West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker
National Wrestling Hall of Famer

Eighth Place

March 8, 2009

Over the last few years, a number of wrestling coaches around the Mountain state have been lobbying for the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission to include awards for 7th and 8th place finishers at the state wrestling tournament.

I personally think this idea is totally ludicrous and would make a mockery of what we perceive as a prestigious wrestling honor - being named an "All-State" performer. Allow me to explain my two reasons.

First, I believe we have too many all-state wrestlers with the present system, but I can live with it. Why do I feel this way?

Well, wrestling during my competitive years was much more like real life. There was no room for any hesitation or mistakes. If you lost at any level of the state elimination process, you were done - you could go home. "Opportunity only knocks once."

Furthermore, there was only room on the podium for two - the champion and the runner-up - and nobody else. Now we have six places.

Be very thankful - you other four placers - that you didn't wrestle in my day. Yes, back then, losing was like being second in a old Wild West "gun fight." In other words, no second chances during tournament competition.

And second, did you know that there are approximately 80 schools that have wrestling in West Virginia? They are basically broken in half - about 40 teams in AAA and 40 teams in A/AA. So if you had eight state placers in each class, it would mean 20% of all the wrestlers in each division earn all-state laurels.

Heck, why don't we just give every wrestler in every weight class an all-state medal. This way we could eliminate going to Huntington for three days.

Forgive the sarcasm.

Okay, now that I have upset everybody, I think I have a competitive "format-solution" where I would be willing to accept 8 state placers. Consider the following.

Eliminate the two classes and have all the schools wrestle in one division. This can be done by creating 8 regions (approximately 10 teams per region), with the top 4 wrestlers in each weight class qualifying for states.

Moreover, we could have more than one regional and state team champion, utilizing the points each team scored in their respective regional tournament, and at states. You can even have three state team champions - A, AA, and AAA.

In conclusion, the beauty of this set-up is that only one individual state champion will be crowned in each weight class. May the best "gunfighter" win the ultimate, coveted prize - "A True State Championship Title."

What do you think?

Unsportsmanlike Conduct
(Coaches and Spectators)


No coach can be disrespectful during any wrestling competition. If so the referee would deduct one point from the violator's team score.

On the second offense, the perpetrator would be removed from the premises for the duration of the dual meet or the rest of that day of a tournament. Also, two more points would be deducted from his team's score.

Take note. When a coach's initial action is judged to be flagrant in nature, he would be expelled immediately - with the loss of two team points - for the duration of the dual meet or tournament. Spectators

No fan may react in an unsportsmanlike manner toward the referee or opposing coach or his team.

This unbecoming behavior will result in removal from the gym, field house or arena on the official's request for the remainder of the competition.

Important Point: Neither team would be penalized any points from the misbehavior of an overzealous spectator. Also, it is the responsibility of the home school's administrator's to remove the offender from the premises.

Mini-Mat Quiz

Q: A referee has been constantly harassed by a heckler in the front row of the home school's bleachers almost from the start of the dual meet. Finally, unable to put up with this unsportsmanlike behavior any longer, the referee stopped the match and asked the home school's athletic director to escort the spectator from the gymnasium. The visiting coach reminded the official that he must deduct team points from the home team for such poor behavior. Was the visiting coach right or wrong?
A: The coach was wrong. The removal of a spectator from the premises due to unsportsmanlike conduct has no effect on the score of either team.

Mat Message
"It may sound strange, but many champions are made champions by setbacks."
- Bob Richards, Olympian Champion
(Dr. Bill Welker can be reached via e-mail at: mattalkwv@hotmail.com)

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