West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker, National Wrestling Hall of Famer

Film website AT THIS LINK

I have viewed numerous scholastic and collegiate wrestling documentaries over the years. Takedown and Falls is by far the best. A film produced by Todd Hickey and Kirk Ledger, it provides a poignant and vivid example of a Pennsylvania high school wrestling team's defeats and triumphs during the course of one season.

The film takes you through the strenuous practices, the extra training that dedicated wrestlers do outside the wrestling room, and the hard fought matches, which are often filled with bittersweet moments both on the individual and team levels.

The practice drills performed in the film are authentic and demonstrate the intensity of what it takes to be competitive wrestlers…and that doesn't guarantee that they will even come close to being state champions.

Then there's the concern of watching your weight as a wrestler. Takedowns and Falls illustrates how wrestlers sacrifice to keep their weight under control during the entire season. No other athlete could ever imagine what wrestlers go through, both physically and mentally.

The film also emphasizes how wrestling is an emotional roller-coaster ride for the entire family. I can't think of any other athletic contest which affects the parents more than the mat sport. Your boy is out there by himself; when he wins you feel his exhilaration, and when he loses you experience the same excruciating pain.

Actually, there is a brief segment in Takedowns and Falls that literally hit home for me. One of the school's wrestlers loses in the Pennsylvania state finals, and in the stands, his younger sibling is crying. I can still remember the tears streaming down my face when my older brother lost his first high school match many years ago.

Takedowns and Falls truly exhibits a wrestler's complete devotion to a sport in attempting to be the best. There are two goals for wrestlers stressed in the documentary: win a state championship and earn a college scholarship. Unlike the so-called "major" sports, wrestlers go to college to graduate.

Takedowns and Falls is a wrestling documentary that graphically addresses the "grunts and groans" associated with producing championship wrestlers and teams.

If you have ever been totally engrossed in a sport, Takedowns and Falls will deeply move you. It's a "must-see" athletic film!

Review by Bill Welker, EdD
Pennsylvania State Champion
National Wrestling Hall of Fame (WV Chapter)
Pennsylvania Wrestling Hall of Fame
2008 Master of Wrestling
Wrestling USA Magazine

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