West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on A Profile of Courage

It is always a great to write about a wrestling "Profile of Courage." It involved a young matman who strived to be as good as the brother he loved dearly. Let me share this mat sport tale with you.

In 1977, Tim Hanlin earned all-state status as a senior at the 105-pound weight class in the West Virginia State Championships held at Parkersburg, West Virginia. He competed for the newly-consolidated Wheeling Park High School's initial wrestling squad under legendary Coach Eric Carder.

Now note, Tim Hanlin was the brother of two-time state champion, Duke Hanlin (1974 & 1975). Duke was one of the most fundamentally sound wrestlers I have ever witnessed on the mats in the Mountain State. Tim worshiped Duke, as most younger brothers do. But unlike many brothers who fear failing in their sibling's footsteps, Tim wanted to duplicate his brother's feats on the mats. What moxie!

Now learn the rest of the story.

Tim Hanlin did not start to wrestle until his sophomore year in school. Because of his love for the sport and unparalleled work ethic, Tim quickly internalized the important aspects of wrestling. From there, he won a position on the varsity team, and immediately became a championship grappler on the mats.

As a senior, Tim was having an outstanding season. Unfortunately, he broke his nose before the state tournament. This did not check his desire to achieve. Wearing a face mask to protect his nose, he competed in the regional tournament. What's more amazing, due to a positive athletic attitude, Tim Hanlin made sure he qualified for the state tournament.

Nobody expected him to place high in the state meet, including yours truly, who was one of his coaches. Boy, did he make fools of us doubters! In the state tournament, Tim Hanlin incredulously pinned his way to the finals of the state championships. I was overwhelmed with awe; and believe me folks, I have seen many superb performances in my almost 50 years as a wrestling enthusiast.

Then Tim faced a future collegiate all-american opponent in the final match that would determine the AAA state champion at the 105-pound weight class. Tim Hanlin told his coaches no more mask for the important bout. At the conclusion of the regular match, the score ended in a tie. Wow!

During those times, the wrestlers had to wrestle another match consisting of three one-minute periods. Guess what? The overtime bout ended in a draw.

So who makes the ultimate decision? Back then it was the official, and he awarded the match to Tim Hanlin's adversary. What a tough pill to shallow! Tim took it with grace, even though he was deeply disappointed.

Unless you have competed with your whole heart and soul in an athletic contest, you could not begin to imagine how Tim felt.

I can tell you this. There are three people who were initially very, very impressed with Tim Hanlin's performance. His mother, father and worthy opponent, Parkersburg's illustrious matman, Troy Owens. In fact, Troy has often expressed his praise of Tim Hanlin's tenacity as a great competitor throughout the years.

After his final scholastic match, there was also one other person who hugged Tim Hanlin with complete pride. It was his brother, Duke Hanlin. There is nothing more meaningful to a younger brother than his older brother's respect.

Tim Hanlin, that night of long ago, was more of a champion than many great matmen. He had the guts to face his personal challenge head-on without hesitation.

How many other "younger brothers" can say the same?

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