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AUGUST 24, 2015





Coaches, Referees and Leaders,

            I hope you got some much needed rest after Fargo.  What a Grind !  I just got home from the State Leaders Summit in Colorado Springs. 

            I’ll start with the coolest part of the weekend: The conclusion of our Men’s Freestyle Camp and our ongoing Greco Camp.  Our Women were on break, while we were there.

            Our FS men left camp, tired and a little edgy… both good things.  Everyone’s healthy.  They’ll spend a week with family, then report to Phoenix to add the final coat of polish.

            Our Greco team will stay hot for a few more days, then recover, actively, in Colorado Springs, before going straight into Vegas.  Our Women will finish their recovery period, polish up, and follow the Greco team in by one day.  It’s SHOWTIME !!!

            The sessions of the Leaders’ Summit were upbeat, on target and productive.  I caught a couple of points that I think apply to us, either directly or indirectly.

            Your state leaders continue to perfect the separation criteria for Fargo.  I wasn’t in on any of the voting to accept proposals, but I watched them work diligently on those proposals.  Please stay in touch with your own State Chair to catch up on what was finally passed.

            Scheduling discussions continue to wade the muddy waters of overcrowding.  Again, your State Chairs are doing the best they can with what they’ve got.  It’ll never get perfect, but they are representing you and your kids.

            One interesting presentation affects you directly.  This was a pretty hot discussion in the Board of Directors’ meeting, Saturday morning… Card Prices.  Anticipate  the prices of Club Charters, Event Sanctions and Coaches’ Cards going up… immediately.

            Bottom line is, we gotta’ generate some revenue.  The organization’s expenses have risen, substantially.  This is especially true in Liability Premiums.

            Personally, I favor sucking it up ourselves, rather than asking our kids for more.  That seems to be the consensus.

            As a concession, though, the proposal is to lighten up on Background Checks, requiring you do that every THREE years, instead of two.  I feel like our needs are being heard and acted upon.  Keep Calm and Carry On !

            Some states offer a High School TEAM membership that adds up to a sunstantial discount per kid.  Please contact your State Chair to see if you are one of those states.

            One particularly interesting presentation was Tom Kuisle (MN), on Recruitment and Retention of Officials.  Knowing how lucky we are, in the Southern Plains, nevertheless we have to admit there’s a systemic problem.  You don’t have to be a Rocket Surgeon to figure out the Aging Population that makes up our Volunteer Officiating corps.

            Kuisle makes a great point:  Recruiting is NOT our problem.  Retention IS.  We’re all getting quite a few late teens / early 20’s to give refereeing a shot.  But, life’s gonna’ happen and we’re not gonna’ survive if we don’t either KEEP ‘em through the strain, or GET ‘em BACK, when life eases up.

            I plan to speak, in detail, on this, in a separate piece.  For now, suffice it to say, you owe it to the sport to present Refereeing as the intellectual equivalent ‘Give-Back’ to Coaching.  Easy ?  Not this generation.  Necessary ?  Hell, yeah !

            Next up, we have our annual Fall Coaches’ Seminar, in Colorado Srpings, October  15-18.  Please check with your State Chair to make sure your state gets every bed it can.  The weekend features absolutely the best clinicians in the country.  It is a great jump-start to the High School season.

            I will get you a wrap up of the World Championship, in Vegas.  I hope a lot of you will be there to help ‘Welcome the World’.   Please look me up, if you’re in Vegas.

            Thanx for what you do !  I look forward to seeing you.






Cadet / Jr Nationals NM - Results

Cadet Women

Jennesis Martinez @ 95# (0-2)

Wrestling up a weight to get matches, Jennesis wrestled at 95 # and competed well.  Her two loses came against the eventual Third and Fourth place finishers.


Cadet Men - Greco

Joseph Otero @ 113#

vs IL (L -- 8-16)

vs NC (W -- 21-7)

vs ME (L -- 6-8)


Shawn Nieto @ 132#

vs Idaho (L)

vs MD (W -- 16-2)

vs PA (W -- fall)

vs PA (L -- 0-10)


Cadet Men - Freestyle

Joseph Otero @ 106#

vs NC (W -- Fall)

vs AK (W -- 12-2)

vs OK (L -- 0-10)

vs MO (L -- 18-25)


Shawn Nieto @ 132#

vs ID (L -- 2-14)

vs UT (W -- 10-0)

vs OK (W -- 12-3)

vs FL (L -- 6-7)


Junior Men - Greco

Zak Vigil @ 138#

vs WI (L -- 0-10)

vs TX (L -- fall)


Junior Men - Freestyle

Zak Vigil @ 138#

vs NJ (L -- 0-10)

vs IA (L -- 7-18)

JULY 25, 2015





Coaches, Referees and Leaders,

            Congratulations on a fantastic performance in Fargo.  The Southern Plains certainly made our mark !  With the caliber of our athletes, our coaches, officials and leadership, I think we make a pretty good team.  Thanks for your part.

            Hats off to UWW’s work, on rules, over the last two years.  Wrestling is beautiful again !  I don’t know if anyone can run a matrix on Point Scored under the bad rules and those scored at last week’s event.  It would make a very interesting read.

            The biggest sigh of relief is that we can all comfortably assure our Olympians of 2020, 2024 and even 2028, that their future is bright.


Leaders Summit

            Next up is our State Leaders Summit in Colorado Springs.  We are planning a National; Coaches Council meeting during that Summit, open to Coaching representatives from every state. If you can be there, join us.

            Many of us can’t make that trip, and that’s understandable.  But, please, if you have an idea, fresh from the Fargo grind, share it.  Either get it to your State Chair, or me, so we can voice it.

            I’ll give you an example.  I intend to push a proposal that will “Allow our National Champions to go Directly to their own Coach, after their hand is raised”.  I get that various media outlets are trying to stream the experience in real time.  But, I think we miss a lot in depriving kids the spontaneity and intimacy of that jump, into their Coach’s arms.

            If anything, I believe they may get a better interview, if the kid has had just a minute or two to grasp.  I believe physical and emotional contact with their Coach provides a certain closure on the experience.

            I also believe that moment is the Ultimate Pay-day for our Volunteer Coaches.  That single hug gives us the gratification and inspiration to make the effort for a thousand more kids.

            So… there’s my little crusade.  What’s yours ?  Make sure you have a reasonable chance at being heard.  Don’t go ballistic on a piddly bitch.  But get your good ideas to one or more of us , so we can go to bat for the greater good.


Taking Care of You

            We all felt that sigh of relief, depending on how nay days we were in Fargo.  Those few who share my insanity and stuck it out for nine days, certainly need some quiet time.

            Please… take that time.  Use the environment of home and the understanding of family to soak up some silence.

            Bio-chemically, you’ve been jacked up on Cortisol to stay hyper-vigilant and maintain your ability to fight.  Now that the battles are over, and your kids are safe, that cortisol stops flowing and is replaced by a flood of Serotonin.  You just want o sleep !

            Listen to your body.  Sleep often.  Go for a run, a bike ride, or a walk.  Sit on the porch and enjoy a cup of coffee or a beer.  Heal up.  You’ve earned it !

            This is a good time to include a daily hit of ‘Airborn’, some extra vitamin C, and maybe some B Complex.  We’ve got to help our bodies get through this temporary period of vulnerability in our immune system.  You may want to off the same suggestion to your athletes.


            This seems like the perfect time for me to say, “Be Well”.  Thanx for all you do.  Congratulations on your efforts and your outcomes.  I’ll see you soon.




Rusty's Update - July

JULY 9, 2015





Coaches, Referees and Leaders,

            A week from today, we begin our annual “Greatest Show on Earth” !  I look forward to seeing you and your kids.  Many of you have just finished your intensive camps and are feeling well-prepared.  The rest will finish up in the next few days.

            In regards to Rules and Refs… prepare to relax.  (It’s OK… nobody will tell on you !)  Things are good.  It’s possible some of you saw a new memo from UWW, released through USAW and Coach Dominguez, this morning.  It addresses “Adjustments” to freestyle.  PLEASE… don’t panic !

            The “Adjustments” are no surprise and they are just that: adjustments.  They simply eliminate a couple of differences between FS and GR, that have arisen from the work UWW did on Greco rules earlier.  It’s all a Good Thing.

            EVERY turn scores TWO.  If you cross your own back, during the execution of your own turn, there can be no consequence (the dreaded ‘Auto-Touche’ is gone).  If you step out in the process of FINISHING, you score.  If you step out in a LEGITIMATE attempt that has the opponent lifted but doesn’t finish, it’ll be waved off.  If you step out defending, making some half-assed attempt, or for any other reason, you need to expect to give up ONE point.  If you just SHOVE an opponent out, expect NOT to get a point.

            So… is there some room for error, for judgment, some ambiguity in this ?  Yes, there is.  Should it cost an athlete their focus or cost them a match ?   Absolutely not.  You, the Coach, keep your head in the game.  Communicate with this well-prepared kid.  Get the offense rolling and get the point back.

            The only other area, even the least gray, will be the diagnosis and penalizing of Passivity.  The rules we’re wrestling under are great, compared to not long ago.  As time goes on, refereeing crews will continue to get better at understanding passivity.  So will we, as Coaches.  Until then, prepare kids to eat a call… and find ways to profit from it.

            Really, nobody is planning to see much passivity in the Cadet and Junior competition.  Still, there does come a time when the crew simply HAS TO pick one and call him/her passive.  It might be your kid.  Have a plan !

            Remember:  A freestyle match cannot go beyond two minutes, at Zero-Zero, without somebody going on the clock.  In these age groups, there is NO forced par terre, in Greco.

            That’s the deal with Rules and Refs.  Please, if something jumps up, find me !  I’ll either answer your question or get you face to face with someone who can.




            Here’s the schedule of meetings, I know about, in Fargo.  I’m sure Mike Juby will chime in, with notice of our Region get-togethers.  Everybody gets exhausted in Fargo.  That said, your voice is important.  Study the detailed scheduled ( and get where you need to be.

            The first National Coaches Council meeting of the week is MONDAY, from 5:00 to 6:00.  Ironically, it coincides with a “Coaches Burger Bash”, from 4:30 to 6:00.  Please… I agree… Free food is Good Food… but get at least One from your state to bring their burger to the meeting !  There’s no limit.  All of our Coaches are welcome !  The Council needs your voice, and it’s an opportunity for the Southern Plains to stay out in front.

            There’s another Social for Coaches, Wednesday evening, 7:30.  This one is sponsored by the Millers at All-American Sports.  Grab a beer and a snack, but don’t forget to say Thanx, to Dave and Joe, for the things they do for wrestling.

            Our second National Coaches Council meeting is on THURSDAY, from 7:30 to 9:00.  Again, please get at least one person from your state there.  All are welcome.

            The National Coaches Council is set up to be a “Hot Line” for USAW’s Coaches to make an impact.  Speaking for the Southern Plains, Coach Hag and I are constantly pushing to strengthen your voice.  I know there are other Council Members, from other regions, who are equally passionate in supporting our Grass Roots.

            Please don’t hesitate to bring me, or any Council member, your ideas.  It’s our job to give those ideas wings (or at least wheels… OK maybe a Walker).

            If something’s burning at you, while we’re in Fargo, please TEXT it to me:  505.980.9041.

            Have a great week.  I look forward to seeing you.




Rusty's Update

JUNE 10, 2015





Coaches, Referees and Leaders,

            First, let me say, “Thank You”, for allowing me to continue serving you on our National Coaches Council.  I promise to keep working hard to earn your confidence.

            Next, Congratulations on, what I heard was, a wonderful Regional Championship.  As always, Thanks to Kansas for hosting a quality event.  All the input I’ve received was positive.  We always will have more work to do in our respective roles.  It’s the nature of the beast.

