West Virginia Wrestling

Making The Call ...

by Dr. Bill Welker

Part One, October 22 1997 - January 9, 1998
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January 9, 1998
Q: How does one become a registered wrestling official in the state of West Virginia?
Tim Miller
A: If someone is truly interested in becoming a registered wrestling official in West Virginia, all he or she has to do is contact the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission (WVSSAC)office. You should ask to speak to Mr. Jerry Trembush, Assistant Executive Commissioner, who is responsible for the area of wrestling. The Commission's phone number is 304/485-5494, and the address is as follows:
Route 9, P.O. Box 76
Parkersburg, West Virginia 26101

Q: After becoming a registered West Virginia wrestling official, how does one move in refereeing classification (or rank)?
Tim Miller
A: Actually, the process is too detailed to explain here. However, the WVSSAC publishes the "Official's Handbook," which spells out the procedure in its entirety. I am sure the WVSSAC would be glad to send anybody a handbook upon request.

Q: What classification must a registered wrestling official in West Virginia possess in order to be eligible for the state wrestling tournament?
Tim Miller
A: An official in West Virginia must be at least a Class II referee (that involves a minimum of four years experience) to be considered for the state wrestling tournament. And note, it is the WVSSAC that has the final say regarding who is selected to work the state wrestling tournament.

Q: What are the qualifications needed to officiate a pee wee wrestling tournament?
Gut Wrench
A: To my knowledge, anyone can officiate at most pee wee wrestling tournaments if hired. However, I am sure that the majority of pee wee tournament directors try to acquire registered officials. Furthermore, it is my understanding that if the pee wee wrestling tournament is sponsored (or sanctioned) by the AAU, the referees must be registered officials.

Q: How difficult is it to officiate pee wee wrestlers?
Gut Wrench
A: It can be quite challenging at times. The following three reasons come quickly to my mind:
1. To begin with, many of these little wrestlers are still in the learning phase of their wrestling skills (or moves) development. Thus, it is often difficult as an official to "figure out" what they are going to do next. Sometimes they can really surprise you by a quick change in direction! High school officiating is usually much easier in this regard.
2. Secondly, it would be wise for the pee wee official to wait a "bit" longer when making his calls--than he normally would in a high school match. Why...because sometimes these young matmen do not quite finish the moves you thought they would. Many officials have had to "wipe off" points in pee wee wrestling tournaments because they awarded them too fast. Experience has taught me that a "ref" should try to anticipate the outcome of a move in a youth competition, but wait a little longer before "making the call."
3. Finally, sometimes an official can make a "perfect call" during a pee wee wrestling tournament, and catch "royal heck," because an inexperienced coach does not know all the rules. This can be very frustrating for the official. Good questions, Gut Wrench!

Q: Can the top (or offensive) wrestler score near-fall points when his hand, arm, etc. is under the bottom (or defensive) wrestler's shoulders?
Jim LeMaster
A: If the bottom wrestler's two shoulders are four inches or less from the mat, near-fall points (two or three) can be scored. It does not matter if the top wrestler's hand or arm is under one or both of the bottom wrestler's shoulders in this situation. As long as the above criteria has been met, near-fall points can be earned.

January 7, 1998
Q: Why do the rules include the loss of a contact lens under an "injury time" time out? After all, if a wrestler is wearing a knee brace, elbow brace, or shoulder stabilizer, the referee allows for an "official's time out" for adjustment.
Tim Queen
Assistant Wrestling Coach RCB
A: Good question, Tim. To be quite honest, I don't know, unless it has to do with the prolonged time it might take to find a lens. But when you really think about it, contact lenses are worn for eye ailments, just like the brace is worn for a knee problem. Personally, I think the loss of a contact lens should come under the same rule as the other special equipment you mentioned, and be designated as an "official's time out."

