HAMPTON—Tony Leonardi, the defending 140-pound Peninsula District wrestling champion, was ruled ineligible for this year's district tournament for violating the Virginia High School League's weight-control program.
That rule stipulates how much weight a wrestler can lose in a week after a baseline weight is established.
"It's not so much how much a wrestler goes up (in weight)," said Kevin Davis, an assistant principal at Phoebus who is the tournament director. "It goes to how much you lose and how quickly you lose it. (Leonardi's) was questionable."
He did not provide specifics of Leonardi's situation, but the weight-control program specifies how much weight a wrestler can lose in a week.
Because Leonardi, who would have wrestled at 145 pounds, didn't wrestle in the district tournament, he's ineligible for next weekend's Eastern Region tournament and the following week's state tournament.
"We've got to ensure that our kids are safe," Hampton principal Myra Chambers said. "I learned about it the next day and did my investigation in-house. Tony Leonardi is ineligible based on the VHSL's weight-loss program."
The question of Leonardi's weight loss came up at the district seeding meeting Wednesday night. Davis forwarded information to the VHSL on Thursday. Hampton appealed the decision Friday morning, but was turned down.
Leonardi, whose earlier confusion turned to anger later in the day, was clearly frustrated, saying "this was my year to win a state championship."
Hampton, the defending team champion, is in third place after the semifinals with 122 1/2 points. The Crabbers trail Phoebus (180) and Gloucester (141).
Correspondent Jeff Cunningham contributed to this story.