            Now, as we move into our Duals, and towards Fargo, don’t look for any earth-shattering rule changes.  We are where we need to be, in both Olympic styles.  What I think you may notice, in the officiating, is some intensive study of diagnosing and managing passivity calls.

            With this will come the necessary Trial and Error… and that’s OK !  All of us have to realize that, through a decade of really weird rules, we’ve raised an entire generation of referees who have been forced to stand idly by, and witness extreme passivity.

            The rules we have, going into Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo, help athletes and coaches diminish passivity through natural focus on offense.  It’s still gonna’ take a lot of practice for officials to sharpen awareness and timing, both of which are critical to the flow of the match.

            Here’s the deal:  We need to expose our athletes to situations where passivity becomes significant in the outcome.  We also need to expose them to lots of situations where it doesn’t.  Our kids need to know how to eat a call… good one or bad one… and what they can change to fight a call off.

            You may have to practice eating some calls, yourself.  We have a brilliant generation of coaches, who grew up alongside those referees, that are having to learn to “Feel” passivity.  Make your voice count, but let’s not slip into that notion that EVERY call is an assault on our heritage !  Most of those calls are not gonna’ decide the match.  Pick your battles.

            I think the Duals are going to provide all roles with both quantity and quality of practice.  I’ll digest what I get from those Duals and shoot you another update, before we head to Fargo. 

            Congrats to our Senior Greco World Team.  Enjoy the Men’s and Women’s Freestyle this weekend.





Rusty's May Update

MAY 2015





Coaches & Leaders,

            By now, the great majority of you have seen or heard of UWW’s announcement about Greco-Roman rules that came out late last week.   I know that all of us have our own take on UWW decisions, on rule changes… on anything that rocks our boat.

            I certainly have earned my own reputation as the ‘rebel’, the guy that questions authority, the coach that referees, the referee that coaches.  That said, I’m telling you, straight up, I trust the leadership of UWW.  I believe in the changes they are implementing and I have confidence in the way that leadership is guiding our sport.  Here’s why.

            If you read the release (, you noticed first off that all national federations were asked to make the decisions public immediately, rather than trickling ‘em out, subjecting them to word-of-mouth interpretation… or worse, secrecy.

            Second, you noticed that UWW President Lalovic spoke for himself, rather than going through some barrage of middle-men.  More important is what the President said.

            President Lalovic told us that his leadership team is LISTENING to the needs of athletes, coaches, referees and fans. That point was made clear in re-instituting Greco’s beloved Five-Point throw.  Good call !

            The President and his team respected  the training and preparation of the world’s best athletes, preparing for Rio de Janeiro.  They maintained the bulk of the rules our Senior athletes are accustomed to, including opportunities to choose to continue in par terre, while eliminating the possibility of DQ for passivity.  Good call !

            For me, the greatest thing President Lalovic said was “Looking forward to Tokyo 2020…”.  He was making reference to the rules our Juniors, Cadets and School-Boys will go forward with.  Can we expect some more refinements ?  Absolutely !  But, that’s Ok.  We’ll adjust and be fine.

            You see, this is the part where we remember being gut-punched on February 12, 2013.  For UWW leadership to take the responsibility for continuing to make Greco-Roman wrestling more modern and beautiful is exactly the vision we expect and demand.  Good  call !

            This week, we’ll get a chance to test all these rule applications at high levels of competition.  The wrestling in Las Vegas brings in some great kids at all levels, not to mention the Seniors.

            I will get you a summary ASAP, after the event.  Until then, let me encourage you to be encouraged.  It’s refreshing to see our global organization being led by honest men and women with honest intentions for our sport.


Ciao,  Rusty

Rusty's Late Mid May Update

MAY 2015





Coaches & Leaders,

            Having just finished the several tournaments in Vegas, I have nothing but good news to report to our region.  As we prepare for our Regional Championship, we can breathe a collective sigh of relief and let our athletes focus on conditioning and technique.

            Watching the application of different rules for different styles, as well as for different age groups, I thought things went smoothly.  The officials in Vegas seemed to adapt to the subtleties and timing of Passivity calls, specific to style and period length.  We, as coaches, can remind our athletes that, in a tight match, Passivity is part of the process.  We can incorporate appropriate tactic and practice a lot of situational drills.  There are bound to be some really tight matches in Dodge City !

            I don’t think it’s a secret that I have a little bias toward Greco.  That bias was developed during the 1980’s and 90’s.  The sport was beautiful then.  During the first decade of the 2000’s, it became increasingly difficult to watch my beloved Greco.  Big sigh… the Greco-Roman wrestling we saw, last weekend, was beautiful again.

            This seems due, in large part, to the PREVENTITIVE rules applications, rather than the punitive ones.  I know there are some who are concerned with not having forced par terre, in age groups below seniors.  It really doesn’t look like it’s going to be a big problem.

            The recent rules updates are kicking officials in the butt, hard enough to get ‘em to enforce those “Prevention” rules.  Keeping guys off the hands, keeping their heads up, chests on, hips in, all seem to be producing points.  The passivity sequence looks like it’s upsetting the balance of score, just enough to change pace and position.

            Par terre wrestling is all earned.  Once there, officials are doing a good job enforcing the newly strengthened rules for defense.  We saw good scoring in transition, from takedown directly to turn.  However, we also saw guys defend successfully, from a completely hands free, open position.  Of note to your kids: It is still PERMISSABLE to attack hands, defending a Front Head Lock position.

            Being the optimist, I really feel like we’re going to be happy with the way current rules enable both Freestyle and Greco.  I know we have work to do, but the work you’re doing in the room has a pretty solid focus, going into our Regional.  As always, I’m happy to get you information, individually or in groups.  Let me know.


            On a related topic, I found out, just last week, that I cannot be at our Regional.  That bothers me, but it’s not a choice.  I am required to attend the Grappling World Team Trials.

            Every two years, we vote on our representation to the National Coaches Council.  I have been that guy and I definitely hope you’ll let me continue.  You know that communication is the biggest part of that job.  I don’t mind telling you, I work my ass off, in outdoing the other regions.  I use every resource to get you Reliable information when you need it most.

            There’s my campaign pitch.  I hope you’ll let me continue to represent you.  I also hope you have a great tournament.  Please remember to HAVE FUN watching the products of your effort.

I’ll get you another update, before we get started with the Duals.          Ciao 

Rusty's April Update






Coaches & Leaders,

            I’ve heard from leaders, tournament organizers and coaches in all our Southern Plains states.  It sounds like things are going well and that we are being able to implement the age group proposals for Greco-Roman wrestling without a lot of fuss.

            Here a a couple of little touch-up items.  Technical Superiority is a 10 point spread in BOTH styles, Juniors and younger, according to USAW modification.  We are still scoring REVERSALS as ONE point, as there is specific mention of a change in the proposed rules delivered to our Coaching and Officiating leadership.

            I know that each state and local organizer have their own creative mechanisms to promote kids wrestling both styles.  It seems critical, both for individuals and for the protection and development of the style, that we do all we can to encourage participation in both Freestyle and Greco.

            Some of our states hold “Freco” or “Fun-Style events that feature both Olympic styles in each bout.  Some hold a Greco tournament and a Freestyle tournament in the same event, on the same day.  Some hold a style per day, in two day events.  Others host style specific tournaments in different venues and, perhaps on different weekends. 

            No matter the mechanism, all our states are maximizing exposure to both Olympic styles and our athletes are benefiting.   It’s important for us to recognize that the bulk of our grass-roots kids hinge their wrestling dreams on winning one or more State High School crowns.

            This is a good thing.  This is how it should be.  So, how do we, as coaches and leaders employ the current rule application in Greco-Roman and Freestyle wrestling to facilitate a High School championship ?

            Time to dig out your old copy of Vision Quest !  Lowden Swain had ‘The Dream’.  He didn’t aspire to get on the podium at Fargo, or make our Cadet World team.  He simply wanted to beat ‘The Guy’… the one nobody could beat... and become a State Champion.

            Cut to the climax.  Do you recall how Lowden beat Shute ?  He THREW him and pinned him, with a few seconds left.  Threw him !  Now… as much as you and I want to be pragmatic in helping kids with goal setting, few of them dream of taking a guy down seven times in the third period to win a state title.  But they DO dream about throwing a guy and pinning him.

            Wrestling both Olympic styles in spring and summer feeds the dream.  We adopt a whole different language and philosophy about basic positions and the all-important notion of risk.

            Examine this:  During our winter season, we go Jekyll & Hyde on kids, about throwing.  In November, we scream through the room, “Tommy, if you stand straight up like that, he’s gonna’ throw you !”  Then, in a money match, say late January of February, we scream at the same kid, “Tommy, you gotta’ throw him !”  Sucks to be Tommy !

            That is, until Spring.    Now, in a ‘Frecko’, or ‘Funstyle’, or Multiple Style tournament, Tommy can explore and experiment with different stances and positions, varying levels, pushing and pulling, a variety of ties.  He can accept the risk of his study, with appropriate risk and reward. 

            Tommy can learn to move his feet when he pummels.  He can find his ducks and drags and spins.  He can learn when to sag, when to pop, and how to hide his head.

            And, Tommy can come back into the High School or College room, next fall, one step closer to living his dream.  You and I both know there are far more wrestlers, behind by a bunch, who try to throw, get caught and get pinned, than there are miracle-workers.  But, we also know they were getting pounded before the throw.  And… they’re sleeping a little better having given it hell.


            I will study hard, in Vegas, and get you the best information I can.  Enjoy your local and state events.




APRIL 2015





Coaches & Leaders,

​No sooner had I gotten my March piece finished, and we start getting “proposals’ for rule changes in the Olympic Styles.  Please DO NOT panic !  Some fine-tuning is about all I see.  I will address significant points in this update.  Please also note:  My late March piece appears AFTER the end of this one… for the record.

​First, though, congratulations to all Southern Plains Athletes and Coaches for a great performance at the FolkstyleNational Championship, in Cedar Falls !  Our kids looked great, and much of that is due to your efforts.  Thanx !

​OK… rule change proposals.  I have to emphasize that I am not going to speculate on rumor.  I am responsible for getting you guys information you can take to the podium.

​Senior athletes will be unaffected, we are told, through Rio.  The 2014 World Championship rules of both Greco and Freestyle will remain in force.

​Take a look at the rules, below, exactly as they were sent to USAW and USWOA leaders from UWW.  These rules for AGE-GROUP athletes were adopted by our Junior Olympic Committee on April 8th.  I will offer some editorial coaching tips after you see the rules, as adopted.


“These Greco Roman rules are to be used by all age groups below the senior level this year.
Freestyle rules remain as they were in 2014.

