CHARLESTON, W.Va. The wrestling community enshrined eight new members into its fraternity Sunday afternoon at the West Virginia Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum induction ceremony. Embedded with stories and memories to share, the Ohio Valley boasted two inductees in Dr. Bill Welker and Ed West.
Both have served a longtime in the Ohio Valley wrestling family, Welker and West have played major roles in West Virginia wrestling and planting seeds of character into young wrestlers for a number of years.
Introduced by longtime West Virginia wrestling legend William Archer, the Ohio Valley duo were enthralled at the turnout as they were introduced to a crowd of well over 200 people at Embassy Suites.
BILL WELKER (left) and Ed West pose after Sunday’s induction to the West Virginia Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Charleston.
"They are all very dedicated to wrestling," Archer said about the induction class during the opening ceremony. "Most of these guys have put 25 years into wrestling in some manner."
The induction class of Jeff Courtney, Father George Nedeff, Gary Bender, Wayne Bennett, James Feltz, Fred Schrom Jr., Welker and West will get the privilege of leading the parade of champions at the 2009 West Virginia State Wrestling Championships in February.
"(Bill) has done some tremendous things for our state and nationally for wrestling," Archer commented about Welker. "Ed has also been a great asset to wrestling. He has always been first class, always knew the rules and ran his program the same first class."
West is the third from the Marshall County area to be inducted into the West Virginia Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum following Bill Hinegardner in 2004 and Ed Dugas in 2005.
"I am proud to be a part of such a distinguished group. These guys are the legends of wrestling," West commented.
At the same time as Welker and West were being inducted, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum was adding these two's names to the "Lifetime Service to Wrestling" award recipients in Stillwater, Oklahoma, the home of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum, which will be recognized with other great wrestling legends from around the Ohio Valley like Vince Monseau, Ron Mauck, George Kovalick and Jim Potts as well as around the country.
Welker has been promoting West Virginia wrestling since 1970 as a coach, official, speaker, clinician and author. A former Keystone State champions and state runner-up, Welker coached at Wheeling High, Wheeling Central and Wheeling Park. Producing one state champion Dan Doyle, 1973, the current director of the Ron Mauck OVAC Wrestling Tournament Welker is the West Virginia state rulers interpreter.
As a writer, Welker has produced The Wrestling Drill Book and has written over 600 columns on wrestling since 1975. His "Mat Talk" series in the Wheeling News-Register is the oldest wrestling column in the state. He also recently released a DVD on his signature move, The Pancake Takedown Series.
His success in all his wrestling endeavors has led him to multiple awards including West Virginia Official of the Year, Mr. Mat Award, WUSA National Official of the Year and OVAC Official of the Year to name a few.
"I give great thanks to my wife Peggy," Welker said during his acceptance speech. "She put up with a lot of the years and I am grateful to be here today in such great company."
West, a John Marshall product, is a former 1973 West Virginia state champion and a member of two state championship teams, 1972 and 1973. Going into the field of education at West Liberty State College, West quickly returned to the mats as a coach for Mounsdsville Junior High with coach Larry Chambers and produced four undefeated squads. In 1982, West moved up the ranks as an assistant coach for the Monarchs under Dugas and eventually succeeded his mentor in 2001.
As the Monarchs' mat mentor, West's 2002 team was the OVAC AAAA Dual Meet Champions and placed third at the Mountain State tournament. Under West, three of his teams placed in the top six at the state tourney. He also coached the school's first three-time state champion, Dustin Richey, two OVAC outstanding wrestlers, Ryan Muldrew and Derek George, and one Dutton Award winner and All-American, Muldrew.
"Wrestling has been a major part of my life," West said. "However, my tenure as a coach was only as good as the quality of my assistant coached."