January 7, 1998
Q: I have the following questions:
1) Is two seconds long enough to determine a pin in high school wrestling?
2) Are most officials in the proper position to rule on a pin?
3) If Wrestler A has Wrestler B on his back and is in the act of pinning him, what is the ruling if Wrestler B screams out in pain?
4) Is wrestling a difficult sport to officiate?
Mat Rat
A: I believe (1) that two seconds is long enough to call a pin in high school wrestling. Afterall, in college it is only one second.
(2) The official must be in position to see the pin or he shouldn't call it.
(3) If a wrestler is being turned or is on his back and screams out in pain, the match must be stopped by the official and one of the following will occur:
* If near-fall criteria is about to be reached, the top wrestler would receive 2 match points.
* If near-fall criteria has been obtained for only a fraction of a second, the top wrestler would receive 3 points.
* If the top wrestler has already acquired a three-point near-fall when the bottom man screams out, he when then earn 4 points.
4) Officiating wrestling can be extreming difficult at times, especially in close "out-of-bounds" line calls and questionable stalling. Another difficult area is determining control under certain unorthodox situations. Great queries, Mat Rat!

January 2, 1998
Q: What are the rules regarding a coach starting wrestling practice two weeks prior to the official starting date in West Virginia? Also, what are the consequences for a coach who permits his wrestler to compete without completing the mandatory 14 practices? These questions pertain to the junior high level.
A: Be it junior high or high school wrestling, I believe the same rules apply in West Virginia. A coach can not start wrestling practice before the starting date, which this season was November 17, 1997. And each participant must have the required 14 days of practice. As to the exact ramifications for breaking these rules, you will have to contact Jerry Trembush at the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission (WVSSAC)for the specific penalties. In my capacity as state rules interpreter, I deal only with the "rulebook" rules of wrestling. I have no jurisdiction in the area of additional rulings created by the WVSSAC.

December 24, 1997
Q: Can a coach who is not paid by the school (a volunteer coach) approach the scorer's table to request a conference with the match official?
A: If a volunteer coach is approved by the school board (which in WV also includes taking the coaching classes), he has every right to approach the scorer's table for a conference with the match official.

December 16, 1997
Q: There has been some confusion regarding weight certification and moving up weight classes. Could you please clarify this ruling?
Jack Cullen
Head Coach
Point Pleasant High School
A: In West Virginia, the weight permit (certification) forms must be sent to the WVSSAC office and postmarked by no later than December 23rd. Now here comes the important part. Once the certified minimum weight has been determined, a wrestler can not weigh-in more than one weight class above his certified minimum weight, or he will automatically recertify himself at a higher weight class. The following are two examples that should clarify this rule for you.

Example 1: Wrestler A's certified minimum weight is the 103-pound weight class. His coach weighs him in at 112 pounds and then has Wrestler A compete at the 119-pound weight class for the dual meet (or tournament). Since Wrestler A weighed-in only one weight class above his certified minimum weight, he is still certified to compete at 103 pounds.

Example 2: Wrestler B is also certified to wrestle at the minimum weight class of 103 pounds. However, his coach weighs Wrestler B in at 119 pounds for a dual meet (or tournament), and wrestles him there as well. Since Wrestler B weighed-in at 119 pounds, his new certified minimum weight would be re-established at 112 pounds.

I hope this clears up the confusion for everybody. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, Coach Cullen!

December 8, 1997
Q: Some time ago, I helped treat a wrestler who experienced a displaced patella while wrestling. It was an excruciating injury and the boy was writhing in pain. During the EMS care, someone was hovering close by, videotaping everything. Even with today's general degradation of integrity, this seems somewhat disrespectful to the injured wrestler. Did the officials have to allow this?
Bruce Boggs
Roane EMS
A: If I were the official in a situation like the above, I would only allow authorized personnel on the mat with the injured boy, including his parents if present. I would NOT allow videotaping of the treatment. However, should the parents request such videotaping, I would then permit it...but only upon parental request. Interesting occurrence, Bruce!