Proposal: Every caution should be evaluated by caution (0)  + 2 points
• For example, head butt, punching/slapping, all leg faults (offensive or defensive, holding the legs, bending the leg, kicking action.....) grasping the singlet, twisting finger, fleeing the mat,fleeing the hold, refusing to take the correct position in the par terre start..
• (Currently types of penalty depends on infraction, sometimes caution + 1pt, sometimes caution 2 pts.
Proposal: The wrestler who executes a regular hold from standing position but does not bring his opponent into a danger position or cannot control him by passing behind, will score 2 points (Currently 1 point, correct throw)
Proposal: The wrestler that executes a regular hold from standing position and places his opponent in the danger position will score 4 points.
Proposal: The wrestler who executes a hold by lifting his opponent from the ground and does not place him in a danger position will score 2 points.  (Currently 1 point)
Rule: The wrestler who executes a hold by lifting his ipponent from the ground and placing him in a danger position will score 4 points.  (Currently existing rule)
• Elimination of 5 points.
Proposal: All gut wrenches regardless how they are executed in danger position or not will be scored 2 points.
• (Current rule; 2 pts. for danger position, 1 pt. for hand to hand, no danger)
Proposal: No more ordered par terre for passive wrestler.
Proposal: In order to encourage active wrestling, in case the attacking wrestler who steps in to protection area during his action he will not be penalized by giving 1 point to opponent.
• If he can score he will receive his point(s).
• If he cannot score, referee will stop the bout and restart in center.
• (Current rule; the attacking wrestler will lose 1 point in case he steps out during his action.)
• Pushing out will not be penalized 1 point.
• 1 point for step out in other cases remains the same.
• When a wrestler visibly and intentionally pushes his opponent into the protection area, he will NOT score 1 point.
Proposal: To avoid disqualifications from a bout as a result of 3 cautions for passivity, in GR wrestling, the wrestlers will be penalized by caution only in fleeing the hold, fleeing the mat and illegal actions. (caution + 2 points)
• For passivity wrestling, penalization of passive wrestler will be without cautions as followed:
• If a wrestler is blocking, interlocking fingers, thwarting his opponent or avoiding wrestling in standing position, the referee will verbally warn him by using UWW vocabulary (red/blue head up/open /contact / no block /attack...)
• If the wrestler continues to be passive, the referee will ask for passivity. When either the judge or mat chairman(majority of officiating body) agress with this decision, the referee will warn the passive wrestler officially, showing passivity with his left (red) or right (blue) hand raised high up in the air and speak in a loud and clear voice using UWW vocabulary 'attention red/blue passive'  WITHOUT STOPPING THE BOUT. At the same time, one colored light (in the color of the wrestler's singlet) will be turned on at the corner of passive wrestler on the scoreboard.
• In repeated cases when a wrestler again continues to be passive after a verbal warning, the referee will again ask for passivity and if the majority of the refereeing body confirms this decision, the referee will say again to the wrestler in a loud and clear voice 'attention-red/blue ! passive'.
• A second light will be lit and the opponent will be awarded 1 point, which the referee will then announce to the passive wrestler, 'red/blue, attention-penalty point! WITHOUT STOPPING THE BOUT.
• The two lights will turn off and the opponent will receive one technical point.
• Same procedure will continue the whole bout- every two passivity lights for passive wrestler will result in one technical point to the opponent
Proposal: In order to give a chance to the top wrestler to execute a hold in par terre wrestling, the bottom wrestler must defend himself with his both arms open/ away from the body.
• The bottom wrestler cannot 'close' himself by having his elbows close to his body, or join his elbows and his knees or legs in order to prevent the upper wrestler from taking a hold.
• Also, bottom wrestler must not prevent the top wrestler from executing a hold by breaking or holding his fingers and/or wrists. He is only allowed to push from his opponent's torso not the arms at all.
• The wrestler who behaves against this rule, after a strict verbal warning will be IMMEDIATELY PENALIZED by a caution and 2 points and put back in par terre.

Proposal: To prevent/to block a wrestler from executing a hold, or to wrestle actively by grabbing and interlocking fingers, holding wrists for long time is strictly forbidden. The wrestler will be penalized by a caution and his opponent will receive 2 points.
• Also the wrestlers will be encouraged / forced to wrestle chest to chest (the original standing wrestling position in greco).
• The wrestler who refuses to wrestle chest to chest will be considered passive.”


OK ?  Now, let’s see what we can simplify.  Realize you are now seeing Rusty’s Opinions.  Please keep a questioning eye and feel free to share any disagreement !

​Start with scoring actions.  Everything, INCLUDING “Correct Throws” and ALL turns, scores either TWO or FOUR.  DANGER is the difference.

​A foul, a flee (hold or mat), an illegal action scores a CAUTION and TWO… logical, because you deprived your opponent from scoring.

​Step outs are gonna’ get a little weird !  Step out to defend = LOSE ONE POINT.  Step out and attack = Score what you earn, or GET ONE POINT.  Push a guy out… straight arms, no technique = PROBABLY will NOT score.

COACHING TIP:  If your opponent has their butt to the zone, near the edge, we want to keep BENT elbows, chest high, head up, and APPEAR to be attacking underhooks !  Get that point !

​Passivity calls are NOT cautions.  I suspect they’ll be entered as ‘P’.  Every SECOND ‘P’ will earn ONE point for the aggressive wrestler.  Eventually, there will be lights on the scoreboard.  For now, tournament directors, think about Red and Blue Plastic Cups.  You only need ONE EACH per mat…  First warning = Cup Visible, Second warning = Score the point and REMOVE THE CUP… Rinse… Repeat.

COACHING TIP:  In practice, DESIGN SITUATIONS with one warning, one point, one warning.  In competition, COMMUNICATE the warning and/or point.

​When we think about PAR TERRE wrestling, DO NOT PANIC !  However, DO let athletes know that getting taken down can be terminal !  Your ONLY defense is heavy hips and motion.  Other than that, you’re pretty much a sitting duck.  

​There is no more FORCED par terre.  You’re only going to be put back down if there’s a foul from par terre.

COACHING TIPS:  On Bottom, Glue your hips, create weight with your feet, know where his head is, keep elbows off the mat and hands in front of shoulders.  If you get taken down, defend IMMEDIATELY.  You have to fight him off for a few good seconds.

On top, SCORE IN TRANSITION.  If you take a guy down, look to TERMINATE.  Stay busy with your ONE best attack.

​On working hands, grabbing fingers, using low head position, my best advice is DRILL FOR PURPOSE.  Hanging on a guy’s fingers, or burying your head will be expensive !

Move his hands, gain superior head position and ACT. (That means look to score… not create drama !)


​My friends, that’s the best I’ve got for you, right now.  You and I both have local tournaments this weekend.  Let’s get our state and region Coaches and Referees working TOGETHER to put our kids in position to fight a guy, not a rule !

​Work each other hard in April !  We want to be ready for the money matches in May, June, July.

​Get me your “What-Ifs” and “Yeah-Buts”.  I will continue to get you reliable information.


​On a different note:  When you look at the March update, you’ll see that Hag’s and I WERE organizing a tour for late June.  That tour DID NOT MAKE.  Sorry.




February Update from Rusty Davidson






Coaches & Leaders,

            Congratulations on your scholastic season !  Whether your kids won it or were last, you need to know that there are a lot of people who appreciate you.  I am one.

            As we make the transition to the season of Olympic Styles, there are some housekeeping chores you need to look after.  Talk with kids and parents about how to get their USA Wrestling membership, and the importance of doing so before they start their ‘club’ workouts.

            Take a look at and your State websites for schedules of events.  Make, and communicate, plans about which events, how many, and who.  Include volunteer coaches in the planning.  People give up time and money to do this.  Help them help you.

            Many of you are active through the scholastic season.  If that’s you… Congrats !  Your tireless efforts on behalf of student-athletes do not go un-noticed.  You are appreciated.

            I put together a piece that offers a layman’s view of the physical and psychological stress of coaching.  It follows, in the next few pages.  Take a look.  See what you think.  If it has any value, please share it with your assistant coaches and volunteers.

            I’m excited to see many of you at upcoming Regional and National events.  If there’s anything I can offer or find out, that will help you help kids, please do not hesitate to contact me, as your Regional Representative.







Prepared for USA Wrestling’s

National Coach Education Curriculum

Rusty Davidson,  February 2015


            Whether it’s your first season or thirtieth, as a scholastic Wrestling Coach, we all go through this.  None of us can really explain it to family members, colleagues at work, or friends.  But, it’s there… and it’s real.

            The end of a scholastic wrestling season affects us, almost like a death.  It should.  A wrestling season… any sport season… does develop ‘a life of its own’.  We mourn, and we should.  Whether that ‘life’ was glorious or filled with suffering, it’s over.  It had a character and a personality and memories that can never be relived.  Mourning is part of celebrating.  Celebrating is part of mourning.

            What you need to know, and explain to those who care, is that there is actually a chemical reason for what you’re going through.  You can’t escape it, but you can minimize its impact and speed your own rebound.

            There’s actually a pretty complicated chemistry to it, along with the impact the chemistry has upon our psychological make up.  I can offer a very simplistic view.

            All of us are adrenaline junkies… no surprise there.  When or scholastic season goes into full swing, in early November, our exposure to the adrenaline shots becomes more frequent.  Our body’s response to adrenaline is to produce serotonin, which offers a calm, often euphoric.  We sleep pretty well in November.

            Cortisol is a natural by-product of adrenaline.  As the frequency of adrenaline production increases, cortisol puts up a kind of ‘force field’.  We become hyper-vigilant.  Heading into December, and competition, our productivity peaks.  We maintain this edge for the next three months.

            The down-side to cortisol production is that it sucks down our body’s stores of vitamins and minerals.  It begins to block our production of serotonin.  Rest becomes more necessity than luxury, and we never quite catch up.     

            Obviously, we peak, emotionally, for our State Championship.  Then… the world goes quiet !   Over the next 72 hours, as cortisol production moderates and adrenaline production slows, that serotonin flow can turn into a flood.  Many of us get to about Tuesday afternoon, following State, and find ourselves totally without personality !

            I think it helps if we can walk ourselves, and our significant others, through the science of what’s happening to us.  It has to be terribly difficult to love a wrestling coach… anytime… but especially that first ten days after State.  The behavior is exactly the same as a mourning process.  It’s a faster version, but it follows the same progression.

            You, knowing this, can do a little extra to protect yourself and heal faster.  You can share some ideas with your athletes, about minimizing their own risk of physical illness, as they come off the physical and psychological stress of their competitive cycle.

            Help yourself with a little bonus in vitamin / mineral supplement.  Something like the “Airborne” brand, or its knock-offs, helps your body make up what the stress cost it.  Add even more of the ‘B’ Complex, ‘C’ and ‘D’.  That cortisol production really pounded these reserves.

            Depending on where you live, some increased exposure to sunlight can really help.  Whatever sun your geography offers speeds your body’s ability to re-establish its own balance.

            Socially, you’ve got to ‘walk the walk’.  Make it clear that other people’s feelings are important.  Explain that your being “Quiet” is a good thing… that you are processing outcomes, enjoying memories, celebrating successes.  Re-assure those who love you that the quiet will only last a few days (up to 10).  Let them know that, as soon as the processing is done, you’ll be happy to share what’s on your mind.  Remind them, often, that you’re OK !

            Enforce reasonable limits on your own behavior.  Make a plan about what you’re going to accomplish, in the office.  Get it done and get out.  You need to be in the environment to fully process your mourning / celebration needs.  You also need to get OUT of the environment to begin ‘moving on’… balancing your non-wrestling life with plans for the next season.

            If you coach a spring sport, that’s obviously gonna’ help.  If you’re active in the Olympic styles, you have a productive outlet.  If you’re avid in a hobby, it’s gonna’ help.

            Working with staff, parents, boosters, I recommend holding your banquets and celebrations, sooner rather than later.  This helps all stakeholders fill the scrapbook, turn the page and move on.

            If you happen to be one of those ‘Old Dogs’, I haven’t said anything you didn’t figure out, a long time ago.  I hope you’ll nod your head and help some of these tips sink in, for our younger colleagues and their families.

            We always promote Wrestling as the most healthy of lifestyles.  We have to remember rule number one:  “To properly behave as caretaker to others, we must take care of ourselves first”.

            Congratulations and Thanks, for a great scholastic season !


Dear Coaches,


Please note that the CAO (Christopher Albert Otero) THROWDOWN was not an NMJW hosted event.  This event was hosted by my husband Chris Otero and I in memory of our son Little Chris, a New Mexico Wrestler who passed away while serving our country as a United States Marine.  Please note that all proceeds from this event (including the $20 charged for additional coaches bands, beyond the free band for every 5 registered wresters) went directly to the Semper Fi Fund in Chris’s memory.  The Semper Fi Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting injured and critically ill U.S. Armed Forces and their family members in their time of need All costs and information were posted on the tournament flyer advertised on Semper Fi Fund website, NMJW web site and Track Wrestling web site since October 17, 2014.  


