Rocky Point wrestler Kristopher Ketchum, who on Friday was reinstated from suspension after a court ruling, won his three bouts Saturday to qualify for next weekend’s county championship tournament.
Ketchum, who was disqualified from a tournament on Jan. 17, filed a lawsuit against Section XI, the governing body of Suffolk high school sports on Tuesday with two special requests for Suffolk Supreme Court Judge James Hudson — to hold a hearing as soon as possible and to allow Ketchum to continue competing in the days before they return to court.
Hudson granted the first request, setting the next court date for Feb. 13. But he declined the second request, thereby sidelining Ketchum.
In response, Ketchum’s family attorney, Deirdre Cicciaro of Port Jefferson Station, asked a panel of four appellate justices to review Hudson’s decision and reconsider.
The panel, of the Appellate Division Second Department in Brooklyn, sided with Ketchum, issuing a stay that allowed his high school wrestling season to continue at least until the resolution of the lawsuit.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity to wrestle in the league tournament,” said Ketchum, who scored a 7-3 decision over Miller Place’s James Rado to capture the 145-pound weight class in the Suffolk League VI tournament.
“It wasn’t easy today,” he said. “My training was off and I had quite a few people who tried to bring me down. So it was hard mentally also. I’m excited about winning but I also know I need to be better prepared for the next tournament.”
Ketchum will compete for the Suffolk championship in his class at the county tournament Saturday and Sunday at Suffolk County Community College’s Brentwood campus.
Ketchum, a senior, was called for a flagrant misconduct and disqualified from Suffolk’s dual-meet tournament. According to the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association handbook, an athlete ejected from a contest must miss the remainder of that contest and serve a mandatory one contest suspension.
The Suffolk dual-meet tournament is considered a multiple-day single event, so Ketchum was disqualified from wrestling for the remainder of the tournament. His next scheduled competition was the League VI tournament, and because it was mandatory that he sit out, it was impossible to qualify for the state tournament.
“I am extremely pleased with the decision of the court,” said his mother, Stephanie. “We fought this because it’s a big deal. Wrestling is our son’s passion, it’s his whole life. And the punishment didn’t fit the crime.”
According to Tom Combs, the executive director of Section XI, the Ketchum family filed an appeal with Section XI that was unanimously denied last week. On Tuesday, the Suffolk Supreme Court upheld the Section XI ruling.
“We consulted and followed the rules and guidelines of the section and the state,” Combs said. “Four judges in the New York State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division overturned the decision of the Suffolk County Supreme Court and the NYPHSAA policy. We will abide by the court’s ruling and Kris Ketchum will be allowed to participate in the League VI tournament this weekend.”
Ketchum’s ejection, according to referee Rich Boscarino, came after he heard Ketchum use profane language while leaving the mat after he won his 145-pound match against Commack.
“I wouldn’t do it any differently,” Boscarino said. “I’ve officiated more than 20 years and only disqualified two guys. I’m fair and follow the rules. I’d hit him with an unsportsmanlike conduct earlier for unnecessarily pushing his opponent.”
With Jim Baumbach