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Archive for November 2008

We lost one of the good guys

I’ve neglected writing lately because I’ve been busy traveling the Midwest in search of the best wrestling the U.S. college scene has to offer.

But as I prep for a fourth Thanksgiving away from my family, and put the finishing touches on Tuesday’s Wrestling 411 video, I got some bad news.

As I have alluded to many times in the past, I spent much of my formative years in the newsroom at the Daily Press, a Tribune-owned newspaper in Newport News, Va. I was hired as a clerk just days after my 17th birthday.

I worked with some great people at the DP. One such person was Warner Hessler.

Warner lost his short battle with cancer last night. It was less than a month after he was diagnosed.

Warner wasn’t an enigma to those who knew him. He was to many readers who would scour his columns and insight and readily talk about “Warner’s column” with co-workers. He covered the Redskins, which might be the predominant NFL fan base in Hampton Roads.

As a high school student and then on to college, I continued my employment at the DP. I snagged phones, edited pages, covered games, did layout and trolled the wires. But where Warner meant the most to me in my career was how to be a good interviewer, how to follow a game and how to make every seemingly meaningless high school football game the most important story to those who followed it.

Early on, I’d watch games from the press box … then when I was off on Friday, I watched my alma mater play at Bailey Field at York High School. Warner was covering the game … but wasn’t in the press box.

I spotted him on the sidelines, big glasses, hair flowing and a scarf wedged between his neck and his leather jacket. Warner liked getting the feel of the preps down low (weather permitting, of course). I strolled and talked with Warner that game and analyzed how he could do so much with just a notebook and without the help of spotters.

He changed how I covered things. I modified some styles on what suited me best. But it was Warner who was always there with a helpful note.

I didn’t see Warner too often during football season, but when he’d call in to make sure his story was filed, he always asked how I was doing, was I doing well in school, and I’d see him down the line.

Greg Martin was a local DJ from Poquoson who helped me get my start in announcing and broadcasting. He was the co-host of Mat Talk, the radio show which spawned my entry into the Internet with Mat Talk On-Line. Later on in the year, Warner and Greg hosted “Contact Sports,” a weekly talk show with topics ranging from the Hampton Roads Admirals (hockey), the Skins and Nascar.

My friend Terry Daniels was also a part of the show.

Warner meant a lot to a lot of people, even those who never met the man.

I proudly call him a mentor, because I would ask questions, and rather than bat me away and say “I’m busy,” he’d always answer. If he was on deadline, he’d get back to me, usually quickly.

He retired months before I ended my affiliation with the Daily Press. The paper went through a lot of changes. But I’m a better writer, journalist, and person for having known Warner.

I’ll always remember his signature column … he’d open up the hotline with:

“What’s wrong with the Redskins?”

Warner, you were a personal hero of mine. You will be missed.

OBIT from Dave Fairbank and David Teel from the Daily Press.

Written by Jason Bryant

November 26, 2008 at 8:14 pm

November 18 Wrestling 411 show now posted

Haven’t updated in a while … probably because I’ve been editing.

I’m heading to Iowa City and Columbia, Mo. this weekend. Should be fun.

Written by Jason Bryant

November 19, 2008 at 7:55 pm

E:60 Feature Power of One – ESPN Video

Wrestling is one of the many sports mentioned played by this young man. Great video and inspirational story. We should get this kid in touch with Arizona State’s Anthony Robles.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “E:60 Feature Power of One – ESPN Video“, posted with vodpod

Written by Jason Bryant

November 13, 2008 at 6:20 pm

Posted in Good Stuff

Tagged with

Late night update

1. I love Robot Chicken. So many random pop culture references, it’s great. Might even be more random than Family Guy with some of it’s 80’s trivia.

2. Saw “Role Models” and “Zack and Miri” tonight. Role Models is hilarious. The other, predictable and, while I won’t spoil it for you, was worth the five bucks for a middle of the week flick.

3. Wrestling411 has put out its first radio show. We launched a web video of it as well at Check it out!

Written by Jason Bryant

November 13, 2008 at 3:38 am

Posted in Blogging

Tagged with ,

Small Iowa community could use your thoughts and prayers

We often speak on how wrestling is a tight-knit community. We relate the lessons and camaraderie in our sport with those of our family dynamics and community relationships. It’s family.

When tragedy strikes, it takes a toll on everyone. For the tiny Westwood Community School District, it hits hard because of the very small populous it affects.

Right now, our family is hurting.

On Saturday morning, a van driven by a Westwood wrestling coach carrying five wrestlers was in a head-on collision on Iowa Highway 141. The driver of the car which the van collided was killed.

They were headed to a wrestling clinic.

When young people are involved, it wears on everyone. In small towns, like the five small Iowa towns which feed Westwood — Sloan, Salix, Hornick, Smithland and Holly Springs — the loss of anyone hits hard. Along with coach Dan Thompson, who was driving the fan, the driver of the other vehicle was a parent of a Westwood student.

