West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

Confessions of a Wrestling Official
Part II

As some of you might know, I am the West Virginia State Rules Interpreter and Clinician, as well as the supervisor of officials during the West Virginia Wrestling Championships. I have held this position since 1989.

I have also been the rules interpreter of the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference's "all-classes" wrestling tournament for 12 years.

In the above capacities, I have had to make 100s of decisions. The majority of them have been correct, while a very few have caused me to later question my personal judgement.

Such is the stuff that those in authority must accept, and live with. I have chosen this responsibility, and I have never regretted it.

That being said, permit me to share with my readers a recent competition in which I lost concentration, and failed in my duties as an official.

The indiscretion took place at this year's Wheeling Park Duals. It is a tournament that has evolved over the last 11 years into a first-class, nationally-recognized competition due to the able direction of Coach Steve Shaffer.

But back to my officiating "blackout."

In all wrestling tournaments, fatigue often envelopes the wrestling referee during those lengthy afternoon sessions. This was the case for yours truly while officiating my fourth dual meet of the day. Here's what happened.

As I was overseeing the 160 pound weight class, both wrestlers were in the neutral position. Wrestler A attempted a spin behind. At that point, I became fixated on Wrestler B's throat where Wrestler A placed his lower right arm as he spun around his opponent, scoring a takedown.

But I didn't award the points because I was still watching Wrestler B's throat. For five seconds, I was in a "fatigue trance" which we in the officiating ranks call "brain dead." Before I could award the points, Wrestler B spun out of the situation, as both wrestlers careened out of bounds., and the takedown no longer existed. It was too late to award any points. I messed up.

Immediately, Wrestler A's apt coach approached the score table for a conference with me. And I knew exactly what he was going to ask Why didn't you award my boy a takedown?

During those few seconds it took me to walk across the mat to the score table, many lame alibis went through my mind. What would I say to this coach?

As I approached him, I simply said, "Before you say anything, I blew the call, coach. I lost concentration for a few moments and missed the call. It's totally may fault, coach." Not expecting my admission of guilt, the coach's only response was "Okay, ref, but don't let it happen again."

With that, he walked back to his chair and the match resumed. Nothing more was mentioned regarding the matter the rest of the dual meet.

As the old adage states, "The truth shall set you free."

So, there you have it "Confessions of a Wrestling Official"

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