Toppenish soccer team disqualified from state playoffs

WIAA determines team had a 20-year-old man playing

— The Wildcats boys soccer team has been disqualified from the state 2A playoffs and has had to forfeit a playoff game it previously won.

During an emergency session today, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association board today disqualified Toppenish for a having a 20-year-old player on the team. The man’s name has yet to be released.

Coach Uriel Gonzalez said he and the team new the player was 20 years old, but didn’t know they were breaking the rules.

“They registered him as a freshman at the age of 16, when he came here from Mexico,” Gonzalez said. “He was monolingual Spanish-speaking, and they thought he wouldn’t make it if they registered him as a junior.”

The board was investigating the eligibility of the student prior to issuing its finding.

“As a result of this finding, Toppenish High School has been deemed ineligible for the WIAA Boys Soccer State Tournament,” a statement from the organization said. “Toppenish has forfeited its win in the opening round of the state tournament against Sequim High School, and Sequim will now face Burlington-Edison High School in the quarterfinal round.”

Gonzalez said he never thought to check the age-limit rule, declining to release the man’s name.

“This is enough,” he said, noting the player is among the best on the team. “He’s devastated over what has happened.”

Toppenish defeated Sequim, 7-1, on Tuesday night and was schedule to play Burlington-Edison at Sedro Woolley at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, May 19.

The Sequim Wolves will now take the field in that state quarterfinal game.

“This is really devastating,” Gonzalez said. “It hurts the players. It hurts the program. We were just peaking. We felt were going to go all the way.

“Toppenish is a continual state tournament participant,” he said. “The Wildcats have placed in the past and were looking for their best finish ever. They won the district title to qualify for state.”

The Daily Sun was unable to reach Superintendent John Cerna or Athletic Director Brett Stauffer for comment.

Organization bylaw 18.4.0 is clear.

It requires all student athletes to be younger than 20 years of age on Sept. 1 for a fall sport, Dec. 1 for a winter sport and March 1 for a spring sport. Boys soccer is a spring sport, and post-season competition is currently under way.

The Toppenish Wildcats compete in the 2A Central Washington Athletic Conference, which includes Grandview, Prosser and Wapato, among others.

The WIAA board found the Wildcats player missed the cutoff date by about 3 months. As a result, the team is ineligible to compete further.


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