Welker to be inducted into wrestling hall
WHEELING — Rick Welker was a wrestler. He has been an official. He has been a journalist and broadcaster. He has been, and still is, a coach. He’s done it all for more than four decades.
For his dedication to the sport he so dearly loves, Welker will be enshrined into the West Virginia Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. He will receive the “Lifetime Service to Wrestling” award during a banquet on Sunday, Oct. 27 at the Embassy Suites in Charleston. Also being inducted are Northern Panhandle residents Ted Zervos (Moundsville), Gene Monteleone (Wheeling) and Will “Scheny” Schenerlein (Parkersburg); and Jerry W. “Woody” Burns. A social will begin at 1 p.m., with the dinner at 1:45.
“It’s a great honor to be selected for induction with this year’s group of inductees. I have known all of them for quite some time and all are very qualified for this honor as well,” Welker acknowledged. “It’s pretty cool to be going in with Coach Monteleone who was coaching when I was at Wheeling Park, as well as following my father in to the hall of fame.
“I have gotten to know Coach Zervos over the years as the head coach at John Marshall. He has been a mainstay at JM for as long as I can remember,” Welker added. “As an official, you always knew when Coach Zervos was in the corner and you knew that he was well versed in the rules and that he was always going to fight for his wrestlers. The JM wrestling program is set for success for years to come and Coach Zervos is a huge part of that. The wrestling room that he spearheaded is second to none in the area, and is just an example of that future success.
“Coach Schenny did a heck of a job while at Parkersburg High School. I think the foundation that he set during his time there is still being felt to this day.
“Woody Burns dedicated years of his life to calling wrestling matches in the state of W.Va. and was proven time and again as one of the best in the state.”
An OVAC freshman tournament champion, Welker was a varsity member of the 1990 Ron Mauck OVAC championship team at Wheeling Park High School.
He coached wrestling at Triadelphia Middle School for four years, where his teams posted a 72-4 dual meet record and won four PAC-8 championships. He was named as the 2010 OVAC Middle Coach of the Year. Welker is also an accomplished scholastic wrestling official who has arbitrated numerous OVAC and West Virginia Regional Tournament Championships.
He is a past president of the Wheeling Youth League and the Wheeling Wrestling Club. He is also co-founder of the W.Va. Youth Wrestling League. Currently, Welker is a committee member of the West Virginia State Freestyle Wrestling Association.
“West Virginia has come a long way in terms of competing more consistently on a national level but there is still plenty of work to do. I feel that the biggest leaps for W.Va. is in freestyle and youth wrestling. On the freestyle side, we are beginning to get a little more organized as a state so that when we send our high school wrestlers to Fargo they are prepared to compete,” he stressed.
“Most importantly, we need to nourish and support our youth wrestlers. This is where the culture change needs to occur. Our youth wrestlers have been competing in events with kids from all over the country for the past few years in what I believe are record numbers. Not only are they competing against some of the best youth wrestlers in the country, but they are beating them. This past summer W.Va. sent 12 wrestlers ages 14 and below to the USA Wrestling Kids Nationals Freestyle and Greco Roman Tournament. W.Va., as a state, finished with a .500 record and had three All Americans.”
For his many articles on area wrestling and hosting the Rick Welker Radio Show on WKKX, he was named the 2013 Snyder-Miller Wrestling Sportswriter of the Year by the West Virginia Wrestling Coaches Association. That same year he and his father, Dr. Bill Welker (2008), were recognized as the National Wrestling Sportswriters of the Year by Wrestling USA Magazine. In fact, they are the first father-and-son duo to be inducted into West Virginia Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
The younger Welker is a retired USMC Senior Drill Instructor and Recruiter who now works for USA Compression Company.
He and his wife, Shelly, reside in Wheeling and have six children: Chase, Camden, Cheyenne, Canon, Taylah, and Isaac (aka Mike), and grandson Greyson.