West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker
National Wrestling Hall of Famer


"There's no place like home."

What does the above quote have to do with wrestling? Well, it reminds me of Rennie Rodarmel, Toby Goguts, Harry Weinhofer, and Martin Winnick. Who are they? These guys were my practice partners in high school, who made my wrestling workout sessions a living hell!

So what's my point? You don't have to spend thousands of dollars, traveling across the country throughout the year to experience great competition. Often it is right in your own backyard. Allow me to prove my point.

I remember occasions when wrestlers, local and afar, won so-called "national championships" at well-publicized, big money-making tournaments at such locations as Las Vegas, Reno, Fargo, Virginia Beach, etc. Now here's the irony. None of them ever won a "state wrestling title" in their home state. Hmmm.

So, what's wrong with this picture?

It's quite simple. Often the best wrestlers around the country do not attend these over-rated competitions for one reason or another. For example, they may spend their summers attending outstanding clinics to fine tune their already highly successful moves, they may be participating in baseball (another sport in which they excel), or they, quite frankly, can't afford to go to these events because of their family's economic circumstances.

Believe me; there's enough competition in our own upper Ohio Valley "tri-state" area to keep any outstanding wrestler on his toes. For those of you who are not aware of this - Ohio and Pennsylvania are arguably considered the "top two" scholastic mat sport states in the country. Perennially, the Keystone State and Buckeye State have the most NCAA Division I All-Americans.

I know there is one local coach who would definitely agree with me - Oak Glen's ultra-successful mat mentor Larry Shaw. He knows that the best competition is only an hour's ride (east or west), be it wrestling Claymont, Ohio (2009 state runner-ups) or scrimmaging with Pennsylvania's Shadyside Academy (2009 state champs). Win or lose, Coach Shaw has seen to it that his squads have always been exposed to the best competition year-in and year-out.

Moreover, Coach Shaw annually sends his teams to outstanding summer clinics in Ohio and Pennsylvania, such as the Clarion Wrestling Camp, etc., which are only a couple hours drive. Maybe that's why his mat squads have won more consecutive state championships than any other school in any sport in West Virginia (13 state titles in a row).

Yes, you often find the best competition close at hand. For me, it began in the practice room. And quite honestly, what title would you rather have as a scholastic wrestler - a championship at some pseudo-national event far, far away, or being crowned a "state champion" in Huntington or Columbus?

To me, that's an easy question to answer.

Illegal Holds

The best definition I have come across for an illegal holds is "any maneuver used that could cause bodily harm, intentionally or not."

Examples of illegal moves include: full nelson, back bows, headlocks (without an arm encircled), forceful trips, pulling a thumb or less than four fingers, restricting breathing and/or circulation, and any holds used for punishment alone.

The penalties for illegal holds are assessed in the following order:

It is important to note that a wrestler who applies a legal hold shall not be penalized if his opponent turns it into an illegal hold.

Also, whenever possible, illegal moves should be prevented by an official rather than penalized. Unfortunately, the official often is not afforded the opportunity to intercede because the illegal maneuver happens so fast.

Mini-Mat Quiz

Q: Wrestler A applies an illegal full nelson to Wrestler B just before the final buzzer sounds to end the match. Wrestler A held a 12-5 lead at the time but this was his fourth illegal hold of the match. What will the referee do?

A: The official will disqualify Wrestler A, and Wrestler B would be declared the winner.

OVAC Joe Thomas Wrestling Warrior

Coach Joe Thomas OVAC Wrestling Warrior of the Week is Weirton Madonna's Max Nogay, who wrestles at 171 pounds. This "Madonna" wrestler's present record is 25-1, which includes being the first wrestler to win the OVAC title in the school's 50-year history. Nogay was also voted the Outstanding Wrestler at the 30-team Winner's Choice Tournament held at Fairmont, West Virginia.

As a freshman, Max placed 4th at states, weighing-in at 135 pounds. His sophomore year, he was a state runner-up at 145, and last year he was crowned the 160-pound West Virginia AA State Champion. Nogay now holds an over-all record of 102-21, surpassing the enviable century mark. In fact, Wrestling USA Magazine ranked Max Nogay as the 27th best 171-pound wrestler throughout the nation in its February 1st issue.

Congratulations are extended to Weirton Madonna's Max Nogay - 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 Weirton Madonna's RON CASTELLUCCI. A former Madonna wrestler himself, Don is not only at meets to support his nephew, 285-pounder Christian McGaughey, but he offers his services whenever they are needed. For example, Ron helps set up the mats for home meet, and with the severe snow storms we have had lately, he snow plows around the wrestling room so the wrestlers will have no excuse for missing wrestling practice.

Mat Message

"Political Correctness is the antithesis of Truth."
- Bill Welker

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