West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on Over-Indulgence and Paying the Price

If too much water you drink, in the match you will stink!
-- W. Andrew Welker

Boy, did I learn that lesson my senior year in high school. Listen carefully and don’t make the same mistake before wrestling.

In 1965, our District IV Championships were held in Williamsport, PA (Home of the Little League). We had just completed weigh-ins and I was very thirsty. Our coach took us to a fine restaurant where I was served a juicy steak. (Meat before matches was the dietary belief for athletes of the time.) The meal wasn’t the problem; it was my need for water.

I don’t know how many glasses of water I consumed, except to say my stomach was an ocean of gurgling liquid. But even as I warmed up for the first bout of the day, I couldn’t resist snatching occassional sips from the gymnasium fountain. There were a number of quick pins, and I was called to my match much sooner than anticipated.

My rival was a strong matman from Williamsport who I defeated quite easily earlier in the season. And though my belly was bloated, I felt confident of victory. I was in for a physically uncomfortable surprise.

Immediately following the blast of the ref’s initial whistle, I could sense that my bio-rhythms were off cord. I was sluggish and my adversary almost scored the takedown as I sprawled out of bounds.

This startled me because I was much better on my feet than him. Still, it took until almost the end of the first period for me to score an "iffy" takedown. (Thank you, ref!)

With the score 2-0 in my favor, my opponent won the coin toss at the start of the second stanza, and chose top. Here’s where my problem arises. My stomach was still swollen with an overload of water and he was a master of the “tightwaist.” Need I say more! I was in agony the entire period as he rode me the full two minutes.

Now back in the 1960s they had "riding time." A wrestler could earn a point for each minute (more than his opponent) he rode his adversary, up to 2 points. My match antagonist had ridden me for nearly 2 mintues. Thus, the score at the conclusion of the second period was 2-1, with his riding time.

I was required to assume the top position at the start of the third period. If I held him down for at least a minute, my rival’s riding-time point would be wiped off. If not and he reversed me, I would be losing 3-2.

My guts were killing me, but I was determined to keep him down. Thirty seconds into the third period, my opponent initiated a devastating switch and was just about to score a reversal when destiny came into play. He accidently cracked my nose with his elbow, I began to bleed profusely, and the official had to stop the bout. In fact, this occurred 3 more times in the next minute. (Thank you, Fate!) With less than twenty seconds, my adversary escape and we ended the period in the neutral position. I won the match by a score of 2-1.

Needless to say, I received an earful from both my coaches as I took off running for the closest restroom. The moral of the story: Always drink water or other nourishing liquids in moderation before a match. If not, you may experience what I did -- without Lady Luck on your side.

Quench your thirst, don’t drowned it!

He who takes a stand is often wrong, but he who fails to take a stand is always wrong.
-- Anonymous

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