West Virginia Wrestling

Making The Call ...

by Dr. Bill Welker

Part Three, February 21 - May 1998
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May 29, 1998
Q: I have a few questions regarding officiating mechanics. They are as follows:
1. Why don't some officials award takedown points right away when the bottom man is taken to his back?
2. How close should a referee be to the wrestlers?
3. What is the "loose" headgear ruling when that wrestler is on his back?
4. How do you interpret out-of-bounds?
Good questions, Near Fall!!
A: Below are the answers to your numbered questions:
1. When a wrestler takes down his opponent to his back, most officials do not want to miss back points. Thus, they will give the takedown after the situation has conclusion. Also, often the scorekeeper gets confused or misses the takedown signal because the official has to give them quick as he is dropping to the mat for back points. I prefer to wait until after the situation is over before awarding the takedown points.

2. An official should be close enough that he can stop potentially dangerous and illegal holds immediately. But not so close that he interferes with the action. This you learn through experience. If you get kicked in the face, you are probably too close.

3. Unless the headgear is cutting off breathing or is hindering wrestling, the referee should allow the match to continue until a fall occurs, the situation is over, the situation turns potentially dangerous, the top man does something illegal, or time runs out.

4. I always watch for the supporting points of both wrestlers when they are close to the out-of-bounds line. When feasible, I straddle the out-of-bounds line to get a better view of supporting points when indicating out-of-bounds.

March 11, 1998
Q: How far should a referee go in calling penalties in a State Championship finals match for the six and under age-class? A first-year wrestler was disqualified with only 12 seconds left in the match for locking hands. Not once did he lace the fingers or grip the hands together. This little guy was leading 12 to 5 at the time of the disqualification.
Sheila Valentine
A: First, allow me to explain the "Locked Hands" Technical Violation. A wrestler on top can only lock hands around the body in a pinning situation. The Locked Hands" Technical Violation includes lacing hands, grasping hands or overlaping hands and/or arms around the body. It is also locking hands on the top when they are locked around two legs. Note, one hand and/or arm beside the other hand and/or arm is NOT considered locked hands. As to your particular situation, that's certainly a tough way to lose. If I were the official in such a match, I would make it a point to explain the "dos and don'ts" to locking hands after penalizing him the first time. Maybe the official in your situation did the same; I don't know what led up to the disqualification. However, since this was a championship match in a state youth tournament, the official had no alternative but to call "locked hands" when he saw it. There are no warnings for locked hands in the rulebook. Great question, Sheila Valentine!

March 9, 1998
Q: Should a scorekeeper or timekeeper get involved in a verbal argument with a coach?
A: The scorekeeper or timekeeper should only communicate with the match official or assistant referee (if utilized). It would be very unprofessional for a scorekeeper or timekeeper to argue with a coach. He or she should bring a problem to the official's attention, who in turn, will do all the talking to the coach. Note, the situation you mentioned has been duly noted.

March 5, 1998
Situation: It is the third period and the match is tied. Earlier in the match Wrestler A was called for stalling. For over a minute and 30 seconds into the third period, Wrestler B has been actively trying to escape while Wrestler A seems content to ride out Wrestler B, taking the match into overtime. Then with approximately 10 seconds left in the match, Wrestler B stands up, quickly turns (facing Wrestler A) and picks Wrestler A up. Before Wrestler B can bring Wrestler A to the mat, the time runs out.

Question One: Should Wrestler B at least get an escape in this situation since he has Wrestler A in the air?
Question Two: Shouldn't Wrestler B at least be awarded a point (winning the match) for stalling since Wrestler A is up in the air not attempting to take his opponent to the mat?

Note, the answers I am about to give you are by National Federation interpretation over the years.
Answer to Question One: A wrestler must be in the rear standing position (behind his opponent) in order to earn a reversal. NO REVERSAL. However, Wrestler B has lost control and Wrestler A would be awarded one point for an escape.

