The West Virginia State High School Wrestling Tournament attracts over 5,000 fans from throughout the state, and has become a beloved tradition in the blue-collar town of Huntington, W.Va, where it has been held for the past 16 years.
For the townsfolk and the athletes and their families, the annual event has become a hub of community and personal aspiration. Listen to the observations of some of the participants in this year’s tournament, from wrestlers and coaches to the tournament’s many volunteers.
Enjoy the “Show.”
| Wrestlers at the West Virginia tournament grapple to gain the advantage. |
— James W. Prichard
Raymond Myers: Junior, Parkersburg High School, W. Va.
“It’s pretty tough being a student and staying focused on both wrestling and school work. ... Sometimes it’s a late night, studying after practice, but everyone’s gotta do it, I guess,” says wrestler Raymond Myers.
Scott Stosenbauer: Sophomore, Parkersburg High School, W. Va. “You have to make grades or you can’t wrestle. ... It’s harder than everyone thinks it is. ... If you don’t work hard you not gonna make it,” says 16-year-old Stosenbauer. The 105-pound wrestler had to fight back from a broken leg this year.
Justin Everhart: Sophomore, Hedgesville High School, W. Va. “We’re the best conditioned team in W. Va,” claims the 140-pound sophomore wrestler. His personal goal for this year, however, is just to go one better than his older brother and “place” at this year’s “show.”
Eliminated from the tournament and now just a spectator, Everhart reflects on his experience at the tournament.
| Hedgesville High School wrestling coach Bill Wittington plays some pool at T.J. Billiards, located in downtown Huntington. The team has been carrying on this tradition for the past few years. |
—James W. Prichard
Bill Whittington: Coach, Hedgesville High School, W. Va.
“I think this sport teaches more about responsibility, dedication, and discipline than any sport,” says Hedgesville coach Bill Whittington. A 33-year teaching veteran, Whittington stresses that, “It’s not all about winning. ... I would rather have a bunch of good kids, and have a good time at it.”
- Coach Whittington describes his student-wrestlers’ daily routine.
- “Making weight” is one of the most demanding requirements of wrestling. Coach Whittington offers insight.
Steve Everhart: Assistant Coach, Hedgesville High School, W. Va.
“I’ve gotten a new perspective on it being on this side of it,” Everhart says about his coaching role. “It’s like, 20 percent coaching and 80 percent personnel.”
- Coach Everhart talks grades. “A lot of people think wrestlers are dumb, I guess because they see the stereotypes on WWF stuff on T.V., but, all in all ... with the discipline that’s involved in wrestling, the kids keep their grades up.” Listen (0:55)
| Ethel Lou St. Clair checks the credentials of wrestlers and coaches at the rear entrance of the arena. |
—James W. Prichard
Ethel Lou St. Clair: Tournament Volunteer
“It’s like a great big family reunion,” says Ethel Lou St. Clair, a ticket collector at the arena, known by many as the “Ticket Nazi at the back door.” This year is her 24th as a tournament volunteer.
Angel Lennon: Student Athletic Trainer, Marshall University
“Seems like every time you turn around it’s a bloody nose here or there, somebody’s always running into somebody else’s hand,” she says.
Reverend Richard Johnson: Minister and Volunteer Coach, Huntington High School
“Wrestling has helped me even as a minster,” says Reverend Johnson, a 48-year old former state champion and high school all-American. Overcoming racism as a young wrestler was just one of the challenges he faced on the way to becoming a state champion.