Casey Dearcorn of Powell brought his proposal to the Park County School District No. 1 board of trustees Tuesday evening after having it first denied by the middle school and then by Superintendent Kevin Mitchell.
Mitchell said the board decided Tuesday evening to support the administration’s recommendation and deny Dearcorn’s request. The wrestling proposal will not appear on next month’s school board agenda unless two or more board members wish to discuss it further.
Mitchell said there were multiple reasons to deny the request, including funding and practicality.
“Generally speaking, the lower the grade level, the higher the participation on most activities. We don’t have the capacity or the funding to start up more sports programs,” Mitchell said.
Dearcorn said a sixth-grade wrestling program is necessary due to the current state of club wrestling in the Big Horn Basin. Most Wyoming middle school students are wrestling through their schools, not local clubs, Dearcorn said. This has depleted the number of middle school competitors at wrestling meets.
Dearcorn said starting a sixth-grade wrestling program would be a “no cost” proposition, but Mitchell said that is not the main issue.
Mitchell said allowing sixth graders to wrestle would be unfair. The middle school offers wrestling for seventh- and eighth-grade students, but doesn’t have soccer or golf programs of any grade level.
“How do we single out wrestling and make it more important than other activities? We’re not going to,” Mitchell said.
If the district were to implement Dearcorn’s proposal, Mitchell said similar cases could be made for adding other sixth-grade sports.
“If the district denied their request, then this would certainly elevate wrestling to a status (above) the other programs,” Mitchell said.
Dearcorn, who was thanked by the board for his professionalism and cooperation, said he doesn’t see a downside to offering wrestling to sixth graders.
“It’s hard to understand why such a positive thing for the kids all around, which is being done all around the state, is not allowed to happen in Powell,” he said.
Dearcorn said there is a strong contingent of supporters in Powell that are in favor of adding not just wrestling, but other activities for sixth-graders as well.
But Dearcorn’s request wasn’t denied due to a lack of support. Mitchell said it was a decision heavily based on pragmatism.
“The district doesn’t have the funding or capacity to offer sixth-grade students the same activities as seventh- and eighth-grade students,” Mitchell said.