West Virginia Wrestling


by Bill Welker and Bob Ferraro
December 30, 2017


Riding time was eliminated in high school wrestling years ago, but it is still a very significant part of collegiate wrestling. Without question, in all wrestling circles across the country, the riding-time topic has been hotly debated for nearly five decades.

Let me now explain the history of riding time at the scholastic and college levels. In the 1950s, a wrestler could score two match points if he had a two-minute spread over his rival in riding time. During the 1960s, a wrestler could only score one match point, outriding his opponent for one minute or more. And then in the early 1970s, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) ruled wrestlers could no longer score riding-time match points at the high school level.

In contrast, collegiate wrestling, to this very day, still allows one point for riding time during a match.

There are two schools of thought regarding riding time. At the high school level, authorities believe that riding time promotes stalling. Their rationale being that the offensive wrestler should always be striving for a fall.

On the other hand, college wrestling powers to be continue to stress that riding time, especially in close matches, is an art that should be rewarded.

I must honestly admit that I have had mixed feelings on the riding-time subject for years. But now it's time for me to get off the fence.

I sincerely believe riding time should be reinstated in high school wrestling, with one crucial condition being part of the scholastic rule. Also, I like what my lifelong friend, Bob Ferraro, has come up with regarding riding time. He feels that it should not be designated as riding time, but rather as "control time."

Regarding his train of thought, riding time connotes a sense of just holding the opponent down, and not working for a fall; whereas, control time implies that the wrestler on top must initially control his rival before applying any pinning combination.

Now consider my rationale for why control time should be a part of scholastic wrestling.

First and foremost, control time in high school will better prepare mat men for college wrestling. Furthermore, we have all witnessed matches between two highly-skilled and equally-matched wrestlers in which just holding an opponent down is a gigantic task, let alone even thinking about scoring near-fall points or a fall against his adversary. In such match-ups, I strongly contend the superior control-wrestler should be rewarded.

Now to appease the schoolboy naysayers, I would include one additional factor to my proposed control-time rule. Upon implementing control time in the interscholastic arena, should the offensive (or top) wrestler be penalized (not warned) for stalling, all his control time would be erased. Hence, the offensive wrestler would then continue on top with zero seconds of control time (which would then be restarted) at the resumption of the match. Note: Stalling on the bottom or neutral positions would have no effect on control time.

In conclusion, control time is certainly worth further discussion by those individuals who are responsible for changes in our scholastic wrestling rules.

What do you think?

Underrated Traditional Skills

Sometimes the most underrated moves are the most successful in the sport of wrestling. They are the "high success, low risk" skills known as the "fundamentals or basics" of the mat sport.

Without any doubt, contemporary wrestlers are being exposed to an overwhelming barrage of international Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling skills, including those fancy "tilts." Although such tilts score lots of match bonus points, one rarely sees a referee slap the mat when tilts are applied. On the other hand, falls are achieved by way of such fundamental maneuvers as half nelsons, arm bars, and cradles.

Take cradles for example. There's an old adage: "The best counter for a cradle is don't get in it." You need only ask former Penn State super-star, David Taylor, one of the greatest collegiate wrestlers of all time. He experienced the cradle firsthand in the finals of nationals his freshman year. It ended his hopes for a national championship that season.

In reference to the NCAA finals matches in any college division, the mat sport enthusiast rarely observes any fancy takedowns. Instead, they usually witness variations of single- and/or double-leg tackles.

One of the most decorated collegiate and international wrestlers is Jordan Burroughs. Very, very few opponents have ever been able to counter his devastating double-leg attack.

Many national championships have been won by means of double-leg takedowns, stand-ups, and cradles that have been perfected by such highly-competitive wrestlers. These most underrated, traditional moves are wrestling's oldest fundamentals.

"So, I'm sure you know why they are still around?"

It's quite simple: "They work!"

(Editor's Note: Bill Welker has over 60 years of experience as a former scholastic state champion and collegiate wrestler, successful coach, decorated official, and author/editor of The Wrestling Drill Book, which has sold over 30,000 copies. A former WVSSAC rules interpreter for 28 years, he also served on the NFHS Wrestling Rules Committee from 2012 to 2015. Most recently, he authored his national, award-winning memoirs: THE SPARROW'S SPIRIT. His e-mail is mattalkwv@hotmail.com.

Bob Ferraro also has six decades of mat knowledge under his belt. A former two-time NCAA Division I All-American at Indiana State University, Ferraro was head wrestling coach at Bucknell University for many years. He was also the founder and former CEO of the National High School Coaches Association which sponsors the annual National High School Senior Wrestling Championships. Ferraro is a distinguished member of numerous wrestling halls of fame. His e-mail is rferraro48@gmail.com.)

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