West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker
National Wrestling Hall of Famer

March 1, 2009

Jim Copney

We had a unique occurrence at the 62nd Annual West Virginia State Wrestling Championships this weekend - and it was a first! Jim Copney, one of our own outstanding Valley wrestling officials, became the first black referee ever selected to officiate the Mountain State wrestling tournament. An honor that is well-deserved. Allow me to explain why.

Jim Copney has been involved with wrestling ever since his junior high days at Wheeling Middle School, where he competed as a Wildcat mat man for Coach Pat Doyle. At Wheeling Park High School, Copney placed 4th at states as a junior in 1980, mentored by yours truly. At the conclusion of his senior year, Copney was crowned the 155-pound West Virginia state champion in 1981, while wrestling for Coach Eric Carder. The Wheeling Park mat team also won states that season.

Copney played football and ran track for the "Patriots" as well. In fact, he was a member of the 1980 Wheeling Park State Championship Track Team. At West Liberty State College, Jim Copney continued to wrestle. He also competed on the "Hilltopper" gridiron team.

After college, Jim Copney began his coaching career. Returning to his junior high alma mater, Wheeling Middle, Copney has assisted in coaching football for five years. But his love has always been wrestling. He has been the head wrestling coach at the school the past 12 years, winning the Ohio County Dual Meet Championship in 2007.

And the beat goes on.

Jim Copney, an active a member of the Ohio Valley Wrestling Officials Association, has been a registered wrestling official in West Virginia for 25 years. He also oversees collegiate matches, as a registered official for the EWOL and NCAA over the last 12 years.

Some of the more prestigious events Copney has refereed include:
* 17 Ron Mauck OVAC Wrestling Tournaments
* 12 West Virginia Regional Tournaments
* 12 Ohio Sectional Tournaments
* 5 Ohio District Tournaments
* 10 Ironman (Ohio) Tournaments
* 12 Medina (Ohio) Tournaments
* The Penn State University Open
* The Edinboro University Open
* The West Virginia University Open

Moreover, Jim Copney has refereed many, many collegiate dual meets in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia In 2008, Jim Copney was inducted into the Wheeling Park High School Athletic Hall of Fame for his scholastic successes in football, wrestling, and track.

Jim Copney presently resides in Wheeling with his lovely wife Brenda and son James.

As his former wrestling coach and officiating colleague, I take great pride in all of Jim Copney's accomplishments on and off the mats, but especially in his selection to officiate the 2009 West Virginia State Championships.

Congratulations, Mr. Copney, for a job well done!

Technical Violations
(Part Two)

There are seven technical violations in wrestling. Today we will discuss the last four technical violations. All but one technical violation (Incorrect Starting Position or False Starts) are penalized via the progressive penalty chart in the following manner:
" First Offense: One match point for the opponent
" Second Offense: One match point for the opponent
" Third Offense: Two Match points for the opponent
" Fourth Offense: Disqualification

Let's now take a look at the last four technical violations: Interlocking or Overlapping Hands, Figure Four Head Scissors in the Neutral Position, Reporting to the Mat Not Ready to Wrestle, and the Incorrect Starting Position or False Start.

Interlocking or Overlapping Hands
The top or offensive wrestler can only lock hands around his opponent's body or both legs when he is scoring near-fall points, or his opponent stands up with all his weight on his feet. Now should the defensive or bottom man score points while the top man commits this technical violation, he would receive all the points he scored plus a penalty point(s) for the violation.

Note the official can only stop the match if he feels the bottom man cannot score escape or reversal points due to the interlocking or overlapping hands technical violation.

Figure Four Head Scissors in the Neutral Position

The figure four head scissors is a technical violation in the neutral position when applied to stop his opponent from scoring a takedown. The referee-protocol for this infraction would be the same as the interlocking or overlapping hands technical violation.

Reporting to the Mat Not Ready to Wrestle

A wrestler must be properly attired and ready to wrestle when call to the mat by the official, or he will be penalized with a technical violation. He also loses one of his two time-outs. If he cannot rectify the problem regarding his attire within the one minute and thirty required or his opponent wins by default.

Incorrect Starting Position or False Start

It is a technical violation for a wrestler to assume an incorrect starting position in the neutral or referee's position. The rule also includes false starts in both positions. Note, unlike the other six technical violations, the first two incidents in this category are merely cautioned (the referee forms a "C" with his hand). The penalty is enforced on the third incident. Furthermore, this is the only technical violation that is not included in the progressive penalty. One penalty point is always awarded for this technical violation, no matter how often it occurs in a match.

Mini-Mat Quiz

Q: At the start of the match with no score, Wrestler A applies a figure four head scissors to stop Wrestler B from taking him down. Wrestler B does score the takedown. How many points will Wrestler B be awarded?
A: Wrestler B would earn three match points - two for the takedown and one for the technical violation.

Mat Message
"Education is a treasure and culture never dies."
-- Petronius

(Dr. Bill Welker can be reached via e-mail at: mattalkwv@hotmail.com)

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