Thanks to NMJW and USA Wrestling who donated their time, equipment and support at NO CHARGE, the event was a complete success in every way.  New Mexico Wrestling raised $8,649.00 at this event to donate to the Semper Fi Fund.  Even better news, The Rob Parsons Foundation, owner of Go Daddy, matched our donation allowing us to double our impact to those who serve and sacrifice for this great nation of ours on a daily basis in the amount of $17,298.00!  Even more amazing than that?  Watch our young wrestlers not only wrestle for themselves, but for a greater cause with meaning.  It was a truly  inspirational event, and what a great lesson to teach our youth! 


Coaches, we are truly thankful for the wrestling community’s support in our efforts.  After speaking personally to many of you on the phone prior to the tournament, I know many of you have served, are currently serving our have friends and family members currently deployed, thank you for your sacrifice and service.  We will continue to honor you and our sons memory annually at the CAO THROWDOWN. 


Thank you NMJW, Rio Rancho High School Wrestling, and USA Wrestling for your support and allowing our youth wrestlers to be a part of something bigger, something with meaning, and most of all something positive. 



Tereah and Chris Otero

Follow CAO Tournament on Facebook:

Never Forget

January Update from Rusty Davidson






Coaches & Leaders,

            Happy New Year !  I hope your Scholastic Season is going well.  It’s been a long time since I communicated with you on behalf of your National Coaches Council.  We went through some interesting shakes.  No crisis… nothing earth-shaking to report.  But I do feel a responsibility to keep the Southern Plains folks up to date.  You guys elect me to do just that.

            The Council met in October, during the Fall Coach Seminar in Colorado Springs.  There was some discussion about our region’s communication model, and it was decided that I should begin distributing our updates nationwide.  That decision didn’t last long.

I had followed up, immediately with my first attempt at balancing the field.  I think a few of you got that October update, but it was never distributed nationally.  It was basically a summary of the Council Meeting and Coach Seminar.  If you would like a copy, let me know.

So… we’re back to the status quo.  I represent the Southern Plains and maintaining a consistent line of communication with our Coaches is my primary responsibility.  To be honest, this is the way I like it.  I don’t have any secrets or a magic wand, but I like feeling a little competitive with other regions.  I hope transparent and timely communication gives the Southern Plains just a little advantage.

I will get back on a schedule of getting you some tidbit, approximately once a month.  Obviously, if information comes across my screen that can snag us a little advantage… or demands your attention, I’ll shoot it out right away.

Scroll down.  In the pages that follow this one, I’ve added a commentary that may come in handy for High School Coaches, this time of year.


Good Luck in All You Do,













The “LITTLE” Things

For High School Wrestling Coaches

January 2015

Rusty Davidson, USA Wrestling National Coaches’ Council


            It’s that time of year.  The so-called “little things” are going to determine whether High School Wrestlers step onto the podium or watch from the stands.

            I referee High School Wrestling and I notice a lot of so-called “little things”.  I want to share just a few, with the hope that I might save a handful of Coaches just a tiny bit of frustration.

            Going into mid-season, we’re starting our conference schedule and getting into the events that will determine State seeding.  As Coaches, we focus almost all our attention on technical and tactical details that help win matches.

            Unfortunately, our intense focus occasionally distracts us from some non-technical detail that bites us in the butt.

New Shoes

            When we first adopted the rule that requires laces to be “secured”, we made a big deal of taping every kids shoes.  Since the development of all sorts of mechanisms that “secure” those laces, our intensity has faded.

            Lots of High School Wrestlers get new shoes for Christmas.  Their old pair had velcro, so they’ve never heard us say, “Tape those laces”.  The shoes look cool and we’re busy looking at things above the ankle.

            I watched a pretty good kid, just last week, lose… in the semis… by one point.  That point was the penalty for his new shoe coming untied, the SECOND time.  It was not a ticky-tack call.  The official had tried, valiantly, to bluff the opposing coach on the first incident.  To expect a ref to overlook a rule a second time is not fair to anyone.

            The solution is to make time, in an early January workout, to ask, “Anybody get wrestling shoes for Christmas ?  Let’s have a look”.


Headgear Issues

            Similar to our shoes problem, we get busy and don’t notice headgear.  Add to that, most of us spent our whole careers looking at traditional, four-strap headgears, with the straps connected by one or more strips of tape.  Oops !

            Remembering that the rule against that tape is almost two years old, we have to implement a quick plan.  First off, avoid trying to explain to High School kids why the same tape they’re required to wear on their shoelaces is illegal on their headgear.    Just make it clear that it costs ‘em a point, a time out, and their focus.

            Ask ‘em to criss-cross their straps, if it’ll help.  Consider ordering a package of the hard plastic clips that serve the same function as the tape.

            While you’re at it, check to see that all the padding is in place and intact.  No sharps edges, metal or plastic can be exposed through damaged foam.

            During your Live Drilling, find ways to have kids Practice Buckling Up, then Checking In, then Walking to the Center.  If we can make this routine, we save some grief during competition.


Hair Issues

            While we’re looking at headgear, the most obvious new issue is the Hair Cover.  After a year’s warning, the rule that any hair cover must be effectively attached to headgear IS BEING ENFORCED.  They’re hard to find in retail outlets, but at least three separate companies make them available on line.  The least expensive, I’ve found, is at All-American Wrestling Supply.

            If it were me, I’d order one for the program and carry it… just like a face mask… in the med-kit.  This way, when you get that tight, old curmudgeon at weigh ins, you have an option for the kid, besides chopping his / her hair with the tape scissors.

            I think you have to physically check your own kids for shaving facial hair.  Outline the requirements of the rule, just like you do for hair length.  Look under chin cups for that hidden goatee.  Get the sideburns level to, or above, the earlobe.

            Non of us can afford to have an athlete’s focus blown up.  Realize that the officials for your late and post season events are usually the best around.  They are not going to risk next year’s assignment to overlook your kid’s little “oopsy”.  Be prepared !


Skin Disorders

            Here’s another thing I believe you have to see, with your own eyes.  Your room is clean.  But… how many potentially contaminated mats have all your kids been on, over the last three weeks.  Information is power.  Take the time to see for yourself.   


Weigh In Procedures

            Depending on where you are, you may or may not have been in some very relaxed events, with no officials present for weigh ins.  Remember, as you approach the post season, things are bound to tighten up.

            Whether you are together, on a bus, or in an urban area where kids travel independently, get everyone into the weigh in area half an hour prior to the scheduled start.  It gives us some personal time… just to see how athletes are doing.  More importantly, it gives you time to check on someone who’s not there.  Knowing everyone is there and “on” is comforting.  Knowing everyone is  safe is vital.

            I hope reading these reminders helps you… just a little.  Reminding myself, while I write, helps me a lot.  Best wishes through the heart of your season !




Oct Coaches Update by Rusty Davidson






Coaches and Leaders,

If I haven’t met you personally, my name is Rusty.  I am the elected representative, from the Southern Plains, to your National Coaches’ Council.  I have a long history as a member of the Council.  

In 2011 the Council was forced to regionalize, in order to mirror the age group councils.  Representing single regions, rather than America’s coaches at large, promoted competition over cooperation.  Fortunately, as we continue to evolve, the Coaches Council is regaining its perspective as a team of advocates for all USAW Coach members.

On October 17th, the Developmental branch of the National Coaches Council met in Colorado Springs.  As part of USAW’s Fall Coaches Seminar, we welcomed our incoming Chair, ZacDominguez.  Zac has been extremely proactive since his election, in Fargo.  Look forward to solid leadership !

As an aside, I must congratulate Coach Education Manager, Mike Clayton, for organizing a fabulous array of clinicians.  The Fall Seminar was attended by 50 of the nation’s finest scholastic and Olympic style coaches.

I was asked by the Council to experiment with offering my monthly Coaches’ Council update to all USAW Coaches and State Leaders.  Over the last three years, the update has targeted the Southern Plains, but has usually trickled out to other regions.  The members of the Council expressed two core beliefs:  That our recommendations and activities gain from transparency; and That it is our duty to unite as a strong voice for all USAW Coach members.

So, you can expect an update, approximately once a month.  The rules of the Olympic styles make sense again, so there probably won’t be any big controversy to report.  Maintaining those goals of advocacy and transparency, I’ll keep you up on issues and trends that help us all serve America’s developing athletes.

Following this update is one of those issues:  Our proactive approach to the impact the Ebola panic could have on wrestling.  Please take a look and offer feedback.

I’m also including a roster of your Developmental, Regional Representatives.  These are the guys you need to have your primary dialogue with.  They will filter and funnel your ideas and needs to the Council, which in turn will be your voice with the various councils and national staff.

In addition to your Regional, Developmental Rep, the National Coaches’ Council currently includes four representatives of the National Coaching Pool, along with a Liaison to the Officials Association, a Womens’ Liaison and a Staff Liaison.

Your Pool Coaches representatives include; Terry Brands; Mike Duroe; Mike Hagerty; and Lou Rosselli.  Stacey Davis is our Officials’ Liaison, Trevor Kiefer our Womens’ liaison and Cody Bickley our Staff Liaison.  

My next update will be late November, early December… as scholastic competition gets underway.  That said, I wish you all the Best November has to offer.  Know that there are a bunch of us that appreciate your efforts.  You change a lot of lives !





New Mexico September News







            I’ve got FIVE topics, intertwined if not related:

  • Sign up for the 190 CHALLENGE
  • BEACH Wrestling October 4th
  • Affordable Secondary Insurance for High School Athletes
  • 1st Annual FALL Coaches and Referees Clinic
  • Opportunity for Upperclassmen to Compete Overseas


190 Challenge

            This is a perfect addition to your Pre-Season curriculum. 

Go to

Look through this inspiring celebration of life, then select 190 High School Challenge.


Beach Wrestling

       This will be our Second Annual pre-season Kick Off in the Sand.  Held at Albuquerque’s SNEAKERZ Grill and Courts on Saturday, October 4th, Beach Wrestling focuses on the most fundamental skills of Position, Motion, Penetration for early season Takedown Success.  There is NO ENTRY FEE.  Sanctioned by USA Wrestling, athletes must present a 2015 USAW membership to take part.


Insurance for our Economically Challenged Kids

       USA Wrestling’s Athlete Membership provides Secondary Insurance (steps up if there is no primary) for wrestlers participating in, or travelling to or from, ANY legitimately organized and supervised wrestling activity.  This includes Practice and ALL events sanctioned by any organization.

            Individual Athletes membership runs about $40.  NEW MEXICO is one of a few selected states that offer HIGH SCHOOL TEAM membership.  You can cover EVERY kid in your High School room for $300.   There’s not a better deal for our kids anywhere !

Contact Loren Vigil


FALL Clinic, October 24th & 25th

“Wrestling is an individual sport, but it’s also a team sport.  No matter how great your individual glory, you have a responsibility to the well-being of the team.”

            Sound familiar ?  Every one of us has pounded our fist and made this clear to a room full of kids… two or three times a year.  My friends, this time-honored wrestling mantra applies to us, too.

            Some of us ‘Old-Timers’ have been campaigning, for decades, to move our High School clinics to the fall… closer to the start of our season.  The traditional, multi-sport clinic held in late July, early August has conflicted with our coaches who devote their summer efforts to the National Championship in Fargo.  Many of our best wrestling coaches also have commitments to football.

            We are fortunate to have forward-thinking leaders in Buster Mabry (NMHSCA), Dana Pappas (NMOA) and Scott Owen (NMAA).  These three have

 put it all on the line to convince their constituent groups that we are worth the risk.

            We have our first Wrestling-Specific NMHSCA and NMOA clinic October 24th and 25th.  Common sense and common decency require that we show up in force.  In so doing, we make it clear that we are a legitimate ‘Team’.  We also insure our own future, in being able to meet at a time of year that most benefits our student-athletes.