Answer to Question Two: In the standing position, the top man shall be called for stalling if his hands are locked tightly around his opponent's body and he makes no attempt to break the bottom man to the mat. In the above situation, the top man is in the air, fighting to maintain control. NO STALLING SHOULD BE CALLED IN THIS POSITION.

Actually, Wrestler A, from the scenario you presented, should have been called for stalling early in the third period. Super, duper Question, Curious!

March 4, 1998
Q: What if there was an accidental head butt in a state championship match and both wrestlers had to default due to their injuries?
A: Great question, Jenny! You are not going to like the answer, and it doesn't matter what the score is at the time of the injuries. There would be no champion, only two runner-ups at that weight class for that year. Just keep in mind--NO wrestler can win a match if he defaults due to an injury caused by a legal hold or situation.

March 3, 1998
Q: The following are three questions I would like answered:
1) What is the difference between an escape and reversal? Sometimes it seems very subtle.
2) What do you look for when determining takedowns at the out-of-bounds area?
3) When trying to determine a fall, should an official put his hand(s) under the wrestler's shoulder(s)?
A: Here are the answers to Decked's questions:
1. There must be control for a reversal to take take. If the official believes that a wrestler has gained control either down on the mat or the rear-standing position, a reversal would be awarded.
2. For a takedown to take place at the edge of a mat, the supporting points of one wrestler must be in bounds. There is an exception, however. If a wrestler initiates a takedown in bounds, ends the takedown with only his feet in bounds on the mat, and at that precise moment has control, a takedown would be awarded.
3. When looking for a pin, the referee should never place his hands under the shoulders of the wrestler being pinned. His job is just to see it and call the pin when it occurs.
Good Questions, Decked!

March 2, 1998
Q: How do officials feel after officiating a tough match with close calls?
A: Making close calls are very difficult situations for officials. All the referees I know agonize over close calls. And it does not matter what level of competition they are involved with. In fact, I know of two excellent officials who unfortunately left the officiating ranks because they blamed themselves for a wrestler losing. Yes, officiating is a tough line of work!

Q: What are your thoughts on allowing ties in individual matches, say "co-champions" at 103 pounds for states?
A: I am personally against it. I do not think too many truly competitive athletes would relish the thought of sharing a championship with anyone else. Anyhow, that's how I feel about draws for individual matches. Two good questions, Decked!

Q: How is a false start that causes an injury handled in the rules?
L. Davis
A: Believe it or not, if you are injured by a false start, you are given two minutes of "injury time" to take care of that injury. Should you not be able to continue--YOU LOSE because a false start is a technical violation, and does not come under "recovery time" like illegal holds, unsportsmanlike conduct, or unnecessary roughness. Super question, Mr. Davis!

Q: What's the call if Wrestler A intentionally injures Wrestler B out of bounds?
-- L. Davis
A: The referee could either call unsportsmanlike conduct (one match point for Wrestler B), unnecessary roughness (one match point for Wrestler B), or even flagrant misconduct (disqualification of Wrestletr A from match and total event), depending on the severity of the offense. Thanks for the stimulating question, Mr. Davis!

Q: If Wrestler A picks up Wrestler B, and Wrestler B doesn't put his hands out when being driven to the mat, what's the call?
A: It depends how Wrestler B hits the mat. If he lands head first, it could be interpreted as a slam. On the other hand, if he lands on his side, it could be a takedown for Wrestler A. There is no definitive answer to this question; it depends on each individual situation and what the official sees. Interesting Question, Sarge!

February 25, 1998
Q: In reference to yesterday's double-injury default question, what if one wrestler is winning, say 12-3 at the time? Would this change the ruling?
A: It doesn't matter what the score is when there is a double-injury default. Anything can happen in a fully played-out match. Why just this year I was officiating a championship match at a holiday tournament. Wrestler A was winning by 14 points, one more point and the match would have been over with a technical fall. Then Wrestler B reversed Wresler A and pinned him. So you never know what can happen before the six minutes are up. Thus, the double-injury default ruling would not change no matter what the score is. Good point of emphasis, Luchador!

