West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker
National Wrestling Hall of Famer

Wrestling with Injuries: Revisited

"When Tom King faced (boxed) the Gouger...he knew that the Gouger's jaw was only four months healed after having been broken in a Newcastle bout. And he had aimed for that jaw and broken it again in the ninth round. He had done it, not because he hated the Gouger, but because that was the surest way to put the Gouger out and win the big end of the purse. Nor had the Gouger borne him any ill will for it. It was the game, and both knew the game and played it."
from "A Piece of Steak" by Jack London
I referred to this quote over 10 years ago to emphasize that wrestlers who compete with injuries can expect their opponents to attack their injured areas and I still contend they have every right to do so.

Whenever I stepped on the mat with an injury, I knew full well that my wrestling adversaries were going to attack my weakness, using legal moves. It's a fact of life in any sport; just ask any athlete. After publishing the column, I received a written rebuttal regarding this belief from a reader who said he was a retired U.S. Army Sergeant. He stated that it was very poor sportsmanship to attack an opponent's injured area, even if done legally. I found this so ironic, and suspected that the disgruntled reader was not being truthful about having a military background.

Think about it. Would any military strategist assert: "Let's see. Our enemy's left flank is very weak, lacking any air support whatsoever. It wouldn't be fair to strike them there. Let's attack their strong right flank, instead."

I don't think so.

Recently, Chance Taylor, head wrestling coach at Brooke High School, asked if I would conduct a clinic at one of his holiday practices. When it comes to helping OVAC coaches, I can never say no. Furthermore, Chance was a former student of mine, who I might add was also an OVAC and two-time West Virginia state champ. His Brooke wrestlers are very fortunate to have him at the helm.

After the clinic, Chance told me a story regarding what the late, great Wheeling Central football coach Jim Thomas did for him as an elementary wrestler. Note, at the time, both of Coach Thomas's sons - Jimmy and Dax - were also outstanding youth wrestlers. During a tournament, Chance stubbed two fingers of his right hand and needed them taped together. He asked Coach Thomas to do so since his next match was for the championship. As Coach Thomas was taping his fingers, Chance gave him a weird look, but realized Coach Thomas was totally engrossed in watching an exciting match in progress. As Chance was wrestling his match, his opponent constantly attacked his taped fingers. It was to no avail. Chance easily defeated his adversary for the gold. Afterward, Chance went to Coach Thomas and kiddingly told him, "Coach, you taped the wrong hand." Coach Thomas quietly responded, "I know, Chance. I did it on purpose. And it worked, didn't it?" Young Chance Taylor just smiled, shook his head, and walked away.

Oh yes, whenever you wrestle with an injury, definitely expect your opponent to attack it. It's a part of sports that every athlete must fully understand - and sports prepare us for the realities of life.

The Near Fall

Only the top or offensive wrestler can score near-fall points. He can do so by forcing his opponent (the defensive wrestler) into any of the following positions:
1) The defensive wrestler is in a high bridge situation.
2) The defensive wrestler is leaning back on his elbows with his shoulders facing the mat.
3) The defensive wrestler is exposing both his shoulders to the mat within four inches or less contact with the mat surface.
4) The defensive wrestler has one shoulder in contact with the mat and the other shoulder at a 45-degree position from the mat or less.

The offensive wrestler can score two match points by holding the defensive wrestler in any of the previously discussed positions for two seconds.

If the offensive wrestler is able to control the defensive wrestler in any of the previous positions for five continuous seconds, he would be awarded three match points.

The official usually indicates the presence of such near-fall situations by making an angular sweep of his arm, with each sweep indicating one second of back exposure. The referee will not signal any match points until the near-fall situation is terminated.

Also note, a near-fall can still be awarded if both shoulders of the defensive wrestler remain partially in-bounds or just one shoulder is completely in-bounds.

The half-nelson, arm-bar series, cradle, and three-quarter nelson are common pinning situations that can score near-fall points as well as the pin or fall, concluding the match - which is next week's rules discussion.

Mini-Mat Quiz

Q: Utilizing a half nelson, Wrestler A forces Wrestler B to a high bridge on his head for four seconds before Wrestler B was able to turn over on his stomach. Then Wrestler A quickly caught Wrestler B in a cradle and placed him placed him in another near-fall situation for over five seconds before the end of the period buzzer sounded. How many near-fall points would Wrestler A receive?
A: Five match points. He would receive two match points for the half nelson, which was held for less than five seconds. Then Wrestler A earned three match points for holding the cradle near-fall for five seconds before the period ran out.

OVAC Joe Thomas Wrestling Warrior

Coach Joe Thomas OVAC Wrestling Warrior of the Week is John Marshall's Justin Goode, a Monarch sophomore mat man who has turned in some impressive stats. Thus far this season, Justin has already recorded victories over a two-time OVAC champion and a West Virginia State Runner-up at 119 pounds. Goode also won the prestigious Brooke Classic and was named the "Outstanding Wrestler" of the event. As a freshman wrestling at 112 pounds, Justin Goode earned 5th place laurels at the West Virginia State Championships. Congratulations are extended to John Marshall's Justin Goode - this week's OVAC Joe Thomas Wrestling Warrior.

OVAC Mark Gerrity Wrestling Fan of the Week

The OVAC Mark Gerrity Wrestling Fan of the Week is John Marshall's Ksam Sedosky. Mr. Sedosky has been a longtime fan of the Monarch mat program and has traveled all over the state to support his favorite team. Monarch mat mentor Ted Zervos commented, "Sam Sedosky always tells you like it is, but always fellows up with: 'But I'm not the coach.'"

The Deaton-Regis Weekly Dual Meet Predictions

There are no dual meet predictions this week because of the gigantic Ron Mauck OVAC Wrestling Tournament to be held at the Wesbanco Arena on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Don't miss the excitement!

Mat Message

"Go the extra mile. It's never crowded."
-- Executive Speechwriter Newsletter

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