West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

...on a Great Journey

There have been some rumors spreading about my future as a wrestling official. Let me set the record straight.

This is my 25th year as mat whistleblower. And yes, it will be my last year as an active high school referee. In other words, I will no longer have an officiating schedule during the season.

However, I do plan to keep my WV and Ohio officiating status active. Moreover, I will still hold the position of state rules interpreter and clinician for the WVSSAC.

As of next year, I will be helping out where officials are limited -- the junior high and middle school levels. I will only help out at a high school match if an official under contract becomes suddenly ill and is unable to referee.

The last 25 years have been great ones for me, filled with many endearing and thrilling moments on the mats, as well as developing many, many friendships.

I have had the opportunity of working with the best wrestling officials in the Valley (and the country for that matter) over the years, including Frank Mosier, Bob Schmitt, Bob Bruney, Paul Lemery, John Snively, Larry Rine, Dave and Mike Kovalick, Tony Velka, The Crosier Brothers (Shawn, Jim, & Rick), Lou and Paul Coffland, Jim Copney, Ron Taylor, Tom Lackman, John Howard Gompers, Rick Spencer, Larry Deaton, Steve Kish, Ray Marling, Merle Tournay, Jack Regis, Don Ferris, Bobby Bender, Shane Kildow, Johnny Jefferis, Joe McCool, Ken McWilliams, Barry Gashel, Chris Diserio, etc.

In reference to coaches, I officiated for a list of mat mentors that reads like a "Who's Who" in Ohio Valley and Mountain State wrestling -- George Kovalick, Bill Hinegardner, Vince Monseau, Buzz Evans, Terry Brinker, Rod Oldham, Joe Handlan, Larry Shaw, Ed Dugas, Russ Spence, Jim Potts, John Yocina, Jeff Stolz, Jules Adams, Bill Wells, Bill Archer, Dave LaMotte, John Craig, Dennis Bowman, Dan Doyle, Ed West, Nolan Van Gilder, Merle Tournay, Ted Zervos, Ross Roskovich, Chick LaMotte, Babe Sidon, John Vrotsos, Jeff and Rick Oberdick, Bob Pickens, Dick Edge, Eric Carder, Paul Billaird, Ken Robison, Larry Chambers, Roger Shaw, Art Jones, Bill Donohew, Joe Thomas, Adrian Younger, Emil Nardone, Joe Erlewine, Ray Pernell, Randy and Chris Pryor, Jamie Lesko, Larry Richie, Mark Holenka, Chuck Baker, Dan Doyle, Rich Gregor, Bill Ellsworth, John Haswell, Kevin Felton, Larry Chambers, Busty Bartolovich, etc.

The following are the prestigious and long-enduring tournaments I have been privileged and honored to wear the striped shirt at:

Wendy's Brooke Classic (25 years) - Wheeling Park Duals (11 years)
Ohio District & Regional Championships - River Duals - Cameron Tri-State Invite
St. Clairsville, Steubenville, and St. John's Invitationals - Barnesville Tournament
12 OVAC Championships and 4 West Virginia State Tournaments (prior to serving as Rules Interpreter)
11 West Virginia Region I and II AA Tourneys
14 West Virginia Region I AAA Championships 1981-1994 (more than anyone else to date)
It has been a great ride, but all good things must come to an end. What I will really miss are all the friends I hav/e made over the years -- the great coaches, officials, wrestlers, parents, and fans the likes of Doug Pettit, Bill Foster, Dick Wolf, Bill Valko, Mike Hince, Gordie Longshaw, Pete Cuffaro, and Ray McCool. And finally, my Ohio Valley "ethical" mentor as a coach, official and teacher, who taught me "common sense and character" in all these areas -- OVAC Wrestling's Ron Mauck. It has been a wonderful experience.

As Dirty Harry once put it: "A man 's got to know his limitations." Age has a way of creeping up on one "sneaky quick." I have loved officiating ever since I refereed "wrestle-offs" during my high school days. But lately, I have decided that I am ready to step down.

Don't get me wrong. I still believe I am on top of my game, which is how I want to be remembered by those who love wrestling as much as I do.

So next year you'll see me in the stands, but don't expect me to critique a fellow referee. I have too much respect for the profession and the men who accept the responsibility and challenge of officiating wrestling, and all sports.

Thanks for the memories.

"I am not young enough to know everything."
-- Sir James M. Barrie

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