The postponement follows a Wayne County Circuit Court decision that restored Tolsia to second place in the regional tournament, qualifying the squad for Saturday’s state finals. Class A and AAA tournaments are proceeding as scheduled.
Tolsia had finished second at the regional tournament, but a 60-point penalty for what the commission maintains was an illegal and unsafe routine dropped the squad to fourth and out of the state tournament.
‘‘Championships should be won on the playing field, not in a courtroom,’’ commission executive director Gary Ray said in a statement. The commission expects to appeal the circuit court order to the state Supreme Court.
Mike Ranson, a lawyer for the Wayne County school board, called postponing the tournament ‘‘outrageous.’’
The circuit court ruled correctly that a tournament judge violated commission, Ranson said. The tournament judge had Tolsia perform its routine 26 times before the competition and could not decide whether it was safe before seeking help from a commission employee sitting in the stands. The employee determined the routine was not safe and told the judges to penalize Tolsia.
‘‘That’s about as unfair as you can get, I think,’’ Ranson said.
n The Tug Valley High School Panthers cheerleaders won their regional championship earlier this year and were scheduled to perform this Saturday at noon in the Charleston Civic Center Coliseum, but, because of the lawsuit by Tolsia, now the TVHS cheer team will have to wait for their turn on the floor.
Tug Valley Cheer Coach Tara Ellis said yesterday that her squad is disappointed they won’t be cheering in Saturday’s state competition, but she said the TVHS team will be ready whenever they get to perform.
“I respect the decision of the WVSSAC and I believe they need to fight this. If they don’t this will happen every year and whenever a team loses, they can just go hire a lawyer,” Ellis said. “I support the WVSSAC 100 percent. It’s just hard for my team, because we’re ready to compete. Basketball season starts for us soon and it’s going to be hard to get gym time, to go cheer all the ballgames and to practice and keep their routine up. But, we’re glad the WVSSAC is fighting this in court.”
Ellis said the Class AA cheer competition will now have to be moved to another venue, instead of competing at the Civic Center like the Class AAA and Class A cheer teams will do on Saturday.
“It’s heartbreaking that we have to wait, but I’m glad they’re fighting it because this is not fair. Every year these things happen to cheer teams and they have to live with it. Our cheerleaders are ready to go win state. We’ve worked hard for this. We don’t get to go to the Big Dance with everyone else, now we have to wait and go wherever,” Ellis said. “We were ready. This is a downer for us. We’re not going to let anything bring us down, but, at the same time, it’s a priviledge to go to state — you work your way there and earn that. This is the first year for Tug Valley in a double-A (cheer) competition at state and we don’t get to be there on the floor with everybody Saturday morning. We were fired up and ready and now we have to sit back and wait who knows how long.”
– Managing Editor Michael Browning contributed to this report.