The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


September 20, 2011

Mat champ loses decision

TURBOTVILLE — State wrestling champion Zain Retherford will not be allowed to compete with the Benton Area High School team, according to Monday’s decision by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association District 4 Committee.

The seven voting committee members deemed him ineligible to wrestle competitively for Benton coach Russ Hughes’ team for one year after hearing three hours of testimony at Warrior Run Middle School.

“I feel horrible it had to come to this, but I had to stand up for the district,” said Line Mountain Superintendent David Campbell, who testified along with several others that the Retherfords relocated from the Line Mountain district to Benton in August for athletic purposes.

Zain’s father, Allen Retherford, said Benton would appeal the decision.

“It’s disappointing,” he said, adding that the committee members declined to give a reason for their decision, referring to their soon-to-be released report.

He denied moving his family as a way of improving his son’s chances at another wrestling championship.

In 2010, Zain won the state championship in Class AA at 103 pounds. This year, he won a bronze medal at 112. Today, he’s ranked seventh in the country in his weight class.

Retherford and his wife, Sarah, told the committee they moved from Dornsife to Benton in early August for three reasons: Mrs. Retheford’s ailing health, to be closer to Allen Retherford’s workplace and to place Zain in a less threatening school atmosphere.

The Retherfords said their son had been bullied by several members of the football team for four years and the family decided enough was enough.

Although Zain did not testify, his parents said they were aware of the bullying and had informed his coaches, including head coach Mike Martz, over the years. Allen Retherford admitted he didn’t take the bullying complaints to school administrators until August when the family had already made the decision to relocate.

“If it was this bad and had this much of an effect on your son, why didn’t you report it?” committee member Glenn Fogel asked.

Allen Retherford said he was close to the coaches, adding he had no issues with the coaches or the wrestling program at Line Mountain but just wanted to put it all behind the family.

“My son didn’t want to be there where the kids were calling him ‘faggot,’ ” he said.

Campbell denied Zain had been bullied at school or that it was the reason for the family’s move.

“Don’t you think we would have dealt with it if someone said the wrestling champ was being bullied?” he said, later showing the committee a Facebook exchange between Zain and a Benton wrestler in which they refer to each other as “gay.”

Martz recalled conversations with Allen Retherford about problems Zain was having with other students, but said he never heard the word “bullied” and didn’t believe the problems rose to that level.

“Is there a rift between football players and wrestlers? Yes, but I don’t consider that bullying,” he said.

Campbell, Martz, high school Principal Jeff Roadcap and school board President Troy Laudenslager depicted Allen Retherford as a parent who was overly involved in the wrestling program, going as far as questioning the hiring of new coaches and suggesting replacements when Martz resigned for personal reasons last November. Martz has since resumed coaching.

They said Retherford threatened last fall to leave the school district if “the wrong guy” was hired to coach the wrestling team.

“He tried to influence who would get the job of coach, and when he didn’t accomplish it, he began to formulate a plan,” Campbell said.

Although the committee members didn’t explain their reasoning for denying Zain’s eligibility to wrestle at Benton, some of their questions showed their skepticism.

Committee member Patti Cross, a Warrior Run principal, questioned the Retherfords on their decision to relocate to Benton, a school district considered to be Line Mountain’s main competition in wrestling.

“I’m having a problem with this because you say you moved to be closer to (Allen Retherford’s) work, the hospital and because of bullying, but there are three to four other schools closer to work and the hospital,” she said.

After hearing Sarah Retherford outline the family’s three main reasons for moving, committee member and Daily Item circulation director Fred Scheller questioned why she would mention bullying last.

“With all due respect, bullying should be first on the list, not last,” he said.

The other voting members of the committee are chairman Jim Zack, Chris Venna, Steve Gobble and Diana Barnes.

— Email comments to

Text Only
  • Prize claim cost man $1,829

    WINFIELD — Western Union is doing what it can to educate people about the risks in wiring money. An entire section on its website ( is devoted to providing information that might reduce the risk of people falling victim to fraud schemes.

    April 19, 2014

  • Reel good time enjoyed by 200 young anglers

    TREVORTON — It only took about three minutes for J.C. Wallish to reel in his first fish at the Little Shamokin Creek Watershed Association’s annual Youth Trout Derby on Saturday.

    April 19, 2014

  • Elytte Barbour's 'bad trip' put him on the road to prison, friend says

    SUNBURY — A former roommate of slaying suspect Elytte Barbour drove 450 miles from North Carolina to spend 45 minutes in the Northumberland County Prison with his best friend last week, and was not surprised when he heard Barbour say: “I am afraid to spend the rest of my life in jail.”

    April 19, 2014

  • bonehunt20a.jpg 60 dogs battle for biscuits at annual bone hunt

    It was a scene similar to ones playing out all over the nation this weekend: nervous parents holding baskets and bags, watching their little ones search for goodies in the grass.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Arizona tribe set to prosecute first non-Indian under a new law

    PASCUA YAQUI INDIAN RESERVATION, Ariz. — Tribal police chief Michael Valenzuela drove through darkened desert streets, turned into a Circle K convenience store and pointed to the spot beyond the reservation line where his officers used to take the non-Indian men who battered Indian women.

    April 19, 2014

  • Danville parents hope strike ends quickly

    DANVILLE ““ First-grader Madison Wild was sad she missed school Thursday.

    April 19, 2014

  • Schools ask state to waive 180-day rule

    Three area school districts have asked the Pennsylvania Department of Education to add up their hours instead of their days in order to reach the required amount of instruction time in the school year.

    April 19, 2014

  • Former Bucknell star in NBA playoffs

    ATLANTA — It really hit Mike Muscala a few days ago when he was listening to the Nets’ starting lineup at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

    April 19, 2014

  • State: Discard raw milk from Greenfield Dairy

    MIDDLEBURG — Consumers should discard raw milk purchased recently from the Greenfield Dairy of Middleburg, which also has temporarily suspended production after Listeria monocytogenes was discovered in the product following routine testing, the state Department of Agriculture announced today.

    April 18, 2014

  • Penn State police: Three posed nude at Nittany shrine

    STATE COLLEGE — Penn State police say three male students who reportedly posed nude for a photo at the university’s Nittany Lion Shrine face school discipline.

    April 18, 2014

The Daily Marquee

How do you eat your chocolate Easter bunny?

Feet first
Tail first
Ears first
     View Results
Photo Galleries
The Valley


Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.