This compromise, while advanced by Bellamy, was not approved by Balfour administration (which consulted with the school's wrestlers and some of the parents). The wrestlers and parents felt a single champion should be declared.

Balfour then filed an appeal with the RHSAA executive. Balfour cited Canadian Amateur Wrestling Association rules, which specify that without an injury and a medical certificate, a wrestler should not collect points in the event of a forfeiture.

Balfour's appeal was upheld when the executive met and heard the cases of both schools Wednesday night. Therefore, Piper was stripped of his silver medal and the seven points, tipping the scale in Balfour's favor regarding the city boys title.

Even so, the executive invited Piper to compete at provincials on the weekend, when he ended up finishing one spot ahead of Myers.

O'Neill responded to the executive's decision by appealing to an independent board of review. That appeal has yet to be heard.

"It's so frustrating being caught in the middle and trying not to disappoint anyone,'' Piper said.
Balfour won the 4A boys team title at provincials, registering 51 points -- eight more than second-place O'Neill.

Johnson, Gonzales, Bellamy, Balfour Collegiate principal Murray Greenwood and O'Neill principal Dave Ripplinger declined to comment on the situation while it is under review.

"The school board is now involved,'' said Donna Ackerman, whose son Kirk is a four-time SHSAA champion. "During the appeal process, I'm sure they'll make the right decision. Until then, it's just too bad that the kids have had to wait this long to get this done.''