Referee clears up controversial match from state tournament
Of all the exciting matches that highlighted the recent Chevron/HHSAA State Wrestling Championships, one stood out as a puzzler for both serious and casual fans.
The 135-pound boys final between Waiakea's Ryan Higa and Mililani's Chad Diamond was the highest-scoring duel of the tournament. It was also the most bizarre, with one confused wrestler at the finish.
Stoppages during the match added to the drama, but head official Max Miura explained them in detail. Miura, a former college-level wrestler and high school coach, has been a referee for 16 years. He has also taught band for 29 years, which was only fitting because this particular match required a conductor's finesse.
The confusion began in the second period with a second stoppage used by Higa for an injury.
"After the delay, (Higa, who was designated as red) chose down on the restart. I indicated to the table, 'Red chooses down,' and the scorekeeper mistakenly put the arrow in the third-period box -- but we were still in the second period.
"On the restart, all remaining points scored in the second period were put in the third period box while we were still in the second period. The clock operator was correct in starting the clock with about a minute left in the second period, but the scorecard was incorrect."
The complexity of the problem required some serious clarification. That came at the end of the second period. In the meantime, another stoppage occurred. A third stoppage for injury is an automatic injury default.
At that point, Miura raised Diamond's hand in victory.
"That third injury timeout should have terminated the bout," Miura said. "But after discussion, I reversed the third injury timeout to resolve a problem with (Higa's) contact lens. The first two timeouts were used to treat pain and discomfort. That's why I reversed the initial call."
Back to the scoring issue.
"At the conclusion of the second period, the score clock had period 2 listed, 10-10 score, which was correct," Miura said. "Red chose down and we proceeded with the third period. Red immediately scored an escape within the first 5 seconds. I awarded the (1-point) escape, so the score should have read 11-10, red. (The) towel person waved and said that the regulation match is over, the score was tied and it should be overtime.
"When I looked at the score clock, time was reset to 1:00 and period 4, 10-10 score, which was incorrect. The clock operator had cleared and reset the time and did not add escape point and advanced period to overtime period 4," Miura noted.
"I checked the score card and it showed scoring in the third period. It took me awhile to figure this out because it was so messed up. The Mililani coach further confused the situation as he claimed it was still the second period. When I finally figured out the problem, on the scorecard, I had to draw a new box for period 3, put arrow down for red in the third-period box (red chose down), add one for red on the scorecard.
"On the score clock: reset clock to 1:55, add one point to red (11-10), change the period number from 4 back to 3. Then, we finally completed the third and final period."
"These problems caused a 5-minute-plus delay as it took me awhile to figure out what was wrong. Then more minutes to fix it," Miura said. "Wrestling is a very complex sport with complex rules. Half of the rules are clear while the other half is judgment."
In the end, one wrestler's joy was another wrestler's agony. Higa captured the championship while Diamond was in shock, thinking erroneously that he had the lead in the final seconds. Higa won, 17-16.