West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on Andy Cross's National Record

I am sure many of my readers also love baseball. I know I do. And those of you who are West Virginia baseball enthusiasts are probably very familiar with the name Andy Cross. He is one of the premier umpires of the Valley diamonds. But did you know he holds a national record in wrestling?

The 1997 wrestling season marked the 25th anniversary of Andy Cross's very unique accomplishment, which was documented in the January 15, 1997 issue of WRESTLING USA Magazine. On February 21, 1972, Mr. Cross, wrestling for Morgantown High School, pinned his fellow heavyweight opponent in 4 seconds! And this feat has been recorded by the above periodical as a national record for more than twenty years. Thus, I thought it would be intriguing to learn what Andy Cross has to say about this unusual athletic achievement. Below are some questions that Mr. Cross was gracious enough to answer during our interview.

MAT THOUGHTS: Andy, when did you start wrestling?
ANDY CROSS: Actually, I didn't start wrestling until I was a junior at Morgantown High School. But at the end of my senior year I had a record of 16-2.
MAT THOUGHTS: That's not bad for only two years of wrestling experience. Now, Andy, what was it like, having a four second pin?
ANDY CROSS: Well, there's not to much to remember. I figure either my opponent or I must have been awful hungry that night.
MAT THOUGHTS: Andy, what was your most memorable experience in wrestling?
ANDY CROSS: I guess I'd have say pinning my rival from Fairmont Senior in our annual dual meet. I must admit, however, that he avenged that loss by pinning me in the regional tournament. He learned how to counter my side roll. Instead of rolling him to his back, I rolled half way to mine. And from there, I had a couple of seconds to count lights.
MAT THOUGHTS: What influence did your coach, Bob DeAntonis, have on you?
ANDY CROSS: I had the upmost respect for Coach DeAntonis. He was a true gentleman's coach who made us strive for perfection. He made us drill, drill, drill until we did each move properly. And just as important, Coach DeAntonis taught us self-reliance. In essence, he taught us to love the sport of wrestling.
MAT THOUGHTS: Did wrestling help you the rest of your life, Andy?
ANDY CROSS: It sure did, especially in the area of officiating. We had outstanding wrestling officials in our area, who were consistent and stressed fairness. One fine referee that comes to my mind is Jim Feltz (the state rules interpreter for many years). I had a lot of admiration for Mr. Feltz because he was always concerned about wrestler-safety, and he emphasized the ideals of good sportsmanship.
MAT THOUGHTS: Andy, what do you believe you, personally, gained from wrestling?
ANDY CROSS: I would have say it was the ability to accept challenges in life, learning that there are certain times in one's life when he must face adversity alone.
MAT THOUGHTS: Did you develop any lasting friendships through the sport of wrestling?
ANDY CROSS: Oh yes, especially with coaches and officials. I still have many fond memories of Coach DeAntonis and, believe it or not, Coach Bob DeLorenzo, the coach of our arch rivals, Fairmont Senior. Coach DeLorenzo always had a great deal of respect for his opponents and always praised them, even though his team may have crushed them. In the officiating ranks, I have developed lasting relationships with Larry Deaton, Ray Marling, and Bill Welker--all fine wrestling officials dedicated to the sport.
MAT THOUGHTS: In your opinion, how has wrestling changed over the years?
ANDY CROSS: Today, wrestling has a much faster pace. When I wrestled, we had riding time, where you earned points for hold your opponent down for a certain amount of time. Now the emphasis in wrestling is to score a fall. Furthermore, I believe today's wrestlers are much farther advanced in their technical knowledge of the sport than we were back in the '70s.
MAT THOUGHTS: Andy, what advice would you give today's wrestlers?
ANDY CROSS: I'd say work hard at practice, enjoy the experience of competing in one of the finest sports developed by man, and most importantly--HAVE FUN!
MAT THOUGHTS: Do you have any final words to say regarding your wrestling experiences?
ANDY CROSS: As a matter of fact, I do. This really has nothing to do with wrestling, but I really did enjoy it. Since I had already taken driver's education classes and we always drove cars to matches, I got the privilege of driving one of the cars to every away match. Boy, was that a great feeling!

Thanks, Andy, for a most enjoyable interview. It was informative as well as inspirational, with a touch of your ever-present delightful humor.

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Updated February 3, 1998