Tim McCall would have preferred to continue drills with his Father Judge teammates and not address questions about his scheduled matchup against a female wrestler.
But the thin-framed senior, with some light prompting from Judge coach Jim Savage, took a brief break from practice to give a short statement.
"I'm just glad to have the chance to compete," he said. "It's important to me."
McCall, who is more for action than words, confirmed that he plans to take on Mariana Bracetti's Tatyana Ortiz at 106 pounds in the District 12 Class AAA individual championships Saturday at Archbishop Carroll.
Then McCall happily returned to the mat, with a cameraman from a local TV station following his every move, and resumed going through his paces.
The contest between McCall, the No. 1 seed, and Ortiz, the No. 8 seed and a freshman, was nearly scratched.
That's because, until Tuesday, the Philadelphia Catholic League did not allow coeducational participation in wrestling. A male slated to face a female was required to forfeit the match.
When Bishop McDevitt, a member of the Catholic League, faced Palumbo Academy, of the Public League, in the District 12 Class AA team championships earlier this month, McDevitt athletic director Pat Manzi said, the Lancers forfeited four scheduled matches against female wrestlers.
But the Archdiocese of Philadelphia modified its rule Tuesday night, opening the door for a Catholic League male wrestler to square off against a female in a PIAA postseason tournament this season.
"The decision to take part in any postseason individual championship PIAA wrestling match will be at the discretion of the individual student and his parents," Kenneth A. Gavin, director of communications for the archdiocese, wrote Tuesday in an email to The Inquirer.
Gavin declined to comment on the possibility of the modification's remaining in effect next school year. He wrote Wednesday afternoon, "We are only addressing the matter at hand."
McCall, with the support of his parents, has decided to go forward with his bid to win a district crown Saturday - and, he hopes, find success in the Northeast regionals and states.
"Our athlete was put into a position that he had no control over," said Savage, who coached at the old North Catholic from 1999 to 2010. "All he wants is to go as far as his talents will take him."
McCall has a 28-7 record this season and has won 126 matches in his high school career. He is trying to qualify for states for the first time.
I'm going to give it all I have, 100 percent," McCall said two weeks ago. "But even if it doesn't happen, I'll know that I worked really hard and I don't know how much more I could have done."
Several female wrestlers from PIAA public schools are making an impact on the mat, including Upper Moreland's Amanda Walker and Interboro's Kyleigh D'Agostino, both at 106 pounds.
"The number of female wresters is really growing," Council Rock South coach Brad Silimperi said. "And I think that's great for our sport."
Silimperi, who directs Team Apache Wrestling Club in Trevose, Bucks County, has trained several females over the last two decades.
"I don't think gender is an issue," he said. "I think the more opportunities out there, the better it is for our sport."
Savage, who wrestled at North Catholic and La Salle University, assists Silimperi with Team Apache.
Will Savage, a math teacher at Judge, instruct McCall to change his approach against Ortiz on Saturday?
"Nope," the 41-year-old said matter-of-factly. "As coaches, we put athletes on the mat. It doesn't matter if the opponent is a boy, girl, or Martian."