West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

Bill Van Horne

Today I want to discuss one of the four male icons in my life.

My grandfather taught me about God's love. My father taught me about discipline and life. My high school coach taught me to wrestle. And finally, Bill Van Horne, the man who taught me about writing. Mr. Van Horne is the subject of this Sunday's column.

I was very disturbed a few weeks ago when I mentioned Bill Van Horne, and what a great sports writer he was. What upset me is that the person did not know about whom I was talking. I gave him a sports history-lesson, which I am going to share with you.

Before his passing, Bill Van Horne was the voice of Ohio Valley athletics for more than 50 years, both as sport editor for the Martins Ferry Times-Leader and the Wheeling News-Register. His columns, "Around the Horne" (Times-Leader) and "Van Horne on Sports" (News-Register), were fourth estate institutions that every athlete, coach, and fan looked forward to reading, especially on Sundays.

Van Horne's provocative columns made you smile, laugh, cry, beam with pride, but most importantly - think. Bill Van Horne was the moral voice who put the "sportsmanship" in sports.

Bill Van Horne was truly "A Man for All Sports Seasons." He was the patron of those sports that did not receive the publicity that football and basketball has always enjoyed in the Ohio Valley. He stepped it up a notch with the promotion of such "so-called" minor sports as tennis, golf, track, cross-country, distance running, and of course, wrestling.

Van Horne's devotion to the mat sport was nonpareil in the Valley. It began with his close association with a coaching legend, the late George "Coach" Kovalick. It was Bill, George and John "Corky" Vrotsos who conceived and initiated the first OVAC Wrestling Tournament in 1954. The event, after more than 50 years, has become the showcase of Ohio Valley wrestling.

During those earlier years, Bill Van Horne befriended a young black wrestler from Bridgeport, Ohio - Bobby Douglas. Highly influenced by Van Horne and Kovalick, Bobby Douglas became a world-class wrestler, coach and writer. But more significant is the fact that Coach Douglas has never forgotten them and how they molded his life.

Bill Van Horne has received an abundance of awards for his contribution to sports not only on the local scene, but also on the national and international sports fronts. Today I will inform you only of his mat sport honors.

In 1977, Bill Van Horne was the second recipient of the prestigious OVAC "Mr. Mat" award. The West Virginia State Wrestling Coaches Association has honored Bill Van Horne's promotion of the sport mat, naming him the "West Virginia Wrestling Sportswriter of the Year" three times. Van Horne also was recognized nationally for his efforts on behalf of wrestling. In 1996, Bill Van Horne posthumously received the "Honorary Master of Writing" award by Wrestling USA Magazine. He is the only wrestling sportswriter who has ever been honored with this elite accolade by this national mat sport periodical.

As for myself, I could never thank Bill Van Horne enough for what he has done for yours truly over the years. If it weren't for Bill Van Horne, there would not be a "Mat Talk."

In 1978, Bill Van Horne gave a young coach the opportunity to write a column about a sport he loves to this day. But it went further than that, Bill Van Horne was like another coach to me. Van Horne was my mentor and critic as a wrestling writer. He taught me to write from the heart as well as the mind. I can only hope that he would be pleased with how I have matured as a writer.

As one veteran and highly-respected sports editor put it, "When I was a young sportswriter, we use to say: 'Bill Van Horne and Cal Pokas were the sportswriters; the rest of us were just reporters.'" I feel the same way.

Yes, Bill Van Horne will always be one of the four "father-figures" in my life. And I, for one, will never forget him and his influence on my life!

Technical Violations
(Part One)

There are seven technical violations in wrestling. Today we will discuss the first three 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 first three technical violations: Leaving the Mat Proper, Intentionally Going Out-of-bounds, and Grasping of Clothing.

Leaving the Mat Proper
No wrestler may walk off the mat to spit in the waste can, for water, for legal medication, etc. without first receiving permission from the official.

Intentionally Going Out-of-bounds
Neither wrestler may intentionally go out-of-bounds when the match is in progress to avoid wrestling his opponent for any reason. There is one exception; If an opponent has scored near-fall points, the bottom man may scoot out-of-bounds on purpose.

Grasping of Clothing
A contestant may grab nothing but his opponent while wrestling. Should a wrestler grasp his adversary's uniform in an attempt to prevent him from scoring, any points his opponent obtains will be awarded plus the appropriate penalty point(s). Note, if the referee feels that the bottom man can not score due to the top man grabbing his uniform, the referee may stop the match and award the appropriate penalty point(s).

Be reminded, should a wrestler accidently get his fingers or hand caught in his opponent's singlet, no penalty will be indicated and the referee may have to take an official's time out rectify the situation.

Mini-Mat Quiz
Q: Wrestler puts Wrestler B on his back in a high bridge for three seconds. Wrestler B then uses his feet to push both wrestlers out-of-bounds. Is this a technical violation?
A: No. This is not a technical violation because Wrestler A would have earned two points for the near-fall situation.

OVAC Joe Thomas Wrestling Warrior
Coach Joe Thomas OVAC Wrestling Warrior of the Week is River's 215-pounder Mike Matusik. This season Matusik was champion at the Union Local and Beallsville Invitationals. He placed 8th in the OVAC Tournament and has a record of 25-4.

Last season, the Pilot's Mike Matusik won the Union Local Invitational and had a 17-2 record before a serious injury took him out of the line-up.

Congratulations are extended to Mike Matusik - this week's OVAC Wrestling Warrior.

The Deaton-Regis Weekly Dual Meet Predictions

Larry Deaton and Jack Regis, two of the Valley's finest mat officials are competing with each other this season, picking the winners of selected weekly matches.

This week's dual meets featured matches are Edison at Indian Creek (Wed.) and Wheeling Park at John Marshall (Sat.)

Deaton picks Edison over Indian Creek 38-27 and Wheeling Park over John Marshall 43-15.
Regis calls Indian Creek over Edison 35-31 and Wheeling Park over John Marshall 41-11.

Mat Message
"Success covers a multitude of blunders."
-- George Bernard Shaw

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Updated March 25, 1999