Assistant Sports Editor

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling.

It must be nice to be perfect.

It must be a great feeling to never having made a mistake.

All of us go through life without one single misstep, one bad moment or one error, right?

Right?

Of course not.

We’re human, warts and all.

That’s what the WPIAL fails to understand in the Daniel Layton situation.

Layton is a senior at Waynesburg High School and one of the best high hurdlers in the state. He is the defending WPIAL Class AA champion in the event but won’t be allowed to compete in the event at the WPIAL Championships, which will be held Thursday at Slippery Rock University.

Why can’t he compete in the 110 hurdles?

Because his father, Rick, who also is the Raiders’ track coach, made a mistake.

When finalizing a performance list last week, Rick Layton, meant to remove his son from the 300 intermediate hurdles. Instead, when he submitted the form via his phone, he accidentally removed him from his strongest event, the 110 high hurdles. The mistake wasn’t caught until the deadline passed and the list released.

There was no malfeasance here, no attempt to deceive or gain an advantage. Only a mistake, one that could and should be corrected.

When Waynesburg appealed to the WPIAL, its board could have shown some compassion and understanding. Instead, the board voted 12-3 to deny the appeal and force Waynesburg to take the appeal process to the PIAA. Whether the Laytons are successful in its appeal process with the PIAA doesn’t matter.

The WPIAL, minus the three voters who supported

Layton, blew it, again. Rules are rules, they say. Make one exception and the whole process is destroyed.

Bull-loney.

There have been instances in the past that were resolved differently. One that comes to mind happened a while back and involved a Trinity wrestler who was listed about 50 pounds higher than he should have been for the postseason because of a clerical error. He was allowed to compete, albeit at a slightly higher weight.

If Layton is allowed in, wouldn’t that disrupt the current format and knock the last qualifier from the event?

C’mon.

Keep everyone in the event and run the preliminaries in the same way. Simply add one extra heat with Layton, running by himself, the penalty for making the clerical error. Offer that to Waynesburg and I’m sure it would be immediately accepted. Then, take the top eight times to the finals. The extra heat will take a little less than 15 seconds of meet time if Layton doesn’t clip a hurdle. It will be the most watched heat of the tournament.

Is this special treatment? Yes.

Would we be talking about this if it involved a lesser athlete? Maybe, but not with the same emotion as this predicament.

Won’t this open the door for other appeals? Yes.

Maybe a better question would be this: Who does the WPIAL represent, the athletes or the rules? I’m not calling for the demolition of standards. They are important in setting the structure of all the athletics competed in by athletes and ruled over by the WPIAL. But there has to be some wiggle room for the Daniel Laytons of the world.

That’s what the WPIAL doesn’t seem to understand.

Assistant sports editor Joe Tuscano can be reached at jtuscano@observer-reporter.com

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