Three girls who began Thursday banned from their section track and field meet — and from their chance to win a spot at the state championships — regained that opportunity Thursday night.
The Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) issued a statement that said Cambridge-Isanti shot putters Evelyn Wiltrout, Erin Baker and A'Nyjah Presswood would be allowed to compete in the Class 3A, Section 7 meet Friday at Forest Lake. They had been told Tuesday they could not compete because their coach left them off the entry list. After they asked the MSHSL to review the decision, they were told Wednesday it was final.
“We know this could not have happened if not for the advocacy of Minnesotans, really. It has become a great day, that's for sure”
The MSHSL cited "unique circumstances" in its statement, released by email: "After conducting a thorough review, the League has determined that, given the unique circumstances, participation by the omitted students would not impact the competitive integrity or effective management of the section meet. Therefore, the student athletes will be allowed to compete in the section meet."
"We are overjoyed and very pleased that they made the right decision," said Shari Wiltrout, Evelyn's mother. "We are grateful that these three girls will get the opportunity they worked so hard for. Common sense prevailed."
Evelyn Wiltrout, a senior who had been a softball player in spring until taking up track and field this year, was the Mississippi 8 Conference champion in shot put, with a distance of 36 feet, 9.5 inches, her personal best. It's a mark that ranks second in Section 7 and last season would have placed her 11th in Class 3A. Baker finished fourth and Presswood 20th in the Mississippi 8 meet. Baker's mark of 33-4.5 that day also places her among contenders to qualify for state.
Shari Wiltrout had said earlier Thursday that she was holding out hope the MSHSL would reconsider.
"If this was just another track meet, fine, but it's the section, with a chance to go to state," she said.
She said she never blamed coach Michael Galligan, who prepared the entry list.
"He made a mistake," she said. "I was very angry, and my anger at first was directed toward him, but Coach Galligan didn't do anything intentional."
Cambridge-Isanti Schools Superintendent Nate Rudolph had called it a "very unfortunate and unintentional situation."
"It was a mistake made by adults, and we take full responsibility for it," Rudolph said by email Thursday afternoon.
It's the second such reversal this spring by MSHSL. Five boys golfers who were told they would be suspended for playing too many rounds during the high school season also received relief from the MSHSL and were allowed to compete in section meets.
The MSHSL, in its statement, defended the process of setting the fields for section meets: "The roster registration process and deadline are essential for the effective functioning of postseason competition. It has proven highly effective and will continue to be enforced."
The situation got attention on social media, and Shari Wiltrout said that was appreciated and helpful.
"We have so much gratitude for those who expressed their support for these girls, the officials from our school who advocated for these girls and the people in the section who advocated.
"We know this could not have happened if not for the advocacy of Minnesotans, really.
"It has become a great day, that's for sure."