West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... On Sacrifice: Is it Good or Bad? -- Your Call

"Sacrifice -- The Essence of Excellence or the Folly of Fanaticism"

The Saga of Two Wrestlers
The story I am about to tell you is true, except for the two wrestlers' names. In the end, you will have to judge for yourselves.

A junior in high school, Tommy was an exceptional wrestler. His feats on the mat were a joy to observe. Tommy's forte was "pinning" and he scored points like Babe Ruth hit homeruns. At the end of the season, Tommy was primed for a state title at the 112 pound weight class. Like many wrestlers, Tommy had to count calories. In fact, making weight was a much greater challenge for Tommy than many of his opponents were.

With the district championships starting on Friday, Tommy "weighed out" after Thursday night's practice two pounds under weight. His coach was very pleased. Unfortunately, the temptation to eat was too great for Tommy that night. Tommy was four pounds overweight for the district tournament and was eliminated from the event. Tommy's coach came from the old school of wrestling, where not making weight for a match was an unpardonable sin. Even though Tommy was undefeated during the regular season (17-0), the coach did not award him a varsity letter that year. Tommy was devastated and never wrestled again.

A sophomore in high school, Andy was methodical as a wrestler, outscoring his opponents by 4 or 5 points on a regular basis. He wasn't graceful on the mats, but Andy knew how to win. He had the tenacious dedication of a Lou Gehrig. Many mat enthusiasts who knew him believed that Andy had the potential to be a state champion. Wrestling at 112 and 119 during the season, Andy finished the year with a 15-1-1 record, and planned to compete at 112 pounds in the district tourney. He, too, liked to eat and came into practice the Monday before the competition well overweight.

Since Andy only had four days of practice before Friday night's districts, his coach (formerly Tommy's mentor) bluntly suggested that Andy move up to 119. Andy responded, "No, coach, I'll make weight. I can win states at 112. I promise I'll be down by Friday." "You better be!" responded the irritated coach. On Friday night, Andy qualified for the 112-pound weight class at the district championships. As a matter of fact, he was two pounds under weight.

To this day, Tommy despises the coach and Andy reveres him. Was the coach too harsh on Tommy? Was Andy's sacrifice too extreme for a young high school athlete?

Like Paul Harvey, I know the rest of the story, but I'll let you decide for yourselves.

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Updated April 5, 1998