            Representing our NMAA Wrestling Committee, I am calling on you, personally.  First off, just BE THERE !  Clear your schedule, check with your football staff (if necessary), drive the miles, make the commitment.

            You’re going to be glad you did.  NMHSCA and NMOA have put together an All-Star menu of clinicians.  The highlight will be your time with USA Wrestling World Team and Missouri Championship Coach and NCAA Finals Official, Mike Hagerty.  You have my personal promise that Coach Hag will rock your world, both on the mat and in conversation !

            Realize, too, all good things have a price.  You’ve got to become a member and pay for the clinic… simply because it’s the right thing to do.  Get online.  Go to and take care of both.  Do this for your assistant coaches… all of them.  Get them to the clinic.

            Benefits, you ask ?  Plenty !  You put your kids, your assistants and yourself in line for recognition that is deserved.  You offer your staff and your family just one more substantial insurance coverage in a world full of lawyers.  Most important, you magnify your personal power through becoming a member of a group who share your beliefs and values.

            Last June, I paid my dues to NMHSCA for the 39th straight year.  Every penny and every minute have been worth it.  My membership has put me in a position to work, side-by side, with you.  There have been times we have needed to protect our sport, times we needed to grow it.  There are times we need a strong voice to brag about our kids and our programs and our peers.  There are times we need help connecting to other states, to find out how they make things work.  NMHSCA membership helps us help ourselves, in all these times.

            NMHSCA has graciously invited ALL High School Wrestling Referees to sit in on all Coaching sessions.  I want to encourage New Mexico referees to seize the moment.  Studying the techniques and rules of our sport, TOGETHER make us the Customer Service Representatives we all should be.




Five Country Tour for New Mexico’s Elite

       2014 University World Team Coaches, Mike Hagerty and myself, (The same Hagerty that’s presenting at our Fall Clinic) have been named to lead a USA All-Star team in June and July of 2015.  As such, I have been granted up to eight slots on the team for New Mexicans.

            This is NOT a tour for beginners !  We will train and compete in: Istanbul, Turkey; Varna, Bulgaria; Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria; and Bucharest Romania.  The tour also includes two days of Training in Paris, France and finishes with the Fourth of July Fireworks Display in New York City.

            Travelling June 18th and July 5th, you’re getting 17 days, four countries, five capitals, World level competition and World Team coaching for less than $4,000.  If you have one of “The Guys”, get him signed up and start the funding process.  My advice is to go with Juniors or Seniors only for this.


That’s it !  Thanx for taking the time to read this.  See you soon.




Rusty's Report - September 2014






Coaches & Leaders,

            I hope you’re getting to watch some of the World Championship from Tashkent.  I especially hope you get to view Jordan Burroughs’ interview, after receiving his Bronze Medal.  “Class Act” is the only way to describe this young man.

            JB has a lot for us to chew on.  It IS the Championship of All Humanity.  Our kids are talented and have a work ethic all Americans envy.  Still, there are talented kids working hard in a lot of other countries.  I find this an opportunity to remind ourselves and our kids that ‘Success’ has multiple definitions.

            I got to witness a lot of American success this summer.  Sorry I missed Fargo.  Sounds like it went well and the Southern Plains got our share.  I was fortunate to be with our University, Cadet and Junior World delegations, all within a month.  Trust me…  the USA has a bright future, both short term and long !

            Your Coaches Council elected new leadership in Fargo.  Zac Dominguez, from Nebraska, is the new Chair of our Developmental group.  Zac is an intelligent and passionate young guy.  You’re gonna’ be happy with his leadership.

            The Council has a conference call coming up September 24th.  If you have anything I need to bring to the group, please let me know.      (505)980-9041

              The Council also plans to meet in Colorado Springs, during the Fall Coaches’ Seminar, October 17-18.  This is a bold move by USAW, putting the Council is position to become an even stronger voice for our Grass-Roots membership.

            In terms of rules, I’m happy to say, “There’s not much to report”.  I was happy that the Southern Plains was well-prepared for our summer camps and competitions.  Not everyone was all that thrilled that I get us information early.  Suffice it to say that I am happy to be able to relay accurate information in timely fashion !  Did I mention, I’m from the Southern Plains ?

            High Schools season will be pretty easy on the rules, too.  The only two changes coming our way are:  A definition of ‘Bad Time’ as it relates to choices in the tiebreaker or ride-out; and Criteria for who advances in the back side, when two athletes cannot continue simultaneously in the front side.  I think I’m gonna’ sleep tonight, not worrying about the frequency of those two situations.

            Internationally, we’ve settled into  a set of rules that bring out our best… and make sense !  If you’re interested, we are no longer FILA.  We are United World Wrestling.  I know everybody’s got their take on that, but I will say this.  I got to spend some personal time, this summer, with President Lalovic.  This man is the Real Deal.  I trust him to lead our sport.  Do with that as you will.

            My friends, I wish you well.  I will get you another update, shortly before we kick off the high school season.





NM Wrestling - USA Meeting

NM Wrestling - USA Meeting

Sat Oct 4th, 2014 @ Sneakerz on San Mateo

9 am - Board Meeting

11 am - General Meeting & Beach Wrestling


2014 - 2015 NMJW Kickoff Meeting

NMJW has chosen to partner with NM Wrestling - USA again.

Thank you for your support!

We look forward to continuing our relationship.






Coaches & Leaders,

            Good news usually travels about half as fast as bad.  Many of you have heard that the “Near Takedown” call is a thing of the past.  The leaders of FILA recently reached the decision and struck down the rule “immediately”.  This was about a ten days ago. 

            I had the opportunity to watch the University World wrestle-offs, this week.  Athletes, coaches and officials all seem happy to have one less thing to fuss over.  I’m sure the same will be true for us, in the Southern Plains, as Kids’ Nationals conclude, the Junior Duals begin and we finish preparation for Fargo.

            The only other rules-related comment I’ll make is about giving up a point on your own gut.  This, too, is being handled quite responsibly in recent events.  The officials leading clinics this summer are teaching the concept well.

            Here’s the deal…   If you stay, or get posted, on your own back during your gut… and it “SCREAMS”… everyone in the room expects you to give up a point.  If you hit your gut, and it’s all yours, cross both shoulders… and it “WHISPERS”… everyone believes you scored.  Coach it that way !

            Other than rules stuff, what’s out there ?  I have not heard any big shakes, crises, or controversies.  Things are good in the Southern Plains.

            So you know… I will NOT be with you in Fargo.  I’ll be in Europe, working wrestling.  Coach Hagerty will make sure the Southern Plains voice is heard in Executive Session.  I encourage all of you to attend the General Meetings of the Coaches Council.

            I’m not sure if there will be an election, or how it will be managed.  In the “for what it’s worth” column, I would really like to SERVE as the Chairman of the Council again.  I was Chair before Reiland, but we had term limits then.

            You know I believe in frequent communication for our region.  I believe we can use the same mentality, Nationally, to strengthen the voice of our second largest membership group… our Coaches.  End campaign speech.

            Have fun !  If you’re at the Junior Duals, get home and get a breath.  Fargo can be a grind, but it’s worth it.

            I’ll be checking in on   I will be at the State Leaders Summit in August.  If you have ideas or issues that need to be addressed, please let me know.





Destiny Bailey - 2016 Women's Freestyle All-American



MAY, 2014





Coaches & Leaders,

            As we approach our Regional Championship, it’s my responsibility to update and prepare, best I can.  I’m about to give it a shot.  First, I will not be with you, this year, in Dodge City.  I have a Coach Education chore, in Madison that has to be taken care of.  It’s a good thing, I promise.

            On the business side of things, the majority of your Coaches Council met, face-to-face, in Vegas.  No big issues.  We were briefed, by staff, on the search process for our National Coaching positions.  Since then, as you are aware, Bruce Burnett has accepted the Freestyle role through Rio.  The Greco position should be announced soon.

            Mike Clayton has assumed the position of Coach Education Manager.  Mike is a quality human and deeply driven.  He’s one of the ‘Good Guys’.  He steps into the Big Shoes of a Slender Guy.  Our own region’s Cody Bickley has graduated to a more significant role in our National Teams program.  Cody grew the credibility of our Coach Education process over his few years.  Thanx, Cody !

            The National Council is currently struggling to organize another face-to-face meeting, perhaps during the Fall Coach Seminar, in Colorado Springs.  Representing the ideas and needs of EVERY USAW Coach is the goal of all these men.  We will continue to work hard at making your voice heard !

            Now, to the Regional, itself.  Structurally, there’s nothing to worry about.  You know that Juby and the Kansas connection run a class act.  Your officiating will be solid, if maybe a little thin.  The Southern Plains is honored to have officials selected to do the  World Team Trials.  Mark Anderson (KS), Jason Babi (CO), Danny Blackshear (OK), Bill Harper (MO) are making us all look good.  Congrats.  So, you’ll have good people, just not a lot of ‘em.  They’ll get tired.  Go easy !

            Headgear is REQUIRED for everybody, SCHOOLBOY / GIRL and BELOW.  Be prepared.  Periods for SCHOOLBOYS / GIRLS and BELOW are TWO MINUTES.  CADETS  and JUNIORS wrestle THREE MINUTE periods.  Technical Superiority is TEN POINTS for EVERYBODY… BOTH STYLES.

            We have not heard ANY other modifications.  Two things are on my radar, regarding adequate preparation.  One is our renewed application of PASSIVITY calls.  The other is the “Mystery” Point for not quite finishing a takedown.  Please PREPARE, but DO NOT WORRY.  Big difference.

            You should not anticipate a whole lot of Passivity Calls.  Generally speaking, we don’t see much passivity in younger age groups.  You’ll see a few… RELAX !  A call is not an assault on your expertise or the athlete’s heritage !  It’s just a call.  Practice, in the room, so your kids Hear the call and React responsibly.  Don’t let the call be the big deal.  Scoring always solves the problem.

            The “Mystery” Point is exactly that.  None of us are sure what the future of the call is.  Most youngsters finish, so you won’t see many calls.  When you do see it, either go with it, or overcome it.  We need our officials to at least experiment with it, so we have data to work from.

            There is an extended Officials’ Education Program in Dodge City, the day before the event.  You can be sure that these officials are working A LOT on timing passivity calls, assessing that one point, and diagnosing the difference between offense and defense, on a gut.

            Enjoy the Southern Plains !  Celebrate all the good things we have in our Region.  Take just a minute to congratulate yourself for the work you do.  Have Fun !




Team NM @ Kids Nationals

New Mexico Athletes at USAW Kids National's:

George Valenzuela

Casey DeLayne - ALL American x 2 (Greco & Freestyle)

Adan Benavidez

Jude Postlehwait

Daniel Montano - ALL American x 2 (Greco & Freestyle)

Caleb Martinez


Kids Nationals NM Team

Cadet/Junior Nationals in Fargo ND - $600 total - balance due ASAP.  This is NOT an open tournament.  You can ONLY attend as part of Team New Mexico and you can NOT register on your own.

Athletes who will attend Cadet/Junior Nationals:

Joseph Otero

Isaac Lopez

Samuel Gurule

Isaac Garcia (Little Isaac)

Ryan Rochford

Zak Vigil

Mario Carrasco Jr.

Andres Villa

Destiny Bailey



Nathaniel Augustson

Tyler Hartom

NM Director:

Loren Vigil


Sonya Vigil






NM High School and Youth Coaches and Leaders,

​Below, please find my most recent update for the Coaches of USAW’s Southern Plains.  I’m not sure who’s interested in the scheduling of the Pan American SchoolBoys / SchoolGirlsevent, or in the Fargo schedule.  It’s there, if you want it.

