The battle between the WIAA and Hayden Halter continues.
The WIAA has filed a petition to appeal a Racine County court’s decision that allowed Halter to resume wrestling by placing an injunction on a suspension for unsportsmanlike conduct penalties that would have ended his season.
Halter, a sophomore at Waterford, went on to win the Division 1 120-pound title at the state individual wrestling tournament Saturday in Madison, his second state championship.
If the WIAA’s petition is granted and, subsequently, the injunction is reversed, Halter’s state title could come under question
A court of appeals will hear the WIAA’s petition for an appeal of the decision and, if the court grants permission, the case would be allowed to proceed to where a ruling would be made on the appeal.
“We are pursuing a review of the decision,” a WIAA spokeperson told the Journal Sentinel. “We think the filing speaks for itself, and at this time, we are directing our focus and efforts on the tournaments and the many student-athletes, schools and communities involved with them.”
During a Southern Lakes Conference championship match on Feb. 2, Halter received two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties – one for questioning an official’s call and one for flexing his arm. According to the official, Michael Arendt, Halter responded to a call at the end of the match with profanity and flexed his muscles and shouted at an opposing crowd from Burlington, which was where Halter attended and wrestled as a freshman.
WIAA rules mandate a one-match suspension for anyone who receives two unsportsmanlike penalties in a match, which made Halter ineligible to compete in the regional meet at Pewaukee. Without wrestling at regionals, Halter would not have been able to advance in the postseason.
The Halter family and its lawyers, however, took the WIAA to court, where Racine County Circuit Court Judge Michael Piontek issued an injunction to block the suspension. Halter did not lose a match after that.
“There’s nothing we did to twist anything,” Waterford head coach Tom Fitzpatrick said following the state final Saturday. “The judge that oversaw it said the same thing. He felt there was overwhelming evidence in our favor. That’s why we pursued it. (Halter) didn’t do anything wrong and it shouldn’t be taken away from him.”
The WIAA’s case
The WIAA is presenting two primary issues as it contests “whether the circuit court erred in granting the temporary restraining order.”
The first is the court’s second-guessing of the official’s specific calls. The second is regarding the court involving itself “in the internal affairs” of the WIAA’s administration of its own rules.