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Controversy mars Panther soccer season

Powell High School junior Cooper Wise, shown here making a play against Lander, is one of several Panther athletes who may have suffered the consequences of a meeting time change at last week’s state tournament. Powell High School junior Cooper Wise, shown here making a play against Lander, is one of several Panther athletes who may have suffered the consequences of a meeting time change at last week’s state tournament. Tribune photo by Randal Horobik

PHS shut out of all-conference roster after meeting moved

While the Powell Panthers spent last weekend staking their claim as the 2011 3A boys’ consolation champions, not a single player from the highest finishing team in school history will be able to claim all-conference status this season.

The Panthers were shut out of the all-conference rolls after a coaches’ meeting to determine the post-season honorees had its time changed without Powell head boys’ coach Travis Rapp or girls’ coach Brett Hanlin being informed. Rapp showed at the original meeting time, only to learn the meeting had been held nearly 12 hours earlier.

“The Class 4A coaches had their meeting in the evening as scheduled, but some of the 3A coaches wanted to hold the meeting early so they’d be free to leave if their teams weren’t playing on Saturday,” Rapp said. “They rescheduled the meeting for Friday morning and we were never informed.”

Powell wasn’t the only school affected. Rapp noted a coach from Douglas High School also arrived in the evening expecting to find a coaches’ meeting and was similarly surprised and dismayed to learn the all-conference balloting had already taken place.

Worse, in the time it took Rapp to track down what had happened, the all-conference selections in both the 3A West and 3A East conferences were released to the public. No Powell students appeared on either the boys’ or the girls’ list. Since the all-conference honorees are also used as the nominations for all-state recognition, it means the Panthers won’t have anyone receiving that post-season honor either when the results of all-state balloting get released in the near future.

Wyoming Coaches Association soccer representative Dean Schaff, also a soccer coach at Lander Valley High School, said a May 17 e-mail sent to everyone on his contact list contained the details of the time change for the 3A coaches’ meeting. It’s an e-mail that Rapp claims he never received.

While the lack of a Panther representative at the meeting didn’t automatically prevent Powell players from being selected for all-conference recognition, it did deprive the school’s coaches from serving as advocates for Powell players. It also meant that any Powell players considered for all-conference status had to have their names nominated by opposing coaches.

“We didn’t have the best season, but I definitely think we had some kids who were deserving of consideration,” Rapp said of the Powell boys’ team. “Dylan Ulmer scored 10 goals for us this season. Dan Katz, Cooper Wise and John Kissner — I may have had a hard sell in some cases, but they deserved to have their names in the discussion.”

Katz was a 2010 all-state selection for the Panther boys.

Rapp indicated that he’d been told by one coach in attendance at the meeting that at least a couple of the Panthers’ players were, in fact, brought up during the course of the all-conference discussion.

“They didn’t even have the kids’ full names though,” said Rapp. “It’s pretty frustrating. I thought we had kids that should have made it.”

“There are no safeguards in place,” Schaff said, when asked if there was any mechanism in place to ensure that students attending schools absent from the meeting receive due consideration for post-season awards. “I will do a better job next year to make sure this does not happen again. I apologize to all of the players, coaches and parents for this miscommunication.”

With all-conference lists already released to the public, Rapp said there’s little that he and the school can do about it.

“I don’t think putting in a complaint will do anything,” Rapp said. “It’s not right that (the students) didn’t have an opportunity, but there’s nothing we can really do about it. The ones I really feel bad for are the seniors. Everyone else has a second chance and can use this as motivation for next year.”

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