​I do hope you can make some small use of the sections of prevention and working referees.  With it, please accept my Best wishes for you and your athletes, as we continue our journey toward the State Championship.  RD


Coaches and Leaders,

​It’s Showtime in the scholastic season !  Everyone, from kids club through high school to university, is into the money month of our competitive season.  Everything we do in January has a huge impact on our February and March outcomes.  

Maybe, the most important thing I offer in this update is to say a heartfelt THANK YOU.  The things you do for kids make a difference.  There are a lot of things kind of messed up, in the world today.  Wrestling’s not one of them.

​I hope you got the very most of the Holiday Season.  I appreciate how important all our families are, with the intensity of our chosen lifestyle.  Remember how lucky you are to have them !

​Business-wise, I have only a few items:  Some helpful reminders about “Little Things”; Notes on our most recent conference-call meeting; and a little philosophy on “Working” referees effectively.

​With the significance of January events, none of us can afford to give up Ticky-Tack points.  Knowing that we, as coaches, get caught up in “Bigger” worries, let me offer some reminders, hoping to save you some grief.  Much of this is pointed at High School competition, but I think we can all use it.

​If you haven’t already, ask your kids, “Who got new shoes for Christmas ?”  Take a minute to remind everyone about the rules related to SECURING OUR LACES.  There’s an emphasis on laces, this season.  Better safe than sorry.

​With the social life of the holidays and maturity, many high school athletes change their hair styles and facial hair, this time of year.  Taking a minute to remind the whole room about these rules, and the reasons for them, can prevent a blow up at weigh ins or on the mat.  

​Skin checks are as critical as Grade checks, as we near the climax of the season.  Make sure one of your coaches is assigned to this task, DAILY.  

​This one is not rule, but still can prevent you some grief with excessive bleeding.  Living where we do, many of our kids (especially in rural areas) live in wood-burning homes.  Even with central heat, we still lose a lot of humidity in the depth of winter.  Watch during practice.  See if your group is bleeding more than they were, early in the season.  Suggest to kids and parents that your athletes use a dab of plain old Vasoline, on the end of a pinky finger, to lubricate those capillaries in their nasal cavity, morning and bedtime.  It works !




​During our December Coaches Council Call, we reviewed and continued much of our November discussion.  Of note, we learned that the Pan American SchoolBoys / Girls event will be held in AUGUST, rather than October, as previously reported.  There is no perfect time for age group events.  Still, the August 17 – 19 date is much better for American kids than October ! The Pan Ams will be hosted in Santiago, Chile.

​As I mentioned in my November update, the Council had some pretty heated discussion regarding Fargo 2017.  Our Region Director, Mike Juby, asked me to clarify…  That schedule IS locked in.  No further negotiation is needed or appropriate.  That being said, I still need you to know that the National Coaches Council is interested and maintaining a “Lively” discussion about Fargo, both short term and long term.

​We will continue to keep an ear to the ground and advocate for constant definition of Best Practice in event planning and promotion and their service to our athletes.  Your thoughtful input is always welcomed and appreciated.


​Speaking of “Input being Appreciated”, haven’t you noticed that those of us with experience in the Freestyle / Greco Roman world have just a little better success communicating with referees, during the scholastic season ?  I’m sure there are a lot of variables that play into this.  We certainly need to capitalize on it !

​It could be as simple as the fact that we just see more wrestling than our folkstyle-only peers.  Perhaps we’re used to a tad higher level of intensity, with more chips on the table.  For kids, though, there’s no such thing as an insignificant match.  They always have chips on the table.

​I hope our advantage is the way we coach and prepare.  I hope our experience in the Olympic styles helps us instill a more honest swagger in our kids.  I hope we carry ourselves in a way that encourages the confidence to overcome and discourages the tendency to panic.

​I believe most of us start and end our communication with referees with the goal of making the entire experience better for everybody in it.  Experience tells us we’re never getting a bad call back, but we do have some minor influence over the rest of the match and event.

​If what I just said feels natural to you… Congratulations ! You’re offering one more tiny intangible to your kids’ success.  If it’s foreign to you… don’t hate me for calling you out !  Just remember that, when we recruited the kid, we promised Mom and Dad that we would teach them to cope with adversity.  All of us can keep growing better at Walking our Talk.


Happy New Year !  I hope 2017 is a Great one for you, your family and the Athletes you serve.  





March 2017 News/Update

MARCH, 2017





Coaches and Leaders,

            Congratulations on your achievements through the High School and Kids seasons.  I appreciate what you do for kids !

            As we celebrate the close of our Collegiate season, we have a great couple of weeks ahead.  The D1 show promises to be memorable.  But, let’s not overlook our D2, D3, NAIA, JC, and College Club Teams.  Wrestlers, at every level, pay the same dues… we do what we can.  Appreciate these guys !

            Appreciate our “Girl-Guys”, too !  Womens’ Wrestling continues to make a difference in our sport.  March is labeled National Womens’ History Month.  In wrestling, we have a lot to celebrate… and to say ‘Thank You’ for.

            From a ‘Business’ perspective, I don’t have a lot to report.  That, in and of itself, is worth celebrating !  Not too long ago, we were drowning in constant rule changes and controversy.  Attached, alongside this note, is a ONE PAGE summary of our domestic adaptations to the international rules.  Simple… concise… meaningful.  Celebrate !

            As we head to St Louis, I want to stick with that theme:  Celebrate !  I’m encouraging you to really Talk Your Kids Up !  We seeing their future.  They get to live it !

            Remind yourself that we are witnessing TWO Olympic Medalists returning to their college rooms and putting their ass on the line.  Then, you want to add the Retherfords, the Nickals, the Valencias… and countless others that are combining international and college success.

            Help your kids process the future of wrestling, and their own.  It’s a pretty glorious generation to be a wrestler ! 


            In other news… What we traditionally call ‘The National Open’, April in Vegas, has, pretty much, something for everyone !  Take a look at the Event, on the website.  There’s a good chance you have reason to be there.

            If you’ve got any athletes interested in BEACH WRESTLING, the Pan American Championship has recently been announced.  It will be May 8th, the day after the Pan Am Championship for the Olympic Styles.  It’s in San Jose, Brazil.  The arrival airport is Florianopolis.  If you know someone interested, please have them contact me.  I can help them beat the cost of a Brazilian visa.

            The National Championship and World Team Trials, for Beach Wrestling, are in Carolina Beach, NC, May 20-21.  This offers athletes, from Cadet Age up, a chance to compete in some pretty cool World events.

            I hope I get to see you, in St Louis, or Vegas, or Dodge City.  Isn’t that another part of the celebrating we get to do in wrestling ?  We get to see each other a lot… and we’re always around great kids.                                                                                    Ciao, Rusty

JULY 10, 2016





Coaches and Leaders,

            IIiiittttsss TIME !!!  As we make our annual pilgrimage to Fargo, I want to help you sort through all the plans for the week.  First, I have to say what a PLEASURE it is to NOT have to try to help you guess at RULES !

            This will be our fourth Fargo, since our Olympic ‘Crisis’.  In the decade prior to that, we seemed to spend all our time sorting through ridiculous attempts at ‘New’ rules.  As we collectively got back to our roots, rules became simple again… tools to offer equity in competition.

            So… we know what to expect from point-scoring opportunities.  The only abstract process still out there is the definition, diagnosis and application of Passivity.

            “Active”  is a beauty, truly in the eye of the beholder.  After all the painstaking hours we spend with each kid, we know in our own hearts, “He would never be passive”.  This poor, dumb referee simply doesn’t recognize or appreciate our efforts !

            That’s what we know in our hearts.  However, our coaching role demands that we address what we know in our minds.  One athlete’s Underhook is a set up to attack.  Another’s is pure defense.  When we match up with any other athlete, appearances CAN be deceiving.

            Here’s what I’m suggesting to elite athletes… and I believe it’ll work for yours: 

Finish the Polish-Up portion of your camp, asking each kid to identify their “Bread and Butter”… their “Go To” offense.  Now, create the scenario where the referee sees it as passive.  What element(s) can we change, instantly, to reshape the ref’s opinion ?

            Knowing that Passivity IS part of the game, and that it usually has a rather minor impact on outcome, our successful athletes can, and will, tweak their favorite offense to keep the ref on their side !  Give it a try and let me know what you think.



            Unfortunately, we will all be pounded with meetings after we are already exhausted from competition.  Get with your State Leaders and Staff.  Figure out who’s going where.  Your input is vital to decisions that will affect us all.

            Obviously, your National Coaches Council needs your voice.  We meet twice, once during GR and later, during FS.  I’m not sure how detailed any proposals will be, next week.  But, I DO think you’ll be introduced to some new ideas you’re really going to want an opinion on.  The biggest is the beginning of a proposal for the re-structuring of “Fargo” itself.  A subcommittee of great thinkers from all over the nation, many from the Southern Plains, have worked tirelessly for several months to present data and ideas for our future.  Tune in !


Here is an edited pull-out of the meetings in Fargo:


Women's Age Group Committee National Meeting
(FargoDome – Team Room)
1:00 PM to 2:30 PM 


MONDAY, JULY 18                                                        For Last Minutes Updates or Ad Hoc

Coaches Burger Bash                                        Southern Plains Specific Gatherings,
(FargoDome – North Concourse)                   Please contact Mike Juby, Regional Director.
4:30 PM to 6:00 PM

Get your plate and go to…


National Coaches Council Meeting 
(FargoDome – Team Room)
5:00 PM to 6:00 PM


TUESDAY, JULY 19                                                       If you need to find me, I will be at the

National Council Kids/Cadet Directors                     Medical Table, during WEIGH INS
(FargoDome – Team Room)                                     Every Morning.
8:30 PM to 10:00 PM



State Chairperson/President Meeting 
(FargoDome – Team Room)
1:30 PM to 2:30 PM


National Council of Junior Directors                       Have a great finish to your camps. 
(FargoDome – Team Room)                                  Travel Safely.  See You in Fargo !
7:30 PM to 9:00 PM

State/Team Leaders/Coaches Social                       Ciao,  Rusty 
(FargoDome – Room 183)
7:30 PM to 9:00 PM


National Coaches Council Meeting
(FargoDome – Team Room)
7:30 PM to 9:00 PM



State Chairperson's Breakfast and Meeting
(FargoDome – Room 181)
7:30 AM to 8:30 AM 


National UWW Junior/University Council Meeting
(FargoDome – Room 102)
1:00 PM to 2:00 PM


JULY 10, 2016





Coaches and Leaders,

            IIiiittttsss TIME !!!  As we make our annual pilgrimage to Fargo, I want to help you sort through all the plans for the week.  First, I have to say what a PLEASURE it is to NOT have to try to help you guess at RULES !

            This will be our fourth Fargo, since our Olympic ‘Crisis’.  In the decade prior to that, we seemed to spend all our time sorting through ridiculous attempts at ‘New’ rules.  As we collectively got back to our roots, rules became simple again… tools to offer equity in competition.

            So… we know what to expect from point-scoring opportunities.  The only abstract process still out there is the definition, diagnosis and application of Passivity.

            “Active”  is a beauty, truly in the eye of the beholder.  After all the painstaking hours we spend with each kid, we know in our own hearts, “He would never be passive”.  This poor, dumb referee simply doesn’t recognize or appreciate our efforts !

            That’s what we know in our hearts.  However, our coaching role demands that we address what we know in our minds.  One athlete’s Underhook is a set up to attack.  Another’s is pure defense.  When we match up with any other athlete, appearances CAN be deceiving.

            Here’s what I’m suggesting to elite athletes… and I believe it’ll work for yours: 

Finish the Polish-Up portion of your camp, asking each kid to identify their “Bread and Butter”… their “Go To” offense.  Now, create the scenario where the referee sees it as passive.  What element(s) can we change, instantly, to reshape the ref’s opinion ?

