West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker
National Wrestling Hall of Famer

"Scholastic Wrestling is NOT a Submission Sport"
by Dr. Bill Welker

There has been a growing concern by the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) and WVSSAC regarding "choke" holds to score takedowns. And officials around the Mountain State have been advised to pay careful attention to such practices.

Amateur wrestling is a wholesome competition, and by no means a brutal combat sport. Thus, any maneuvers involved in wrapping one's arm around an opponent's throat to hinder breathing or cut off one's blood circulation will be penalized immediately.

In fact, the NFHS Wrestling Rules Book specifically states (1) "holds putting pressure on the throat and/or carotid artery," or (2) "any hold with pressure exerted over the opponent's mouth, nose, throat or neck that restricts breathing or circulation" are deemed ILLEGAL in the mat sport.

Ray Marling, a veteran West Virginia state tournament official, asserted, "We, as referees, need to be more vigilant regarding such harmful moves, and when in doubt, stop the holds and signal 'potentially dangerous.'"

I wholeheartedly agree. Unfortunately, we are witnessing more and more of such tactical maneuvers. Furthermore, as the state rules interpreter, I have instructed all our mat officials to deal with the problem in the following manner.

If a referee observes a wrestler wrapping an arm around his adversary's throat, but it is not tight, the official is to call it potentially dangerous. Such a hold could easily turn illegal as the wrestlers twist and turn. Moreover, should the same mat man apply it a second time, the referee would again stop it potentially dangerous. At this point, the official would issue the following caveat: "Son, if you do it again, you will be penalized with 'unsportsmanlike conduct.'"

In closing, Ray Marling adequately summed it up: "Of course, wrestling is a physical sport. The participants utilize throws and holds that are designed to cause an opponent to experience physical discomfort. With that said, scholastic wrestling is not a 'submission sport.'"

The Sudden Death Overtime Procedure

Whether the competition is a dual meet, tournament or any other multiple-team event, if there is a tie at the end of an individual match, we go immediately to sudden death to settle the issue. Sudden death consists of a one-minute overtime period and, if necessary, three 30-second tiebreaker periods.

In the one-minute overtime period, the wrestlers start in the standing or neutral position. The wrestler who scores the first point(s) wins the match.

If no points are scored, the wrestlers go directly to two 30-second tiebreakers, which start in the referee's (or down) position. The referee flips the disk to see who has choice the first tiebreaker. Each of these two tiebreakers goes the entire 30 seconds, unless there is a fall.

If the score is tied after the first two tiebreakers, we proceed to the final "Ultimate Tiebreaker." At this point in the match, the wrestler who scored the first point(s) in the regulation match will be given the choice of up, down, or defer by the referee. If the match is scoreless, the referee will flip his disk to determine who gets the choice.

Should the top man ride out his opponent, he wins by the ride-out point (RO). If the bottom man scores an escape, reversal, or penalty point(s), he wins.

In my opinion, this is the best advancement in wrestling since I have been involved with the sport. Everyone understands sudden death, and it makes the sport even more exciting.

Min-Mat Quiz

Q: In the overtime period, Wrestler A scores a takedown but uses an illegal headlock to do so. Does Wrestler A win the match?
A: No. Wrestler B would win the match with the penalty point he received for Wrestler A's illegal headlock. You can not score a takedown with an illegal hold.

Mat Message
"When you teach your son, you teach your son's son."
- The Talmud

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

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