February 8, 2005
For Dusty Jones and Alan Nosal, this was their one shot.
The two seniors had worked long and hard for the opportunity to compete for the first time on the biggest stage in Arizona high school wrestling — the class 5A state tournament.
Then, in a moment, that shot was taken away.
Jones, a heavyweight at Mountain View, and Nosal, a 171-pounder from Red Mountain, were both disqualified during pre-tournament skin checks Saturday at Marana Mountain View High School. A physician at the meet briefly examined both athletes and determined that each had contagious skin conditions and would not be allowed to wrestle.
"At first, I was just kind of in shock," said Nosal, who had a 29-10 record. "When the final call came in, ‘Sorry, you can’t get in,’ I bawled out my eyes. I didn’t know what to think and people tried to cheer me up, but what can you do?"
Nosal and Jones were two of six wrestlers eliminated due to skin conditions. In all six cases, the athletes had been examined by their own doctors, who then filled out the proper Arizona Interscholastic Association forms that cleared the athletes to compete. In Jones’ case, he had notes from two doctors.
But, in the end, the on-site physician has the authority to make the final determination and that judgment ended the season for six athletes.
"With any type of skin condition, you need to be cleared by a physician," said Red Mountain coach Nick Karantinos. "Everyone was following the rules and they have somebody, one doctor, say they can’t wrestle."
Attempts by the Tribune to contact the on-site physician failed.
Contagious skin conditions are a common problem for wrestlers. The sport is built on contact and that contact causes the skin to get irritated. Wrestlers deal with skin problems like ringworm and impetigo, which are contagious. To avoid the spread of any infections, officials examine the skin of the wrestlers before each meet.
At a typical meet, the referees will examine the athletes. If a problem area is detected, the athlete must produce a doctor’s note regarding that condition in order to compete.
At the 5A state meet on Saturday, there was an on-site doctor who examined those wrestlers with possible skin conditions. The state meet was the only meet this season that had an on-site doctor doing the examinations.
"I would say that if skin issues in wrestling are that big of a deal, why aren’t there physicians at all major tournaments?" said Mountain View coach Shawn Rustad. "Why is there a doctor at the state tournament and state tournament only?"
Of the six teams to have athletes eliminated, four — Mountain View, Red Mountain, Peoria Sunrise Mountain and Avondale Westview — filed protests with the tournament games committee. None of the teams was allowed to state its case for the committee, which met privately and voted unanimously to follow the doctor’s recommendation.
Those four wrestlers were each unique cases:
• Jones has had eczema for two years. Eczema is a non-contagious skin condition commonly known as dermatitis. Jones has been involved in contact sports during those two years and was a firstteam All-Tribune offensive lineman this past year for the Toros and was 31-2 on the mat this year.
Jones has been treating his eczema with lotions and saw one doctor before the 5A East Valley Region meet and a different doctor before the state meet. Both cleared him to compete.
But Saturday, Jones was told that the small red patches on his left forearm looked contagious.
"You dedicate yourself to one thing and nothing matters except that state championship," said Jones. "Then you get there and they don’t allow you to wrestle because of something you had no control over and you did everything that they asked you to do."
• Nosal did, in fact, have ringworm on his arm but had been treating the fungal infection for two weeks. He went to a doctor two days before the state tournament and was cleared to wrestle.
On Monday, Nosal had a small red dot about the size of a pea on his left forearm. That dot was deemed contagious on Saturday by the on-site physician.
"I feel like I’ve upset the team; I’ve done something wrong," said Nosal. "I blame this on me, but I went through the rulebook procedures and getting a doctor’s note and OKing it, and just someone like that had to say no."
• Sunrise Mountain junior Matt Peterson was bitten by a spider three weeks ago. The bite got infected and Peterson took steps to clear up the infection. He took an antibiotic shot as well as two prescription drugs. The 135-pounder was given the go-ahead to wrestle in last week’s West Valley Region meet. In fact, like Jones, Peterson had two doctors say he was free of infection.
"It’s like all of a sudden they have doctors there that are telling people that the other doctors aren’t correct," said Sunrise Mountain coach Randy Fernandez. "It’s just sad that one person can change a person’s life forever."
• Perhaps the most interesting case was that of Westview’s 119-pound wrestler Rafael Carranza. The sophomore was shot with a paint-ball gun on his stomach. His coach, Chris Goetz, said the quarter-sized scar on Carranza’s stomach had been there for over a year and he had been checked by doctors during that time.
Goetz said the on-site doctor determined the scar was from ringworm and looked contagious.
For now, all four wrestlers are resigned to their fate of being spectators when the meet resumes Friday at Glendale Arena. However, one parent has contacted lawyers to see if there is any legal action to be taken.
"I’m going to do everything I can do because I think he should be back in the tournament," said Misty McCoy, Jones’ mother. "I don’t think you can ever replace this opportunity."
Jones went to a doctor Monday to have a skin culture done to determine if his condition was contagious. Results of that test should be available in a week.
"When I get this piece of paper from this next doctor that says it’s eczema, I’m going to be irritated," said McCoy. "We would not have sent him there with ringworm. We would have been treating it."