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Wrestlers lose room of their own

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
February 11, 2008
— Parker High School wrestlers will lose their practice room after the high school expansion project is done, and supporters are upset about it.

The expansion is part of the $70.8 million, referendum-approved projects at Craig and Parker high schools.


School board member Todd Bailey said wrestling parents voted for the referendum not knowing they’d lose the room.


He said they would have voted against it if they had known.


“To have a program go backwards like this just doesn’t seem right,” Bailey said.


The wrestling program has been highly successful over many years. About 50 students are wrestling this year.


The wrestling-practice room is in the basement. Plans call for it to become a locker room.


More lockers are needed to create equity between girls and boys sports facilities, something Parker has lacked since it was built in 1967. The federal Title IX, enacted in 1972, requires equal opportunities in sports.


Officials have planned from the start that wrestling-practice space would move to the floor of the big, new gymnasium, said Doug Bunton, director of business services for the district.


But it appears that the change took the wrestling program by surprise.


Plans are for mats to be hoisted into the gym rafters and lowered to the floor when needed, Bunton said.


Bailey said he’s heard that hoist systems haven’t worked out at other schools.


Bunton found that building a new wrestling room would be impossibly expensive. Another option is to put a foldable partition in the gym at a cost of more than $200,000.


Bunton said he doesn’t know if referendum money could be stretched to pay for the partition. He won’t know until the project is closer to being finished.


Any cost would have to be doubled, because an improvement at Parker must be matched at Craig, Bunton said.


The district has made one accommodation: Instead of building the new locker room this summer, it will hold off until after the new gyms are built.


Gymnasium construction is expected to start in March or April and continue to about April 1, 2009, so wrestlers will have their room for one more season.


Bunton said the new gyms would need to be reinforced to handle partitions, and that structural work has been changed in the plans, in case the decision is to install the partitions now or 10 years from now.


Bailey wondered how the team will hold practices in the gym each day when other activities, such as a gymnastics meet, are taking place.


“To me, it’s just going to be a nightmare,” said Bailey, whose son wrestles for Parker.


Parker wrestling Coach Ron Cramer declined to comment on the situation.


Wrestling parent Jodi Rucinski looks at all the improvements the expansion project will bring. She looks at the fact that the swim, basketball, gymnastics and football all have their own facilities. She thinks wrestling is being left out and suspects the school is trying to get rid of the sport.


“Why do we have to lose our wrestling room? There has to be another solution,” Rucinski said. “I don’t think they’re thinking it through.”


Rucinski said she and others are frustrated at school administrators’ responses thus far.


“When we do go in for a meeting, they kind of give us the runaround without any answers,” she said.


A meeting to consider options was canceled by last week’s snowstorm. At least four school board members had asked to attend. Bunton said the meeting will be rescheduled.



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