This has affected everyone in an area 25 miles south of Sioux City. Grades K-12 are under one roof at Westwood. How small? A graduating class of 75 is considered “huge.”

Here’s the story from the Sioux City Journal.

Now here’s a call to those of us in the wrestling community. We’ve risen up to support Adam Frey in his incredible fight against cancer. We’ve supported our own in nearly every facet of life. It’s time to do it again. I can’t tell you what the right course of action is in a situation like this.

People are shaken. People are hurt. People are fighting for their lives. Any support, a card, flowers, letters encouraging those involved to fight on. Wrestlers don’t quit, as the saying goes. Let’s do something, anything, to give these young men any additional motivation to press on.

According to one Westwood alum — Amanda Dahl, who spent considerable time involved in the sport of wrestling at Iowa State — some of the reports might not explain the status of some of these wrestlers in detail. It’s bad. I could feel it through her voice, even a long way away in Auburn, Ala. They need our support, some way, some how.

Everyone in the crash was tied to Westwood. Everyone who wrestles past or present is now tied to Westwood.

Here’s a name some of you might know to help you identify with the school. Former Northern Iowa wrestler Jeff Harrison, went there. The face of the Wrestling Recap. The voice of the National Anthem at  National Duals a few years ago.

I’m from a small town. Your neighbor might have grown up in a small town. You might have grown up in a small town.  Tragedy doesn’t just affect someone else in places like this, it has an affect on everyone. I’m not from Iowa, had never heard of Sloan until 10 minutes ago, but these kids mean something, not to our sport, but to their families and friends. In a way, they too, are our family and friends just by their association with this sport.

Here’s a press release from Westwood and some contact information, simply as a starting point, to see what we can do to help. Here’s the link. I’ve also posted it below.

PRESS RELEASE                                                   Date  11/9/2008  1:00PM

Westwood Community School District
1000 Rebel Way
Sloan, Iowa 51055
712 428 3355
Kirk Ahrends Superintendent

As reported in the media the wrestlers from the Westwood School District were traveling to a clinic in Maple Valley when they were hit by a van. Five students and one coach all sustained injuries substantial enough to warrant transport to Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City. Those in the school suburban were:

Coach Dan Thompson
Trent Baker -16
Adam Greeno – 16
Blake Jorgensen – 15
Jordan Mitchell – 18
Sage Washburn – 16

The driver of the other vehicle that struck the school vehicle was Brad Haburn, the father of one of our Westwood students. The thoughts and prayers of our communities go out to his family.

The injuries to the students and coach are substantial and ongoing. Details of their conditions are only available through the Mercy Medical Center. However, we can say that all held their own or improved during the last 24 hours. Coach Dan Thompson, Jordan Mitchell, and Sage Washburn are able to have visitors. Immediate family may only visit Trent Baker, Adam Greeno, and Blake Jorgensen. The families and school wish to thank everyone for their prayers, visits, and outstanding support through this time.

Details and the cause of the accident are being investigated by the Woodbury County Sheriff’s department and Iowa State Patrol, however all reports to us indicate our school vehicle was driving in a safe and legal manner.

The Westwood District would like to thank the rescue and law enforcement agencies that responded quickly and helped get our people medical attention. We are also grateful to the Mercy Medical Center for providing wonderful support to our Westwood family during this tragic time. Finally, we are blessed to have a such strong communities that will help and support these students and staff through their recovery.

An update on the condition of students and staff will be given to the students on a daily basis. Our counselors will be available for any students that need to talk. Westwood secondary staff will have a staff meeting at 7:45 in the library.

Westwood will have school on Monday, November 10th as scheduled. However, ITBS/ITED testing is postponed for one week.

School Secretary Contact
Patti Witten:
Phone:  (712) 428-3303
Fax:  (712) 428-3246

Our thoughts and prayers are with those five communities, the friends and families of those involved in the accident.

Written by Jason Bryant

November 9, 2008 at 4:04 pm

Posted in Blogging

Tagged with

A moment of clarity: What does your college wrestling program mean to you?

I’ll preface this by saying I am very proud to walk into my office each day and see a degree from Old Dominion University placed on the wall. It’s no big secret to people within our sport that I attended school there for seven years (hold the Van Wilder jokes until the end). People bring it up frequently, and like any alum, I’m proud of my school.

I had a gutcheck a short time ago. A moment of clarity, if you will. I really don’t like to write about the ODU program much anymore, because, as most of you might guess, my opinions could be viewed as biased towards my particular alma mater. I’ve always made sure my coverage was down the line and fair, equitable and most of all, professional.

But in responding to a post on the CAAZone, a message board for fans of Colonial Athletic Association teams, I took a moment to think about what that program has meant to me and has done for me as an individual, a friend, a writer, and a broadcaster.

