Cumberland Valley wrestling coach Dave Heckard announced Monday that he will not be on the sideline for the school’s wrestling team’s matches in the upcoming PIAA team tournament.
Heckard and school officials determined that it would be in the best interest of interscholastic athletics that the Eagles’ coach not be allowed to participate, as Heckard said in a statement that he released to The Sentinel Monday night.
“As of today, the Cumberland Valley School District along with myself have decided that it is in the best interest of interscholastic athletics that I do not participate as a coach in the PIAA State Team tournament this coming weekend,” Heckard wrote. “It is my job as a teacher, coach and adult to reflect the sportsmanship that I expect my athletes to adhere to on and off the mat.”
“My actions on Saturday at the District 3 team tournament were unacceptable and are not what I want my athletes to portray at any time during an athletic competition, as a student or as future citizens. We as humans will make mistakes, as a leader of young adults it is important that they too learn lessons by how I handle the disciplinary actions set forth by the Cumberland Valley School District and Athletic Department.”
“I have been a part of the Cumberland Valley School District my entire life and I stand along with them on the disciplinary action taken. Our administration along with our Athletic Director Mike Craig have my full support, and have always made the right decisions regarding any athletic disciplinary action taken by the school.”
“I expect all of my wrestlers, fans and families to handle this situation with the utmost professionalism and respect in that you are also a representation of our school and community.”
Later in the day, Pennlive reported that Central Dauphin coach Jeff Sweigard was suspended for Monday’s PIAA preliminary match with Upper Darby, according to Rams Athletic Director Chris Hunter.
Hunter was “not allowed” to comment further on the suspension.
Sweigart’s suspension and the removal of Heckard from participation in the state tournament was due to an incident that occurred in the last four bouts of Saturday’s District 3-AAA team wrestling finals.
Following a Cumberland Valley player’s illegal slam of his Central Dauphin opponent, Sweigart and the Rams’ trainer determined that the wrestler was unable to continue the match, resulting in an injury disqualification that gave the Central Dauphin wrestler the win.
Then in the final bout of the night, a Central Dauphin athlete raked his fingers over the face of his Eagles opponent, causing the official to pause the match. Heckard and the Eagles trainer then determined that Cumberland Valley’s wrestler was unable to continue, at which point the bout was decided in the Eagles’ favor.
The injury DQ tied the match at 28 and the district title was awarded to Cumberland Valley due to Criterion H — the most first points scored.
An abc27 video of the event shows Heckard strutting in front of the Rams bench after the eye-poke DQ, and Sweigard reacting and needing to be restrained.
A joint news release from Cumberland Valley and Central Dauphin released Monday reads as follows:
“The actions of the Cumberland Valley and Central Dauphin head wrestling coaches at Saturday’s match do not reflect the high standards of good sportsmanship and leadership that we expect our coaches to model for our athletes.
“While these two programs have a history of extraordinary accomplishments, this public display was unacceptable. It is important for both communities to know that success does not relieve a coach of the responsibility to exercise restraint and good judgment, especially in those moments when emotions might tempt a coach to behave otherwise.”
“The administrations of both the Cumberland Valley and Central Dauphin School Districts do commend our student athletes for their positive behavior on that difficult day.”