Baranoski Continues Pioneering as Official

February 28, 2019

By Jeff Chaney
Special for Second Half

It took two decades, but Casey Baranoski is on the brink once again of reaching wrestling's highest stage in the state of Michigan.

As a wrestler for Comstock Park High School during the late 1990s, Baranoski was a pioneer in the sport, becoming the first female in the state to record more than 100 wins while wrestling in the 103 and 112-pound weight classes.

She finished with a highly respectable 123-38 record for the Panthers, and was a two-time Regional qualifier.

But she could never take that final step to make it to the MHSAA Individual Finals.

"I got to Regionals, and I kind of choked," said Baranoski, a 1998 graduate.

Now Baranoski is a pioneer in the sport once more, as two weeks ago she officiated the Division 1 Individual Regional at Grand Haven High School, one step away from state.

"This is a fun sport to be part of, and it never quite gets out of your blood," Baranoski said. "(Me getting into officiating) is my brother Tom's fault. He got me to ref for the first time. And I work for a credit union, so I have banker's hours, so it was perfect for my schedule. It just worked out."

That start was five years ago, and slowly Baranoski has been working on her craft in stripes, earning the much needed experience it takes to earn an MHSAA Tournament assignment.

Unlike as a competitor, an official’s quest to make the Finals is not entirely in her or his hands. Officials are graded each match and tournament they work during the season by the coaches, and grades are tabulated. With high enough scores, an official might just get an invitation to ref the sport's best athletes.

Steve Shutich, who has been officiating high school wrestling in Michigan for 29 years, was the head official at the Grand Haven Regional two weeks ago, and he believes Baranoski is close to getting her ticket stamped for the trip to the Finals at Ford Field.

And he should know – he has officiated 16 individual and four team Finals.

"She did well," said Shutich, who is on the board of the West Michigan Wrestling Officials Association. "It proved that she is for better matches. She held her own that day."

Baranoski believes she is up to the task as well.

"I thought I did pretty well that day. It was nice to be accepted by the coaches," Baranoski said. "Wrestling and effort go hand in hand, and you have to rely on effort, not only as a wrestler, but also as a ref. I didn't get booed out of the gym, so I think I did pretty well."

Baranoski did get some experience officiating state finals matches this year. She was an official at the first girls state finals hosted Feb. 3 by the Michigan Wrestling Association.

"That was pretty cool," Baranoski said. "There were 165 girls at Adrian College, and it was a good experience."

Experience that Shutich says Baranoski needs to take one more step for the MHSAA Finals.

"She just needs a little more seasoning," Shutich said. "She'll be ready. She has what it takes to be the best. She knows the sport."

But Baranoski wants no favors.

"I want to earn it down there. I don't want it gifted," Baranoski said. "If my ratings are there, great. If it happens that way, outstanding."

PHOTOS: (Top) Casey Baranoski raises the arm of a winner during the Girls Wrestling Finals on Feb. 3 at Adrian College. (Middle) Baranoski watches for a pin. (Photos by GRW Action Photography.)

Be the Referee: Softball Interference

By Paige Winne
MHSAA Marketing & Social Media Coordinator

June 6, 2023

Be The Referee is a series of short messages designed to help educate people on the rules of different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials.

Below is this week's segment – Softball Interference - Listen

We’re on the softball diamond today for a “You Make the Call.”

Runners are on the corners with no outs. The batter hits the first pitch in the air and into foul territory near the first-base line.

The runner on first interferes with the first basewoman attempting to make the catch, and the ball falls to the ground.

What’s the call?

  • Is it the runner on first and the batter are out?
  • The batter is out and the runner stays at first?
  • Or the ball is dead immediately, the runner on first is out and the batter is charged with a foul ball?

If you said the ball is dead immediately when the interference takes place and that the runner is out, with the batter returning to the batter’s box with a one-strike count … you made the right call!

Previous Editions:

May 30: Officials Registration - Listen
May 23: Soccer Offsides or Goal? -
May 16: Track & Field Exchange Zones - Listen
May 9: Girls Lacrosse Self-Start - Listen
May 2: Baseball/Softball Overthrow - Listen
April 25: Fifth-Quarter/Third-Half Rule - Listen
April 18: Soccer Referee in Play? - Listen
April 11: Softball Strikeout - Listen
March 14: Basketball Instant Replay - Listen
March 7: Hockey Overtime - Listen
Feb. 28: Baker Bowling - Listen
Feb. 21: Ski Finish - Listen
Feb. 14: Swimming Touchpads - Listen
Feb. 7: In or Out-of-Bounds in Wrestling - Listen
Jan. 31: Over the Back - Listen
Jan. 24: Competitive Cheer Judges - Listen
Jan. 17: More Lines - Listen
Jan. 10: On the Line - Listen
Jan. 3: Basketball Measurements - Listen
Dec. 13: Pregame Dunks - Listen
Dec. 6: Gymnastics Judges - Listen
Nov. 22: Football Finals Replay - Listen
Nov. 15: Back Row Illegal Blocker - Listen
Nov. 8: Swim Turn Judges - Listen
Nov. 1: Soccer Referee Jersey Colors - Listen
Oct. 25: Cross Country Tie-Breaker - Listen
Oct. 18: Soccer Shootouts - Listen
Oct. 11: Safety in End ZoneListen
Oct. 4: Football Overtime Penalty - Listen
Sept. 27: Kickoff Goal - Listen
Sept. 20: Soccer Timing - Listen
Sept. 13: Volleyball Replays - Listen
Sept. 6: Switching Sides - Listen
Aug. 30: Play Clock - Listen
Aug. 23: Intentional Grounding Change
- Listen

PHOTO by Gary Shook.