West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker
National Wrestling Hall of Famer

"Youth Wrestling Tournaments and Those Marvelous Trophies"

"Oh, just look at those beautiful big trophies!" This thought consumes the minds of many youth coaches and parents. I say, "Oh, just look at those totally insignificant big trophies! They won't even be a memory when your youthful wrestler reaches high school."

Allow me to explain my point.

It sometimes seems as though youth wrestling season never ends, as the parents or parent-coaches take their child-wrestlers "trophy hunting" from tournament to tournament. Do you fit this mold? Here's a test. How would you answer the following question:

"How was your child's wrestling tournament last weekend?"

Answer A: "The competition was great. My boy lost, but he learned a lot. We're going to work on his mistakes and basics at practice."

Answer B: "Boy, the awards were super! You should see my boy's 4th place plaque! I can't wait for next week's tournament; their trophies are even better."
If your usual answer is similar to "B," then this "Mat Talk" column is directed at YOU. The following are signs that you have completely lost perspective:
1. You're still taking your 6-year old to wrestling tournaments in the spring and early summer, even when he's not that excited about going. (Let him play baseball!)

2. You brag that your 5-year old just won some so-called state tournament. (Oops! Dad forgot to mention there were only four kids in his son's weight class, and the finals match was terminated because his boy's opponent couldn't stop crying.)

3. You take pictures of all the gigantic trophies your second grader won over the last 9-month period. (No doubt your boy will be showing off these photos to his fellow mat men on the high school wrestling team. Forgive the sarcasm.)

4. Your fourth grader is winning many matches and tournaments by using a cowboy (or headlock) takedown. You know "head hunting" is a terrible takedown tactic for youth wrestlers to learn and execute. But you don't care; he's winning! (Warning: If he continues with this bad habit in high school, your boy will rarely be at the top of the place winner's podium . . . if ever.)

5. You waste 100s of dollars weekend upon weekend watching your boy/girl making the same mistakes, win or lose, again and again. (A suggestion: Give up a couple weekends of "trophy hunting," and spend that money sending him/her to a couple wrestling clinics. There are many great wrestling-technique camps out there, where you won't find the experts teaching such moves as the cowboy. But no, "trophy hunting" is more glamorous.)

6. You make your first grader lose a pound so he doesn't have to wrestle tough Johnny Doe. (Hmmm: Did you forget the old adage: "The better the competition, the better one becomes.")

7. You scream at veteran officials when your boy makes a mistake and gets himself pinned, and now won't place and receive that magnificent trophy. (Did you ever wonder what those same officials were thinking while you were making a fool of yourself? I'll tell you: "Oh, yeah, another father-coach who doesn't have a clue.")

8. Finally, You complain to others about the size and quality of the trophies at the youth tournament. (Some history: I remember when high school state champions in the 1950s received medals. Guess what? These senior citizens still have them. I wonder why?)
Although I am picking on irrational youth wrestling coaches/parents, the same could easily be said of many youth soccer, baseball, football, etc. coaches/parents as well. If this column upsets you, then I must have hit a nerve. However, should you be shaking your head in agreement, I salute you as a sensible youth coach/parent. With a wholesome understanding that youth wrestling is a training ground, you are wisely preparing your child for the possibility of becoming an all-state high school wrestler in Huntington, Columbus or Hershey. State championship trophies are much smaller than those youth tournament awards, but they won't be found in some web-infested attic or garage years later.

My state trophies are on display in my study.

Escapes and Reversals

The wrestler in control or on top is referred to as the offensive wrestler while the wrestler on bottom is the defensive wrestler. Keep in mind, only the defensive wrestler can score an escape or reversal.

The Escape: For the bottom man to score an escape, he must place himself in the neutral position, causing his opponent to lose control. The defensive wrestler may also be awarded an escape going out-of-bounds if his adversary is in-bounds at the completion of the move. The official will indicate one point for the wrestler who earns an escape.

The stand-up, forward or granby roll, sit-out turn-in or sit-out turn-out are examples of common escape maneuvers.

The Reversal: The defensive wrestler may procure a reversal by moving from the bottom position, gaining control of his opponent either on the mat or on their feet. Like the escape, a reversal can be obtained crossing the out-of-bounds line if one of the wrestlers is still in-bounds at the completion of the move. The official will indicate two points for a reversal.

The switch, side roll, and Peterson roll are examples of common reversal maneuvers.

Remember, one match point is given for an escape and two match points are awarded for a reversal.

Mini-Mat Quiz

Q: The bottom man maneuvers to his feet and executes a standing switch, spinning behind and controlling his opponent while both wrestlers were still on their feet. Would the bottom wrestler be credited with an escape or reversal.

A: The referee would award a two-point reversal because the bottom wrestler gained control of his opponent while they were both on their feet.
(Important Note: In the neutral position, if a wrestler employed a takedown move, maneuvering behind his adversary, he would have to bring his opponent to the mat for takedown points to be awarded. Why? It's the rule for takedowns. Go figure.)

OVAC Joe Thomas Wrestling Warrior

The Coach Joe Thomas OVAC Wrestling Warrior of the Week is Martins Ferry's Steve Woodford, who is competing at 285 pounds this season as a senior.

Woodford has an over-all record of 92-47, and is presently7-0 this season. Steve recently had 5 falls and a technical fall (6-0) at the prestigious Wheeling Park Duals.

This Purple Rider grappler was an OVAC Runner-Up last year and 8th his sophomore season. A two-time sectional champion, Woodford was also an Ohio State Qualifier as a junior. In fact, last year Steve had an impressive 43-8 record.

Congratulations are extended to Steve Woodford - 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 Martins Ferry's Mike Kaiser. A former Purple Rider wrestler and father of Ferry's 152-pounder Scott Kaiser, Mike Kaiser is very active as a Martins Ferry wrestling parent, who is an avid mat sport fan.

The Deaton-Regis Weekly Dual Meet Predictions

Larry Deaton and Jack Regis, two of the Valley's finest mat officials are competing with each other this season, picking the winners of selected weekly matches.

This week's dual meets featured matches are St. Clairsville at East Liverpool - 1:00 p.m. (Wednesday) and Oak Glen at Beaver Local - 6:00 p.m. (Thursday).

Deaton picks St. Clairsville over East Liverpool 34-27 and Oak Glen over Beaver Local 35-23. Regis calls East Liverpool the victor over St. Clairsville 36-25 and Beaver Local over Oak Glen 28-27.

Mat Message

"By perseverance the snail reached the ark."
-- Charles Haddon Spurgeon

(Dr. Bill Welker can be reached via e-mail at: mattalkwv@hotmail.com)
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