Q: When does a pin occur?
F. McQullian
A: Of course, a fall in high school is awarded when a wrestler holds his opponent's shoulders to the mat for 2 seconds. As far as the referee is concerned, the fall is recorded in his mind first. (We think quicker than we physically act.) In reference to end-of-the-period pins, if the referee hears the buzzer or is tapped by the towel person at the precise end of the period, he will know in his mind when the fall occurred. However, when the crowd noise level is at fever-pitch, and there is some confusion as to when time ran out. It is the timekeeper who lets the official know the time he slapped the mat. (That's all the timekeeper can go by. He doesn't know what an official is thinking.) Then the official makes the final decision as to whether or not a fall occurred on time. It's often very, very tough being an official. Interesting question, Mr. McQuillan.

Q: There seems to be more aggressive takedown action in freestyle matches. Do you think it would be a good idea (to make the action more exciting) to award three match points for offensive takedowns and two match points for defensive takedowns in high school?
A: This really is a philosophical question in nature, so here are my thoughts on the topic. As a competitor, I had two very successful offensive takedowns--a double-leg trip and a single leg takedown, with a fake-to-one-side setup. On the other hand, I also had a highly successful defensive takedown as a counter for double leg takedowns--a standing pancake. Then there are wrestlers who "bleed" (or subtlely manuever) their opponents into making takedown mistakes, gaining a defensive takedown. To me, a takedown is a takedown, and all takedowns should be worth two points. Keep in mind, this is just my opinion, and could be argued forever. One final point. What I like about freestyle wrestling is the emphasis on takedowns. I truly enjoy watching a "takedown artist" doing his thing on the mats. Thanks for making me think, Seville.

February 24, 1998
Q: What is the ruling for locked hands when the bottom wrestler is standing up?
Near Fall
A: When the bottom man is standing up, the top wrestler can not lock hands until the bottom wrestler's entire weight is on his feet. Note, if the bottom man's hands are still touching the mat, you can not lock hands. Also note, when the top man brings his opponent back down to the mat, he does have reaction time to release his locked hands. Excellent question, Near Fall

Q: Is there too much emphasis on the takedown?
Back Points
A: Now this is only my personal opinion. First of all, I love to watch a great takedown artist in action. I think it is more enjoyable to witness than a fall. Second, one often can not score a pin until he takes his opponent down. The fall may be the objective of wrestling, but the takedown is the means to that end. Just my opinion, Back Points.

I believe a takedown should always be worth two points. In 1965, PA had a rule where the first takedown was two points, and after that, only one point during the match. It was a complete failure, and the next year it was back to two points per takedown, never to be changed again.

February 23, 1998
Q: I have two questions:
1) Are knee pads special equipment and, if so, must they be unadorned?
2) Must an official be registered in West Virginia in order to officiate in high school, junior high, or middle school wrestling matches?
Wrestling Ref
A: The answers to both questions are as follows:
1) Knee pads are special equipment and, as such, must be unadorned.
2) A referee must be a registered official in West Virginia in order to officiate at the high school, junior high, or middle school level. Two very good questions, Wrestling Ref!

Q: What is the rule for crying out in pain multiple times during a match?
A: First of all, it must be understood that a wrestler only has three injury time-outs during a match; he is done on the fourth one. If he cries out during certain (or imminent) near-fall situations, his opponent gets the appropriate extra match points. A referee could award a match point in near-fall situations for unsportsmanlike conduct if he was 100-percent the wrestler was faking. But as an experienced official, I would suggest staying away from that one--unless you can prove you are a mind reader or the boy told you he was faking. Good question, Ted.

Q: If two wrestlers in a West Virginia regional championship finals match bumped heads accidently and neither could continue, what happens, especially with states the next weekend?
A: Since a wrestler can't be eliminated from a tournament due to an injury default, the following would occur in the above situation:
1. Both wrestlers would receive runner-up points for the match because no one won.
2. A coin would be flipped to determine who would be placed in the champion's slot (for their region) at states, with the other placed in the runner-up position for their regional. Though it is the luck of the flip, it's the only fair way to solve the problem. Super question, Luchador

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Updated January 15, 1998