December 4, 1997
Q: What is the rationale behind the rule regarding singlet "shoulder straps" being kept up after the match, in the bleachers, etc. Once one of my wrestlers was scratched during a match when he had his opponent in a near-fall position. The official was watching the shoulder blades (as he should have been) and did not see the scratching incident whether intentional or not. After shaking hands, my wrestler lowered one shoulder strap to look at the scratched area when he left the mat. Immediately, the official penalized him a team point for lowering his shoulder strap. Does this come under the heading of unsportsmanlike conduct? Furthermore, I realize the need for decorum, but I have seen many coaches and wrestlers say and do much worse things on the mats without a penalty.
Jim LeMaster
Milton Middle School
A: The purpose of the rule for lowering a shoulder strap at matside is one of physical appearance. The National Federation feels that it does not look good, from the public's point of view, to lower shoulder straps. (Note: The SSAC takes this rule a step further in that the shoulder straps can not be lowered anywhere in the gym.) The offense is considered an act of unsportsmanlike conduct (Rule 7-4-2), and would be penalized accordingly, depending on when it occurred.

Now as to your specific situation, I believe you have a very legitimate concern. Rule 3-1-12 states "The referee shall meet promptly and in the spirit of good sportsmanship any situation developing unexpectedly." If you or your wrestler immediately explained to me why the shoulder strap was lowered (a scratch being the cause), I would enforce the above rule and wipe off the unsportsmanlike conduct call due to extenuating circumstances.

I am not disagreeing with the referee's call because I was not there to see everything. I am just explaining what I would have done from the information you gave me. Good question, Jim.

December 2, 1997
Q: What is the rule pertaining to blood, including a bloody nose?
-- Bill Corder
A: Any contestant that is bleeding (including a bloody nose) will be charged with a bleeding timeout. Each contestant shall have a maximum cumulative time of five minutes to terminate any bleeding. The number of timeouts for bleeding is left to the discretion of the referee, but the maximum allowable time is five minutes.
Anytime an individual is bleeding, he must first control the bleeding and then, if necessary, you can use injury time or recovery time. If, however, bleeding is not controlled in five minutes the match shall be terminated. There is no use of injury time or recovery time to control bleeding once the five minutes cumulative time has expired. Note, clean up time (the uniform or mat) does not count for blood time if the bleeding has been controlled.
An additional rule change this year is that now coaching is allowed to a bleeding contestant during blood timeouts.

December 1, 1997
Q: Wrestler A shoots for a takedown. At the same time, Wrestler B also shoots for a takedown. They bang heads injuring each other, but Wrestler A falls on top of Wrestler B. Would Wrestler A score a takedown? -- Nick Foster

A: If both wrestlers were injured prior to the takedown and the official is alert to the action, no takedown would (or should) be scored. Good question, Nick.

November 18, 1997
Q: If both teams have multiple wrestlers weighing in at a certain weight class, which squad has to declare its wrestler first at that weight class during a meet? -- Brent Sams
A: The wrestler who has the choice of position in the second period of that weight class must report to the scorer's table first.

Q: On the referee costing a wrestler the match, I agree with your answer on sportsmanship. However, referees are human and will on occasion make a mistake. I know, like baseball, you can't argue judgment calls. Still, in baseball, you can continue the rest of the game under protest. Is there an official way to question a call or rule interpretation by an official during the course of a match? -- Brent Sams
A: First of all, Brent, I agree 100-percent with you that there are times when officials make mistakes. Briefly stated, you can refer to Rule 6-6-4 & 5 in the National Federation Wrestling Rulebook to learn the proper decorum for protesting a potential error made by the referee or scorekeeper. (Your coach should have a rulebook.) But in wrestling, it must be corrected, in most cases, right away. So the coach should certainly be appropriately persistent if he knows he is absolutely right about a situation.
Now on a personal note, the experienced and secure official will always listen to the coach's complaint involving a questionable call if approached by the coach in a professional manner. Brent, I have witnessed outstanding officials change their incorrect calls when possible, and at other times, tell the coach "I blew the call" when changing it was impossible (say an inadvertent whistle). I, too, have done the same under similar conditions. Keep in mind, the dedicated referee cares deeply about being fair, and often agonizes over close calls. VERY INTUITIVE QUESTIONS, BRENT! KEEP THEM COMING DURING THE SEASON!

