BATAVIA – Sydney Perry, the Team USA No. 2-ranked 145-pound wrestler in the nation and currently an undefeated defending state champion, won her eligibility appeal to the IHSA on Thursday and will compete at this weekend’ state tournament in Bloomington.
Perry, a Batavia junior, competed in the U17 division at the Klippan Lady Open in Sweden for Team USA last weekend and won a silver medal. Perry was initially suspended from the IHSA state competition due to Batavia girls wrestling coach Scott Bayer self-admitted failure to submit a proper competition request form with the IHSA.
“That was on me,” Bayer said when reached by phone on Thursday. “Because we didn’t submit that form, that was the technicality [The IHSA] suspended Sydney for. We appealed it. I think, ultimately, they made a really good decision
“It’s in the bylaws. I never had this situation before, so I didn’t know to look for it and it was an honest mistake. Obviously, I was tweeting about Sydney being in Sweden , so I think they knew I wasn’t trying to get away with anything. It simply was an oversight on my part, which is appealable, because it was no fault of Sydney’s; No fault of her parents [or] no fault of our school. It was just an oversight on my part.”
Batavia will still send their two additional state qualifiers in senior SueSue Paw and freshman Lily Enos. Bayer, however, is suspended from attending the competition and the program is on probation from the IHSA.
“[Perry is] excited to face the competition,” Bayer said. “She is looking forward to battling for another state title. Whoever she meets along the way, I think she’s just happy to compete.”
The IHSA released a statement Thursday evening outlining its decision.
“The Board felt that the ineligibility for the student-athlete from Batavia High School occurred as a result of an administrative oversight,” IHSA executive director Craig Anderson said in the statement. “Had the school completed the proper IHSA paperwork, an exemption would have been granted for the student-athlete to compete in the USA Wrestling Tournament that created this issue.
“The Board restored her eligibility to compete in the 2023 IHSA Girls Wrestling State Finals, but levied a suspension against a member of the coaching staff and placed the program on probation for next season.”
Perry is not the only prestigious competitor who had cloudy status ahead of Bloomington.
Valerie Hamilton, a junior for El Paso-Gridley High School, won the Class 3A sectional title at 145 pounds two weeks ago, and was initially ruled ineligible due to an infraction against bylaw 3.105, which precludes high school athletes competing against collegiate teams.
Hamilton, the Team USA No. 1 ranked 138-pound wrestler in the country, is now eligible to complete the 2022-23 season.
“The Board ruled the student-athlete from El Paso-Gridley eligible based upon their perception that the current by-law contains ambiguous language when it references competition against collegiate athletes in a team setting vs. an individual setting,” the IHSA said in its statement.
“It is the Board’s belief that high school athletes should not be competing against collegiate athletes during the high school season, and the Board has begun a process of developing a plan to propose changes to the current by-law language prior to the next IHSA legislative process in the fall of 2023. They believe that these proposed changes will create greater clarity for our schools.”