Honestly, I really want all our fans, fans of wrestling, to read this.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Jason Bryant

November 7, 2008 at 2:46 am

Anyone want to read a big load of crap?

I got a forwarded e-mail this morning from a friend of mine who keeps an eye on all things combat. What I read was of great interest, because Sweden’s Ara Abrahamian has been one of the top Greco-Roman wrestlers in the world for the past decade.

Swedens Ara Abrahamian was fuming at FILA officials for a call he felt cost him a chance at the Gold Medal match in Beijing.

Sweden's Ara Abrahamian was fuming at FILA officials for a call he felt cost him a chance at the Gold Medal match in Beijing.

You remember the Swedish wrestler taking off his medal and setting it in the middle of the mat during the medal ceremony right? Contrary to media reports, Abrahamaian, the wrestler who said “Screw this, I’m outta here,” didn’t “throw” his medal. He felt he was wronged, so he said to his fellow medalists, “Alright guys, congrats, but I’ve got other things to do, PEACE.”

So a few days afterwards, FILA strips Abrahamian of the bronze. Abrahamian already said he didn’t want it, so this was nothing more than a power play to prevent FILA from being upstaged on the sports, well, biggest stage. Abrahamian, however, incited the wrath of the FILA Board and now will have to pay for simply physically showing his protest.

Here’s the PDF of the FILA sanctions handed down yesterday on Sweden’s Ara Abrahamian and his coach, Leo Myllari.

PDF Link Click Here

The Associated Press also ran a story on this: Here’s the ESPN link. You can pick up on the headline sarcasm.

Let’s pull some things from the PDF for some commentary.

The Prosecutor and the Sporting Judge who analysed the case and the investigation procedure, have given their decision:
– No mistake can be attributed to the officiating body that made its decision according to the
current wrestling rules.

Of course there’s “no fault” from FILA officials. This organization treats many of its officials like gods. Letting the media and coaches and athletes fend for themselves for places to stand and warm-up at World Championships, while officials have posh padded seats matside. The only chairs you see on the floor in Baku were for the officials. I can’t back this up with anything, but is there another organization which is so tight with its officials? Was David Stern and the NBA tight with Tim Donaghy? Nope.

It’s not about whether there was a mistake or not, how about letting the wrestlers know what you called, knowing VERY WELL the last point scored wins. The denseness of those higher-ups in FILA are a big reason why American fans can’t understand, or better yet, don’t care to understand, the evolving world of international “wrestling.”

On the other hand,
– For serious lack of Olympic spirit, non-observance of sporting rules and the principle of Fair Play as well
as for scandalous behaviour contrary to the ethics of sport at the end of the match by the wrestler and the
– For calumny and insults towards FILA, its managing body, the National Federations, coaches and
– For moral fault and harm to the reputation of the sport of wrestling.

Scandalous behavior? What do you think all these biased officiating claims come from year after year? Scandalous. A protest? Hardly.

Insults towards FILA. Wah Wah Wah. What a bunch of big wigged babies. You cannot make fun of us, we will suspend you, even though we screw up royally all the time.

FILA President Raphael Martinetti

FILA President Raphael Martinetti

Moral Fault and Harm? If Abrahamian would have drop-kicked the referee (which I’m sure now, he might want to have done) I can see “Fault and Harm.” What Abrahamian did, whether you agree with him or not, is human nature. You feel you’ve been wronged, you speak up about it. Yes, after a while, you will “get over it.” Abrahamian showed he was “over it” by showing up FILA.

That’s why he’s being punished and yes — SUSPENDED — for TWO YEARS from international competition. He’s being fined 3,000 in Swiss Francs and can’t even compete within his own country. His coach got a two year ban and 10K in fines.

Oh, and the COUNTRY is banned from holding competition for two years. WTF!

TWO YEARS. That’s right. Can you imagine Allen Iverson or Jeremy Shockey getting a two-year ban for mouthing off to an official? Granted, I wouldn’t mind seeing a little less of “The Answer,” but the fact remains we’re argumentative as a people … but there’s one group you cannot SHOW UP if you’re wrestling — FILA.

By contrast, folks will say USA Wrestling is tight-lipped about things. Message board chatter can be pulled when it either attacks, gets out of hand, or who knows why, but if FILA were to have a message board, the only messages allowed would likely be “FILA is Great.” If you said “FILA is okay,” then expect to get banned — for two years.

My message to FILA is simply this — we know, we all know why you suspended Abrahamian, he made you look bad. Suck it up and take it like a man, suspending Abrahamian only shows how pius and arrogant FILA is as an organization.

The only thing FILA proves by making this type of decision is that they are almighty and shall never be questioned. What a bunch of crap.

Written by Jason Bryant

November 6, 2008 at 12:53 pm