November 17, 1997
Q: If two wrestlers are in tournament competition, what would happen should they accidently hit heads and knock each other out? -- R.W.
A: To begin with, each wrestler would be given two minutes injury time to recuperate. Now since it involves being knocked out, a physician must give his written permission for either boy to continue wrestling within the two minutes of injury time allotted. In essence, most doctors would not grant such permission due to the possibility of concussions, as well as potential legal ramifications. In this case, a "double default" would be declared and neither wrestler would be permitted to continue in the tournament. Interesting question, R.W.!

November 14, 1997
Q: Can you weigh-in more than one wrestler at a specific weight class before a dual meet competition?
-- Malcolm Ater
A: Yes--and as many wrestlers as you wish to weigh-in.

Q: After a wrestler weighs-in, how many weight classes can he move up?
-- Malcolm Ater
A: A wrestler can only move up one weight class. For example, in high school, if a wrestler weighs-in at the 103-pound class, he can only move up to the 112-pound class and no higher. (Note: It is required that all wrestlers must weigh-in, with exact weight documented, in order to compete in that match.)

Q: In dual meet competition, when must you declare which wrestler will compete at a specific weight class if more than one wrestler weighed-in for that weight class?
-- Malcolm Ater
A: Whoever reports to the score table immediately before that bout begins (say the 125-pound weight class) is the boy who wrestles. Yes, you can wait up to the moment that particular weight class is to be wrestled to declare who will compete there. (Note: In tournament competition, you are usually required to declare who will wrestle at a specific weight class during the coaches' "seeding" meeting prior to the start of the tournament. VERY GOOD QUESTIONS, MALCOLM ATER!

November 11, 1997

Q: I heard that there is only one weigh-in at the state tournament this season in West Virginia. Does anybody know if this is true?
from WV Mat Forum
A: There is only one weigh-in at the 1998 State Wrestling Tournament, and that will be on Thursday (the first day of the competition). However, this ruling is ONLY for the state tournament. All other tournaments lasting MORE than one day will have multiple weigh-ins, including some regional tournaments throughout the state.

November 3, 1997

Q: Can a boy wrestle and play basketball at the same time?
A: As far as I know, it is up to the school district. If the school district says okay, then the boy can do both. My son wrestled and played basketball at Triadelphia Junior High School in the mid '80s. Of course, this eligibility rule may have changed since then. Check with the WVSSAC.

November 2, 1997

Q: What can you do if you believe that the referee has cost you the match?
A: Your time would be much better spent on thinking about how you COST yourself the match, instead of blaming the official! Self-improvement, not excuses, produce winning wrestlers. (Note: In the future, please ask questions pertaining to rule interpretations. Thank you.)

Q: Wrestler A chooses the bottom position at the start of the second period. At the whistle, Wrestler A stands up to his feet. In the meantime, Wrestler B traps Wrestler A's left arm against his own side, lifts Wrestler A off the mat, and drives Wrestler A to the mat on his left shoulder, neck and head (the side in which Wrestler A's arm is pinned to his own side). Furthermore, Wrestler B turns his body in such a manner that no part of his body hits the mat before Wrestler A. Is this a slam?
Wrestling Coach
A: Sounds like a picture-perfect slam to me. However, had the referee been in a better position, he could have stopped the match when he saw Wrestler A's body off the mat with his left arm pinned, and signaled a "potentially dangerous" situation, avoiding any injury to Wrestler A. Good Question, Coach!