            Knowing that Passivity IS part of the game, and that it usually has a rather minor impact on outcome, our successful athletes can, and will, tweak their favorite offense to keep the ref on their side !  Give it a try and let me know what you think.



            Unfortunately, we will all be pounded with meetings after we are already exhausted from competition.  Get with your State Leaders and Staff.  Figure out who’s going where.  Your input is vital to decisions that will affect us all.

            Obviously, your National Coaches Council needs your voice.  We meet twice, once during GR and later, during FS.  I’m not sure how detailed any proposals will be, next week.  But, I DO think you’ll be introduced to some new ideas you’re really going to want an opinion on.  The biggest is the beginning of a proposal for the re-structuring of “Fargo” itself.  A subcommittee of great thinkers from all over the nation, many from the Southern Plains, have worked tirelessly for several months to present data and ideas for our future.  Tune in !


Here is an edited pull-out of the meetings in Fargo:


Women's Age Group Committee National Meeting
(FargoDome – Team Room)
1:00 PM to 2:30 PM 


MONDAY, JULY 18                                                        For Last Minutes Updates or Ad Hoc

Coaches Burger Bash                                        Southern Plains Specific Gatherings,
(FargoDome – North Concourse)                   Please contact Mike Juby, Regional Director.
4:30 PM to 6:00 PM

Get your plate and go to…


National Coaches Council Meeting 
(FargoDome – Team Room)
5:00 PM to 6:00 PM


TUESDAY, JULY 19                                                       If you need to find me, I will be at the

National Council Kids/Cadet Directors                     Medical Table, during WEIGH INS
(FargoDome – Team Room)                                     Every Morning.
8:30 PM to 10:00 PM



State Chairperson/President Meeting 
(FargoDome – Team Room)
1:30 PM to 2:30 PM


National Council of Junior Directors                       Have a great finish to your camps. 
(FargoDome – Team Room)                                  Travel Safely.  See You in Fargo !
7:30 PM to 9:00 PM

State/Team Leaders/Coaches Social                       Ciao,  Rusty 
(FargoDome – Room 183)
7:30 PM to 9:00 PM


National Coaches Council Meeting
(FargoDome – Team Room)
7:30 PM to 9:00 PM



State Chairperson's Breakfast and Meeting
(FargoDome – Room 181)
7:30 AM to 8:30 AM 


National UWW Junior/University Council Meeting
(FargoDome – Room 102)
1:00 PM to 2:00 PM


November USA Update from Rusty

NOVEMBER 17, 2015





Coaches, Referees and Leaders,

            I hope you are as excited as I am to start the 2015-16 Scholastic Season.  Whether your primary interest is at the Kids, High School or Collegiate level, it looks to be a truly great season.  And, of course, our Female Collegiate competitors wrestle freestyle, which helps us all keep up with the subtleties of the International Styles.

            I want to start with some ‘Brags’… Southern Plains and non-Southern Plains, then finish with a little information.  The Southern plains generally has much to Brag about.  This Fall is no exception.

            I recently attended an All Southern Plains Fall Clinic in my home state of New Mexico.  Coach Matt Surber, from Southern Plains powerhouse Tuttle (OK) High, and Gary Mayabb from another SP stronghold, Staley (MO) High, were the guest clinicians.

            I can’t decide which to Brag on first, or most, the clinicians or the audience.  Setting my New Mexican blood aside, I’ll tell you about the clinicians. 

Coach Surber focused on Practical Application of Technique and Tactic in the High School room.   His stuff was detailed, spot on, and usable the next practice.  He made a big deal (appropriately) about the influence we all have on developing lives.  The success Tuttle High is having cannot be that big a secret or surprise !

Coach Mayabb was magic, as always !  While Gary’s primary target was Officials, his experience and success in BOTH Officiating and Coaching really drove home the point that both Coach and Ref are constantly in the role of Customer Service Representative !

What tickled me, the most, about the clinic was that representatives from the host hotel found it necessary to come in and tell the Coaches and Referees they needed to shut down, so staff could prepare the room for another party.

How much does that define our sport, in terms of our thirst for ongoing education ?  New Mexico, like some other Sothern Plains states, is a large land area with a small population.  It’s that sharing of information, of technique, of tactic, or mechanics and rule application, that keeps our region at the forefront of the National scene. 

Bragging, outside our region, I was fortunate to attend the GRAPPLE on the GRIDIRON event, last weekend.  WOW !!!  Can any of us believe that, in two short years, we’ve brought Wrestling from near Olympic extinction to this spectacular type of presentation ?

Certainly, the entire Iowa Hawkeye Program, top to bottom, deserves our Thanks for taking the initiative to break new ground.  Coach Smith’s Cowboys stepped up to the challenge, and represented the Southern Plains with dignity, from start to finish.  How exciting it must be to be a kid growing up in Southern Plains Wrestling !!

Now, information.  You’ve had a chance to see the NCAA application of Stalling, as it applies to going out of bounds.  This makes it easy to justify the skills and tactics our athletes gain during the spring and summer.  Almost guaranteed, this rule will trickle down.  With ‘Tilt-Wrestling’ as popular as it is, we should also look for the Two Point – Four Point near fall to trickle down.  The delayed start, on the ground, seems like it’ll find it’s way into the High School rule book, as well.

But, for right now, High School rules are largely unchanged.  The big emphasis is on Contagious Skin Disorders.  It is not my place to ‘Advertise’, but knowing we have some tough conversations coming our way, let me recommend Dr BJ Anderson’s app, “TheMatDoc”.  Dr BJ is a Doctor you’ll recognize, if you’ve been in Fargo.  He has put together the Best collection of information you could possibly use.  In any tough discussion of Skin Disorders… Whether you are a  Coach, Doctor, Trainer, Parent, Referee, information is power !  The app costs five bucks, and is damn well worth it.

Best wishes to all of you, through the Scholastic season.  This is one of those years when Olympic Trials Qualifiers invade the Winter.  I’ll keep you posted.





2016 NM Dream Team & NWCA Results


I hope this email finds you well. After tallying the votes we have come to the NM Dream Team and the Wrestler of the Year. Additionally, we have two NWCA Awards which will be listed at the end. Please feel free to FWD this to your media outlets and get the information out there. Remember, the Dream Team is the individual the coaches voted as best at every weight class in their opinion. All votes were received and tallied using an excel spreadsheet and the vote was tallied twice. There were some close votes which I think shows that overall the level of competition is increasing and we are seeing multiple kids that are very good. 
106- Joseph Otero- FR Cleveland 
113- Tyler Deen- FR Rio Rancho
120- Matthew Hernandez- SR Deming
126- Jose Tapia- JR Capital
132-Dylan Udero- SR Las Cruces High School
138- Wes Rayburn- JR Piedra Vista 
145- Ryan Rochford- JR Rio Rancho
152- Clay Arellano- SR Rio Grande
160-Richard Govea- JR Volcano Vista
170-Kyle Snelling- SR La Cueva
182- Nathaniel Martinez- SR Belen 
195-Xavier Vigil- JR St. Michael's 
220- Mark Hussey- SR Rio Grande
285- Isaac Lewis-SR Valencia 
Sr. Wrestler of the Year- Kyle Snelling 170lbs La Cueva 
NWCA Portion
NWCA Asst Coach of the Year- Mark Pratt Hobbs 
NWCA Co-Coaches of the Year (vote ended in tie) Lee Chaves Belen and Corey Anderson Cleveland
Corey Anderson
Cleveland High School
Head Wrestling Coach 
Econ/Gov Teacher

January Update from Rusty

JANUARY 31, 2016





Coaches, Referees and Leaders,

​As February begins, I have three things on my mind.  I’ll offer a summary of what I’ve seen and heard through the Scholastic season.  I’ll discuss the beginning of our transition to the spring and summer season and the Olympic styles.  I’ll ask for your input, as your National Coaches Council makes preparation to represent your interests throughout that transition.

​Let’s do that first.  The National Council has a conference call scheduled in early February.  I’m sure we will trouble-shoot the spring and summer schedule for the developmental age groups.  I’m sure we’ll review procedures leading up to our Olympic Team selection, in early April.  I don’t see much discussion about on-the-mat rules coming up. 

​If there’s something on your mind, please email or call me.  In every Olympic year, things get going really fast.  It seems like the focus is only about getting our Olympians on the podium.  That’s not entirely true, though.  All of us have to keep in mind the needs of our potential Olympians in 2020, 2024, and beyond.  You represent those kids, and I represent you.  Please let me know what you need.

​Regarding the climax of our scholastic season, I mentioned in November, no big rule shakes.  We had only some strengthening of existing rules.  While stability is always a good thing, I gotta’ tell you… I’m seeing some things that bother me and scare me a little.

​There’s not any one BIG thing.  It’s a bunch of little things, that I would never want to see turn into a big thing.  It’s coaches and athletes sneaking around weight management protocols.  It grownups ignoring the “Proper Grooming” rules in place.  It’s male and female athletes showing up, on the mat, with long hair and improper covers.  It’s coaches sitting in the corner with a chew in their mouth.  It’s more frequent displays of misconduct, unsportsmanlike behavior and flagrant misconduct.

​Up front, if this is just me, say so.  But, watching all the crap that’s going on… in professional sports and society in general… I need to remind myself, and offer the idea to next generations, that WE CHOSE TO LIVE DIFFERENTLY.   We chose to honor a code that not everyone can.  We chose to call ourselves Wrestlers, and accept all that implied.

​Going into February, it’s that time of year that every High School and Youth coach craves.  We get to talk about a “Higher Standard”.  We get to brag about young men and women “Challenging Themselves”.  This is the time of year many of us gather our troops around the big-screen, and have them watch “Vision Quest”.

​I’m just sayin’ that, with all society’s experiencing, and us just gearing up for our first Olympic Games after the ‘Scare’, maybe we should have our kids watching “The Last Samurai” instead.  Are we not the last Samurai of American culture ?  Do we not choose to live by a system of honor the others can’t put their finger on, but know they need ?

​Coach, you and I don’t agree with every law on the books.  We don’t agree that all of Wrestling’s rules fit the ‘Modern’ athlete.  But, we do know that rules are designed for the ‘Greater Good’.  We know there are appropriate avenues to change and update rules.  Just telling a high school kid to, “Wear a chin-cup to cover up a full goatee”, or ,”Make sure you don’t take your head gear off, at the end of the match, so the referee doesn’t see your two ear-posts”, doesn’t honor the promise we made, to the kid and his/her parents, when we recruited them.

​It’s wrong for us to ignore behaviors and habits, in the practice room, then make some referee be “The Bad Guy” when they notice.  It’s right for us to check skin, remind athletes about shaving, suggest either haircut or hair cover.  It’s critical that adolescent athletes understand, completely, that it’s our job to advocate for them, but not to make excuses for them.

​As we enter this Championship month, I’m asking you, the Coaches of the Southern Plains, to take that extra step.  Find time to remind and refresh you’re your kids about the lifestyle, as much as the technique.  Make sure they remember the part about us being the “Samurai” of our culture.  Remind them we all made the choice to live by a stronger set  of values.  Dare them to focus on winning “The Right Way”.  Thanx !

​Regarding the upcoming transition to our Spring and Summer season, I don’t have to remind you it’s an Olympic Year !  As USA Wrestling’s second largest constituent group, we as Developmental Coaches hold up the base of the pyramid while our eighteen best compete for medals in Rio.

​Every Olympic Year stresses our mechanisms to their limits.  We have to providefor our kids, best way possible, within that stress.  Scheduling of some events getsbumped, to accommodate our Qualifiers and Trials.  Some of the clinicians and guest appearances we get used to give way to training camps.  Some budget items suffer strain.

​Chances are good that you won’t notice any hardship.  Still, information is power.  Please make it your business to relay pertinent information to your athletes and their parents.  It helps them understand they are part of the big picture, being members of Wrestling’s National Governing Body.  It also helps them develop a little more personal attachment to our Olympic efforts.

