Central Catholic wrestler, dad upset over Section disqualification

ragostini@modbee.com bclark@modbee.com jsilva@modbee.comFebruary 28, 2014 

— Central Catholic High School wrestler Cristian Dominguez, who won his first match at an important regional meet about 36 hours after he was shot in the arm in a home-invasion robbery, was disqualified from the tournament Friday.

It was ruled that Dominguez did not have medical clearance from the school to compete, according to Billy Hylla, the school’s athletic director. Dominguez did receive clearance from meet officials with the Sac-Joaquin Section, which governs high school sports in the northern Central Valley and runs the wrestling event.

Dominguez, the section’s sixth-ranked wrestler in the 145-pound division, was told of the ruling after his first-round victory over Franklin High of Elk Grove’s Ali Khan. Dominguez was forced to forfeit that match and subsequently disqualified.

Dominguez and family members were in tears after the announcement.

“How can you get the clearance from the section officials to wrestle, and then have Hylla come out of nowhere and DQ him?” asked Dominguez’s father, David. “If he wasn’t cleared, why was he wrestling?”

Hylla did not touch on that point immediately after the disqualification.

“It breaks my heart,” Hylla said. “It’s such an unfortunate situation knowing what the family has been through this week. And to compound it all ... I feel terrible for Cristian. It’s not his fault. It kills me.”

Several attempts to reach Hylla later in the day were unsuccessful. Central Catholic coach Anthony Gonzalez could not comment on the issue but admitted there was an obvious breakdown in communication between school officials and the family.

David Dominguez said his son received a release to go home from the hospital after being treated there following Wednesday night’s attack at the family’s home in Salida. He also said Hylla was read back some of the language of the medical release over the phone Thursday night, and gave his OK.

It wasn’t immediately clear Friday evening what Dominguez specifically needed to receive clearance from the school to participate in the meet, which determines who wrestles at next week’s prestigious CIF State Meet in Bakersfield.

Hylla said he did not realize until 7 a.m. Friday that the family had not met the requirement to be cleared. It was not immediately known if Hylla ever spoke to the family Friday prior to the first match or who made the final decision.

Like all wrestlers at the two-day meet at the Stockton Arena, Cristian Dominguez was checked out by section officials Friday morning before the tournament, his father said.

During the check, or “groom” as it’s called, a doctor looks for any communicable diseases like ringworm or staph infection, according to section spokesman Will DeBoard. If a wrestler is wearing a cast, the doctor would check to make sure it’s safe for the opponent.

DeBoard said it’s “rare” when a wrestler is disqualified at that point.

Cristian said he felt no discomfort from the injury he suffered in the shooting, a dime-size wound on his right forearm. His forearm was bandaged during the match.

“I felt terrible for my son,” David Dominguez said from his home late Friday afternoon. “It felt like our own AD pulled the rug from underneath us. We just don’t understand why it happened. We can’t get a straight answer from our AD.”

David and Christian Dominguez were deemed heroes by the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department after they fought off four intruders who entered their home, allowing the mother, Martha Dominguez, and a younger son, D’Angelo, to escape to a neighbor’s house.

David and Cristian both suffered shotgun wounds before the suspects fled, the Sheriff’s Department said. They were taken to a hospital that night with injuries that were not life-threatening.

Cristian was released from the hospital Thursday and was at the school later in the day, vowing to win a match for his father, who remained hospitalized with a shotgun wound to his back and injuries to his head.

About 10 a.m. Friday, Cristian stepped onto the mat for his first-round match and easily won.

When word got out that there might be an issue, David Dominguez was seen waving a piece of paper in the air, pleading with Hylla and saying his son had clearance.

Cristian was scheduled to wrestle two more times Friday afternoon and, depending on those outcomes, likely would have wrestled Saturday for a spot in the state meet.

Cristian said he felt good in his opening match. He was devastated that he wasn’t allowed to continue.

“It makes you want to go harder next year,” he said.

Meanwhile, David Dominguez was nearly in tears hours later, describing the disappointment he felt for his son. “It’s like the Super Bowl,” he said. “You play all year for this one goal, only to get it stripped from you.”

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