October 30, 1997

Q: Wrestler A is winning the match by a score of 3-2 after the second period. Wrestler B chooses the bottom position at the start of the third period. During the first 30 seconds of the third period, Wrestler B scores a reversal and a 2-point near fall, now winning in the match by a score of 6-3. At this point, the timekeeper stops the match and informs the referee that the second period was too short, lasting only a minute and a half. Does Wrestler B lose the points he scored in the third period or not?
Rod Auvil
Taylor County Middle School
A: Errors made by the timekeeper must be corrected prior to the start of any subsequent period. Thus, the score would stay as it is, with Wrestler B winning by the score of 6-3. They would continue the third period (at the time when they stopped it) in the referee's position with Wrestler B on the top. Super query, Rod!! You forced me to open the rulebook.

October 29, 1997

Q: Wrestler A "false starts" from the neutral position at the beginning of the third period. It is Wrestler A's first false start of the match. He has mouth braces which cut into Wrestler B's leg on the false start, and the wound is bleeding profusely. Now note, Wrestler B is leading by a score of 14-1, but has previously used up all his blood time in the match. Who wins the match?
A: When a wrestler commits an unsportsmanlike act, an illegal hold, or unnecessary roughness during a match, which causes injury, he loses the match if his opponent can not continue. False starts come under the category of technical violations. If you are guilty of a technical violation that injures your opponent to the extent that he can't continue, you would win the match no matter what the score is. It is strange, but that's the rule. Thus, Wrestler A would win the match because Wrestler B has all ready exhausted all his blood time and is bleeding again. It may not seem fair, but that's the interpretation as it stands now in the National Federation rulebook.

Q: If a wrestler gets cut by his opponent's mouth braces (possibly when crossfacing him), would he be forced to default the match if the bleeding is not controlled after five minutes?
Johnny Masters
A: If the bleeding could not be controlled during the maximum five-minute time period allowed, the wrestler would default the match. At this point in the rules, the National Federation does not require a wrestler with mouth braces to wear a mouthpiece. Such a regulation would eliminate the problem you brought to our attention. This is a well thought out question. Thanks for asking it--Johnny Masters.

October 28, 1997

Q: Can a wrestler earn near-fall points in a defensive pinning situation?
A: Only the offensive or top wrestler can earn near-fall points. However, the defensive or bottom wrestler can score a defensive fall. GOOD QUESTION by Nick Foster!

October 22, 1997

Q: How does a coach go about "certifying" that a given wrestler has made base weight prior to the 2 lb wt allowance? If the coach is challenged on that point after the 2 lbs is given, what documentation should he have on hand?
A: When the wrestler first makes base weight, the coach should have the official initial his name next to the boy's actual weight in the scorebook.

Q: Wrestler A forfeits a top-bracket match because of injury. If he recovers, may he continue in the bottom bracket?
A: If the boy is injured during the match and can't continue, it is a default and he may continue in the tournament.

Q: Wrestler A forfeits a top-bracket match because he exhausted his bleeding time. If the bleeding stops, may he continue in the bottom bracket?
A: Again, exhausting blood time in a match is a default and the wrestler may continue in the event.

Q: Wrestler A informs the tournament director that he is ill and wishes to forfeit his top bracket match, but will probably be feeling better by the time his consolation match comes up. May wrestler A forfeit his top bracket match and be dropped to the consolation bracket?
A: If the illness occurred during the tournament, the wrestler may continue in the event.

Q: Wrestler A informs the tournament director that he is scheduled to wrestle a team mate in the top bracket, (JV team is entered) and he chooses to forfeit and drop to the bottom bracket. May he forfeit a match for such a reason and be allowed to wrestle in the consolations?
A: NO! He must wrestle his teammate.

Q: Wrestler A fails to report to matside for his match within the allotted time and the referee declares a forfeit. A short time later, wrestler A appears to the tournament director with his coach explaining that he did not hear the announcement, and an appeal is made that the match be put back on deck. May the referee's declaration of forfeit be reversed?
A: In essence, it is the coach's and wrestler's responsibility to listen for his on-deck call. The tournament director can eliminate the wrestler from further competition in the tournament, and the referee was correct.

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Updated January 15, 1998