March 1, 2009
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.