When Orchard Park did not close its school on Friday because of the weather, members of its wrestling team had every reason to believe they'd be competing that afternoon at the ECIC Championships.
It didn't happen.
After-school activities were canceled leaving the Quakers, along with wrestlers from seven other schools in the ECIC, feeling wronged.
The ECIC Wrestling Tournament went on with 19 teams leaving OP, Hamburg, West Seneca East, West Seneca West, East Aurora, Frontier, Springville and Holland out of the competition. The two-day event was scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Clarence, with weigh-ins starting at 2 p.m. on Friday.
Orchard Park had been preparing all week for the competition, only to be told about an hour before they were supposed to leave that the only bus that would be available were the ones taking students home.
Orchard Park co-coach Bruce Pryce is one of many feeling left out in the cold.
"They made the kids stay in school until the end of the day, and then we weren't allowed to transport ourselves or take a bus to the meet," he said. "For them to decide to go ahead without us .‚.‚. we didn't even go to watch."
Pryce said he hopes the ECIC committee looked at every possible scenario before deciding to move forward. "I hope they looked at all the options because they disappointed a lot of wrestlers," he said. "It seems like we weren't contacted to get our opinion on it, and the people on site made the decision for us that we couldn't compete. It takes a big event off our schedule, and I hope they really did the best they could before deciding they couldn't include us in the tournament in anyway."
Among those who didn't get a chance to compete for an ECIC I title was Frontier's Rocco Russo, not only the top seed in the tournament, but the No. 1 seed in WNY. Also staying home was the No. 1 seed at 215, Josh O'Connor of West Seneca West. A pair of No. 2 seeds: Danny Graham of West Seneca East at 96 and Collin Gleason of Frontier at 119 were no-shows. At 121, four of the top eight seeds weren't there and at 145 the Nos. 2, 3 and 5 seeds didn't make it.
"When I looked at the teams that weren't able to wrestle, I felt bad," said Pryce. "The worst part is preparing all week, and then after school, an hour before you're supposed to leave, being told you're not going."
---Mary Jo Monnin