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Mat Chat by Larry Richie

By Staff | Feb 4, 2009

Looking out the window today (Sunday) I see sunshine, people in tee shirts, and rivulets of water from melting snow, forming streams down driveways and sidewalks. Winter is over! (NOT) No, not by a long shot.

If I’ve learned nothing else over the many seasons that I’ve walked the earth it’s that nature is a seductress. She will cast off her robes of white for a day or two, tease us with warm sunny rays then, faster than you can imagine, lower the temperature and drop another accumulation of snow in our back yard.

Like a woman, she knows how to be alluring and then give the cold shoulder. However, that being said, I must confess that I really enjoy the winter season. I like the snow, I enjoy surprises (usually), and I swim in uncertainty. Well, I guess it takes all kinds, right?


Our wrestlers were not very active this past week. The prolonged bout of snow and freezing rain caused the cancellation of most of the activities at Tyler Consolidated, our away match at Shenandoah included.

We were only able to have one practice for the team last week as well. At least we didn’t loose anything over the weekend in as much as it was an open date on the varsity calendar.

Two of the freshmen or first-year wrestlers did make the trip to Morgantown for a JV tournament on Saturday. John Brosky wrestled in a mix of 103 and 112 pounders, and came away with second place at 103. Nathan Bolin entered the foray at 130 pounds. However he sustained an injury during his first match and was unable to compete for the rest of the day.

I really enjoy the atmosphere at that J.V. tournament. We are there to get the young kids who are fairly new to the sport matches with wrestlers who are close to themselves in their level of experience. There is no team trophy to contend for, and very little pressure on the coaches or the wrestlers.

In years past my younger son, Isaiah, a student at WVU would come over and keep me company during the tournament. He was however just getting back from a trip to Las Vegas where he attended the Miss America Pageant. He went to the reception afterward.

He called me later to tell me what it was like hanging around and talking to Miss Ohio, Miss Texas, Miss Hawaii, Miss Utah, etc, etc. I had only one question for himWHY DIDN’T HE TAKE ME ALONG!?! (Probably because he didn’t want the competition for their attention!) Anyhow, I missed him at the tournament. But I think the two boys that went enjoyed the time and learned something by being there.

While I was at Morgantown Coach McKeever had our Middle School squad at the two day long Mason-Dixon conference tournament. This has grown over the years into a multi-team major tournament with some outstanding wrestling.

Our boys did not make a huge splash at the tournament, finishing well down on the list of schools, but Coach McKeever did report that several of the individual matches were well wrestled, and that our fellows were within reach of winning a couple of them.

This marks the end of the middle school wrestling season for us. It is only fitting that we say a couple words about this group of boys who came through the campaign with us.

With only one boy on the team with any previous experience we knew from the beginning that we were in for a challenging year. With such an untested group we focus on two basic goals improvement and dedication and in these areas we were not totally disappointed. The boys who stayed with us showed a great deal of dedication in as much as they were faithful in attending practices and worked hard to grasp some of the many skills of the sport.

As far as improvement, when measured by their ability at the beginning of the season as compared to now, these boys have come a good distance.

If they stick with it and don’t get discouraged they may prove to be high quality performers on the varsity wrestling squad in years to come.

Four of the boys were eighth graders, and will be at the high school level next year. Dustin Tawney has showed his devotion to the sport by sticking with it through two years. Tom Keller is very strong and wiry for his age and weight and will do well when he gains some of the basic wrestling instincts. Riley Housel is going to be a heavyweight from all appearances. He is the only TCMS wrestler to place at the Mason-Dixon Tournament. Joe Henthorn is very promising. He brings some natural athletic ability to the sport and has shown a desire to learn.

At the seventh grade level Tyler Blizzard has a little experience, which he picked up before moving to Tyler. He could be a team leader next year. Kyle Eastham is an intelligent boy who will do well when he adopts a more aggressive wrestling style. And Josh Pelikan was with us until he suffered a shoulder injury that sidelined him. Josh showed a good amount of willingness to learn and get better at the sport. We are looking for these seventh grade athletes to form the nucleus of next year’s squad. Coach McKeever and myself would like to thank each and every one of these boys along with their parents for all their hard work and effort the past few months.

Last week I promised I would supplement the story of Elijah winning the drawing at the OVAC Tournament last week with the tale of how his brother Isaiah won it eleven years ago. It was the same scenario. I bought up a number of unsold tickets and put the boys names on them. Weeks later, a letter came in the mail for Isaiah Richie. He opened it, and proceeded to tell his mother that he had received a check, and asked if he could keep it.

She, thinking it was some kind of advertisement, said “sure,” and asked how much it was for. “$250.00” was his response.

“That’s nice,” she said, and went back to whatever she was doing. Over hearing this conversation I asked Isaiah to see the check. Lo and behold, it was from the OVAC, and it WAS for real, $250.00.

“You said I could have it” Isaiah reminded us. Well, after some serious negotiation, I found that Isaiah would be willing to be a “contributing member of the household” as long as it was duly recognized. To make a long story short, there is now in our pantry the “Isaiah M. Richie Memorial Washing Machine” and everyone lived happily ever after!

Before closing, I had best give the answer to last weeks “mat trivia” quiz. What employee of Tyler County Schools once wrestled for Ron Mauck? That was a hard one! One thing that may have helped you was to know that Mr. Mauck coached at Brooke High School, and our own Bobby Jones from the middle school side was a graduate of that school.

Yes indeed, Mr. Jones was a high school wrestler. I have tried from time to time to get him involved in our program, but he has drifted into the ranks of the roundball coaches where he has, and is proving to be an asset to that program. To those of you that guessed that it was me, sorry, not so.

Mr. Mauck and myself are too close in age for that. My high school coach was a gentleman named George Gold, and I credit him for instilling in me many of the values and characteristics I have today. (I’m not sure that that could be taken as a compliment, but it is certainly meant as such.)

Well, weather permitting, we are scheduled to have two events this week. On Wednesday, we will play host to Ritchie County and Bishop Donahue. Both of these teams, like ours, have less than a full line-up, and so it could be a short night.

On Saturday we will be heading for Williamstown for the LKC Tournament, which promises to be a challenging and exciting time. Wish us well.

And so, until next time, remember, the change you can count on is not the change in your pocket (if you should be so lucky) but rather the change in your attitude. Work hard to cultivate a good attitude and to be one of the biggest fans of life. And meanwhile, “wrestle for fun.”