Skip to main content

Three students have spent the past months competing as shot put athletes at Cambridge-Isanti High School in Minnesota, but all of their hard work may be for naught because the Minnesota State High School League is choosing to ban them from the playoffs due to a clerical error made by the school. 

What happened? Shari Wiltrout, mother of one of the students, Evelyn Wiltrout, tells Bring Me The Sports that a coach failed to enter the names of the three athletes into the Section 7AAA tournament, which is set to begin Friday at Forest Lake High School. 

Impacted by the error is Wiltrout, a senior, along with junior Erin Baker and a third student who is a sophomore. Baker reached the section finals last year and Wiltrout, in her first year as a shot put competitor, won the Mississippi 8 Conference championship and is ranked No. 2 in the section. The top two finishers in the section tournament qualify for next week's state tournament. 

The parents of Wiltrout and Baker emailed the Minnesota State High School League early Wednesday morning after receiving a "gut-wrenching call" from Cambridge-Isanti girls track & field coach Michael Galligan the night before. Galligan called to say the trio of shot put athletes were ineligible due to the clerical error. Despite competing all season, the failure to submit their names into the tournament made them ineligible. 

Simple fix, right? Wrong. The MSHSL has been steadfast in its policy. 

"We have been told by the head coach that this decision is final, but conversations have been ongoing between the section ADs and officials at MSHSL. We strongly believe that these student athletes deserve their opportunity to compete this Friday," an email to MSHSL leaders from the Wiltrouts and Bakers reads. 

Charlie Campbell, the associate director of the MSHSL, responded a few hours after their email was sent. Campbell's full response was provided to Bring Me The Sports and it reveals that Campbell denied the request, citing an effort to maintain "uniformity and consistent application of the entry process and Rules and Policies."

Campbell then told the Wiltrouts and Bakers to "work with" Cambridge-Isanti school officials should they have further questions or concerns. In response, the Wiltrouts and Bakers argued that "that these female athletes did absolutely nothing wrong and are being punished due to the mistaken inaction of a coach."

"This is an unfair, unethical, and inequitable application of policies to the detriment of student athletes," they wrote. As of 12 p.m. Thursday, the families had not received an update from the MSHSL. 

In May, the MSHSL suspended five high school boys golfers for competing in "too many" elite tournaments, only to reinstate all five after legal action was threatened. 

The Wiltrouts and Bakers have also threatened legal action. 

"It is our intent to file an allegation of wrongdoing with the Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor and any other interested governing bodies and also to share the stories of these athletes with the media," they warned. "The fact that these female track athletes are being treated with such a different approach to the male golf athletes highlights an inequity and an egregious violation of the beliefs MSHSL was founded upon and we do not believe is acceptable."

The MSHSL has not responded to Bring Me The Sports' request for comment.