"A New Era for Mat Talk"
by Dr. Bill Welker
I have had the extreme privilege to write about the sport I love - WRESTLING - since 1978 in the Wheeling News-Register and Martins Ferry Times-Leader. Nonetheless, it is time to prepare someone else to carry the "Mat Talk" baton: a co-author so to say. Someone who loves the sport as much as I do. That person is my son - Ricky Welker.
I will continue writing columns, but many of the articles will also be penned by Ricky. His experiences in the mat sport are as rich as mine. Ricky has wrestled from first grade through high school under ultra-successful Wheeling Park coach Edward "Buzz" Evans.
Ricky is also an excellent official who has overseen numerous area dual meets and tournaments from youth league to high school, including the highly regarded Wheeling Park Duals.
A U.S. Army National Guard recruiter and West Liberty University's ROTC instructor, Ricky Welker singlehandedly turned Triadelphia Middle School's wrestling program completely around. Two years ago there were only four kids out for the Raider wrestling team, and they were in the basement of the PAC-8 Conference.
In the fall of 2009, Ricky began doing what he does the best, recruiting. But this time it was recruiting young athletes to participate on Triadelphia's wrestling team. He molded those boys into "fundamentally-sound" grapplers.
Last year, the Raiders were 16-1 in dual meet competition, losing only to Steubenville Harding, a traditional powerhouse in middle school wrestling.
In reference to tournament action, Coach Ricky Welker's squad was Ohio County Dual Meet Champions, Follansbee Duals victors, and PAC-8 Champions, winning the event by over 100 points. They also placed 5th in the prestigious 34-team Ohio Valley Middle School Championships, producing three "gold medal" winners in Dylan Taylor, Eric Banks, and Geremy Paige.
Ricky is no stranger to the written word. Over the years, he has authored a number of guest columns for me. I couldn't hope for a better partner.
Believe me, Ricky Welker won't disappoint you. He, too, will make you laugh, cry, but most importantly, make you think about the various aspects of the sport we two so deeply love - WRESTLING.
THE NEUTRAL SIGNAL FOR WRESTLERS
The top wrestler can indicate the neutral signal, raising both of his arms, anytime wrestling action has stopped. This means that he is willing to give his opponent an escape point, rather than trying to ride him. At this point, wrestling will continue in the neutral position.
Q: Wrestler A asks to take the optional offensive starting position after he and his opponent go out of bounds. The official informs him that since he can now give his opponent an escape rather than trying to ride him, the optional offensive starting position is no longer an option. Is the official correct?
A: Absolutely, not. A wrestler can still use the optional offensive starting position because some wrestlers use it to start their unique riding strategies.
The Coach Joe Thomas OVAC Wrestler of the Week and the Deaton-Regis Picks of the Week by Larry Deaton - dean of Ohio Valley wrestling officials - and Jack Regis - another longtime OVAC mat arbiter - will return to this space as the mat season picks up steam. We will also include the "OVAC Wrestling Fan of the Week."
BOOK & DVD SPECIALS
The Wrestling Drill Book edited and authored by Bill Welker, with over 18,000 sold nationwide, and/or his DVD: Bill Welker's Pancake Takedown Series, would be great Christmas gifts for your favorite wrestler! To purchase an autographed copy of The Wrestling Drill Book or the DVD, the cost for each is $25.00. A "SPECIAL" price of $40.00 is offered for both. Just send a check or money order for $25.00 for one or $40.00 for both (shipping and handling is included) made payable to:
110 North Huron Street
Wheeling, West Virginia 26003
Phone: (304) 218-1950
Don't forget to send your return address and any personal note you want Bill Welker to write, with his autograph. He will accept requests until December 22, for The Wrestling Drill Book and/or DVD to arrive in your hands before Christmas!
Mat Notes: Mike Smith, a super supporter of OVAC Wrestling, has now manufactured corner rugs for coaches to sit on during tournament action. They really dress up the mat area, and can be seen at OVACs and the Wheeling Park Duals. The rugs anti-slip pad allows for little or no chair indentation. You can even sew patches of sponsors on them to create additional funds for your program. Moreover, they are sprayed with a substance that fights MRCA and other non-sanitary conditions. The corner rugs sell for $219.00 a set. For more information, go to www.wrestlingcornerrugs.com.
"Goodwill is earned by many acts; it can be lost by one." -- Duncan Stuart
(Dr. Bill Welker can be reached via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org)