Family Of Junior Wrestler Taking Belle Vernon School District To Court

BELLE VERNON (KDKA) — The family of a junior wrestler at Belle Vernon Area High School is taking the district to court.

They claim he is being denied a chance to compete in the WPIAL sectionals. He says he put on weight in order to help his team, and now he is being penalized.

Jarod Verkleern is an incredibly talented young wrestler for Belle Vernon.

He’s was recently told by his coach he’d be eligible to wrestle in an upcoming tournament, but the coach was mistaken, and now he cannot.

The young man’s family says it’s not fair and now wants the court to decide if he has one more shot at taking to the mat.

Verkleeren is 35-5 and in the top five in his weight class in the nation. But, for now, he won’t wrestle in Class AAA Section 2 Tournament on Saturday.

It’s all because the family says the young man got some bad information.

According to the family, Belle Vernon’s head wrestling coach Mike Doppelheuer told Verkleern he could wrestle at a different weight during a previous tournament and still maintain eligibility to wrestle at a lower weight for this week’s big tournament.

However, that would be against WPIAL rules, and as a result Verkleeren is now ineligible to chase a state championship.

“Wrestling is an individual sport, and fair is fair. The best way to settle this is a one-on-one competition with a wrestle-off,” said James Geibig, Verkleeren’s attorney.

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But Belle Vernon says that’s not the case, and a wrestle-off isn’t fair to the young men who may have already been slotted.

“If my client loses, he loses, but he’s being denied the opportunity to wrestle-off and we don’t think that’s fair,” said Geibig.

Wednesday’s hearing was continued so other wrestlers who could be impacted\ by any decision may be present. The hearing will resume Thursday at 11 a.m.

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