​That’s it.  Thanx for reading.  I sincerely wish you the best, through your Championship series.  I look forward to seeing you soon.  Remember, you are welcome contact me, if I can help you in any way.





Rusty's Spring Update

March 20, 2016




Coaches, Referees and Leaders,

          On this highly symbolic FIRST DAY of SPRING, I hope we all appreciate what the Winter of 2015-16 gave us through our sport.  I hope we enter the Spring that carries us to the XXXIst Summer Games with the excitement and commitment it deserves.

          I’m on my way home from the D1’s, at Madison Square Garden.  The venue was everything you expect from the name.  The competition… Oh, the Competition… was one for the ages.  What a spectacular finals we got to watch !

          One of the other exceptional things I got to watch, during the D1’s, was an extraordinary group of people we call Volunteers.  I got to talking with Dave Gannaway.  Dave is the guy the NCAA brings in to help facilitate all floor activities.  Coming from a wrestling background, Dave made his way into one of the top administrative positions of the Illinois High School Association.

          I asked Dave, who’s been around other sports, “Do any of them use anything close to wrestling’s volunteer base ?”  He looked at me like I was from another galaxy.  “Other sports don’t even know what volunteer means !” was his response.  That’s kinda’ what I thought.

          Under the leadership of USAW veteran Bill Crum, the New York / New Jersey / SE Pennsylvania connection fielded a strong corps of volunteers.  With a few sprinkled in, from around the country, every bas was covered.  Congrats to all !

          As we rather quickly turn our attention from scholastic superstars to preparation for Rio, Fargo, and other noteworthy events, those volunteers will continue to play key roles.  (You have to cringe… that I got Rio and Fargo in the same sentence !  Culture   Shock ??)

          Here’s what’s on my mind.  Technology is our friend.  It is helping us keep wrestling on the front burner, nationally and globally.  Volunteerism, in many parts of American life, is kind of like Record Albums… cute, nostalgic, but not necessary.

          As in all things, wrestling is different.  Our history is the glue that hold our future together.  Live streaming, text updates, and paperless tournaments are all good for modern wrestling.  But, having that person fix the pairings, when the network goes down…  having that person shout, “Three, two, one, time !” when the scoreboard is not visible… having that person who can find a mop, and operate it, when there’s ‘Stuff’ on the mat… define wrestling, as much as the fabulous athletes those volunteers all came to support.

          So, here’s the deal.  Starting with your first local event, graduating through your State, your Region, the Duals, Fargo… all of them, take a minute to appreciate your volunteers.  We don’t ever want to be a sport without them.  Volunteers are so much like wrestlers, coaches, referees.  When you ask them why they do this, they just shrug.  When pressed, they’re likely to tell you, “I can’t really explain why I do this.  I just know I have to !”

          Best wishes to those competing in the National Folkstyle Championship in Cedar Falls.  Get ready for Iowa City, where the best of the best will emerge as Olympians.  Have a great spring.




NMAA Out-of-Season Coaching Change

This applies to ALL High School Coaches (Paid or Volunteer)

This is not good (in my opinion) and everyone needs to let NMAA know their opinions on the topic, in writing and quickly, so our few coaches do not get MORE restrictions placed on them.


Wrestling Coaches,

Just a reminder and an update about our out-of-season coaching policies.  There is a link on the main wrestling page outlining the policy as it relates to wrestling.

You will notice an update regarding running joint or open practices during the off-season.  The membership recently approved a clarification that prohibits running joint or open practices at any time during the school year.  See our bylaws, Section 7.4.1, Question #26:

Individuals not associated with the school’s coaching staff can run “open” practices but members of the school’s coaching staff are precluded from running joint practices consisting of your athletes and athletes from other teams.

If you have any questions on the policy please contact me

Thank you.

Scott Owen, CAA

Assistant Director for Sports

New Mexico Activities Association

6600 Palomas NE

Albuquerque, NM 87109

505-923-3273 (o)

505-977-5381 (c) 

505-923-3114 (f) 

Subject: Virginia Tech Camp Update

Coaches I am pleased to announce we have an addition to the Virginia Tech Camp

Derek St. John will now be in attendance and running a portion of the camp. He comes to Virginia Tech after one season as an assistant coach at North Dakota State.

St. John, the 2013 NCAA champion at 157 pounds, became the 18th four-time All-American in Iowa history in 2014. He placed fourth at the NCAA Championships as a freshman, second as a sophomore, first as a junior and fifth as a senior, claiming his spot as one of the most decorated Hawkeye wrestlers in history.

The Parnell, Iowa, native concluded his collegiate career with a record of 106-17. St. John was the 2012 Big Ten champion and a two-time Big Ten runner-up at 157 pounds. He posted a record of 31-2 in his national championship campaign of 2012-13, earning Iowa’s Mike Howard Most Valuable Wrestler Award.

St. John was a redshirt on the Iowa team that won the NCAA team title in 2010. He graduated from Iowa in May 2014 with a degree in business studies. Major.

All of this for only $75 per kid including meals all they need to bring is a bed roll and change of clothes all meals and accommodations will be provided.

I must hear from you space is limited and we are about 50% sold out.

We have a commitment this can become an annual event if we can make this a success this opening year. We have gathered a group of wrestlers and team member's from the NCAA Division 1 #4 Team in 2015/2016. 

 Thanks Lucas Luna

 Belen Wrestling


APRIL 18, 2016





Coaches, Referees and Leaders,

            Well, here we are.  We have an Olympic Team and we are all into our local tournament seasons.

            As our country’s Developmental Coaches, our task is to capitalize on the success the sport’s greatest heroes are having, so that we can shape a few for the next generation and beyond.  The great news is that our sport is healthy and vibrant. 

            Just a few years ago, we were watching our sport made ugly by a baffling set of rules.  We often overlooked what the nation’s, and world’s greatest could do, focusing on which rule just kept ‘em from doing it.

            There’s a lot to digest about our Olympic Trials.  There are a few things that make us say, “Huh?”, but, there are definitely a lot that makes us all say, “Wow”.  Maybe, the classic is Pico’s comeback against Ness.  Be sure to explain that one to your kids !   “Down by eight…  No Problem… All you gotta’ do is Flee the Mat, Deny the Challenge, then Score Twenty Unanswered.”

            I’m actually a little bit serious about that.  We CAN incorporate situations to promote the kind of awareness Pico demonstrated.  We have a tendency to treat all penalties and fouls as Bad Things.  Pico has the presence to know he was about to get turned and terminated.  The Flee gave him life.

            Our rules are good for wrestling now.  For all athletes, staying in is Good, going out is Bad.  For those that will represent us this summer, whether it’s in Fargo or Rio, there’s a time when going out is far superior to getting Tossed or Teched.

            Then, there’s the question of Fleeing The Hold, near the end of the match.  Tough question !  We base our entire lifestyle on Honor.  That said, I don’t think we’re gonna’ see an athlete, in 2016, stay right in there, with a few seconds to go, up by one.

            The two glaring examples were Garrett v Ramos and Cox v Dake.  My view is MY view, but the proper protocol and application was consistent, in both matches and throughout the tournament.  That protocol demands that the referee stop the match, at an appropriate time, to make clear that Fleeing is being considered.  Simply put, Garrett ran too early and Cox ran too late.

            In guiding our Developmental Athletes, I suggest this.  Know that the match is won, or lost, over the course of six minutes.  Score early, score often.  Understand the language.  A referee saying, “Action”, is setting up a Passivity Call.  The same referee shouting, “Contact”, is looking for a Flee.  Be aware of the chips you have on the table.  Don’t be ambushed by a call you didn’t anticipate.  Recognize that everyone involved has some sense of “Fair Play” and is operating accordingly.

            Like you, I was at a Local Tournament last weekend.  I hope you, as a Coach, are helping out with the Refereeing duties… every chance you get.  Guaranteed, this will help you gain perspective and speed your career growth ! 

            You are well aware that our Age Group Kids adhere to a different set of rules than our Seniors.  Yes, we’ll see where that goes.  The thinking is that, our younger athletes (primarily Greco) won’t be as dependant on Forced Par Terre to be able to score.  At the local level, that’s true !

            Most of us, working local events, don’t look for Passivity, much less Fleeing.  There’s plenty of scoring.  Good !  Pay attention !  We’ll see, in the year after Rio, how a new generation of Senior Greco Athletes score from their feet.  Decisions will get made.  Not our job.



       One of the biggest things just announced is that UWW will begin sanctioning a SCHOOLBOY, SCHOOLGIRL CONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP, this year !  It was also announced that UWW will now accept TWO entries, per weight, per style in ALL SCHOOLBOY, SCHOOLGIRL and CADET Continental Championships.  This should put a lot of SOUTHERN PLAINS kids on the mat !



       USAW has revived its National Folkstyle Committee.  This committee had a dry run, just a few years ago.  The new effort is geared toward the National Governing Body taking an active, responsible role in promoting America’s Folkstyle of Wrestling.  The National Coaches Council has graced me with the challenge to represent us on that committee.  The Southern Plains deserves a strong voice in Folkstyle Wrestling.  I’m anxious to hear you ideas.



            The World Championship for Beach Wrestling is in Fazana Croatia, June 4-5.  There are Men’s and Women’s divisions at THREE age groups, CADET, JUNIOR, SENIOR.  We can enter THREE athletes per weight.  That means up to 57 Americans can attend this event.  It is SELF-FUNDED.  If you are interested, please contact GARY ABBOTT at USAW.

            USAW’s Beach Wrestling National Championship is two weeks before the World Championship.  Carolina Beach, NC will host the Nationals, May 21st.  It’s a great event in a great location.  Use it to get your kids active rest, in getting ready for our Southern Plains Championship.



       The Southern Plains did MORE than our share of damage in the Olympic Trials !  Congrats, and Thanx, to those of you so important in the athletes’ lives !

CIAO, rd

MAY 8, 2016





Coaches, Referees and Leaders,

​Happy Mothers’ Day !  It makes me proud to note that Mothers’ Day is one of those things Wrestlers GET RIGHT.  Our lifestyle honors and appreciates Moms the way they should be honored and appreciated.

​Like you, I was at a Local Tournament yesterday.  Like you, I watched some pretty good High School athletes test themselves against some pretty good peers.  Like you, I enjoyed watching a bunch of five, six, and seven year olds remind us the purity of wrestling competition.  Like you, I heard some grown ups say some pretty stupid things.

​What is it that inflates our ego, prosthelytizing to elementary school athletes about all the things we know.  We watch a couple of minutes of Garrett v Ramos and Cox v Dake, on Flo or YouTube, and spend our efforts harping on six-year old Timmy and Volunteer referee Tommy our mastery of the subtleties of the Fleeing the Hold Call ?

​I’m fortunate and flattered that I get to present a lot of Pre-Competition, Rules Interpretation Clinics.  When preparing, I always remind myself to know my audience.  The relatively few, among us, who WILL compete for Regional and National honors, depend on me for insight on how to gain the most from every rule.  Most are interested in getting their hand raised, that day, and figuring out if it’s OK to lock their hands or grab a leg.  Their parents are interested in getting a medal !

​So, the question becomes: “What’s the role of the Coach”, in making this work for all the different kids we have ?  I suggested this, yesterday, and it seemed to be well-received… “We, as Coaches, need to ‘Cheat’ more often, in practice”.

​I put that word, ‘Cheat’ in sub-quotes because, obviously, we have to define it for kids and parents.  What I mean by ‘Cheat’ is to take advantage of what a rule gives us, at face value, then exploit it further by incorporating its strengths into our tactical preparation.

​One subtle example:  We insist on calling this behavior a ”PUSH-out”.  It is, in fact, referred to by rule as a “STEP-out”.  What’s the difference ?  Bigger than you think, in the subconscious thinking of a 13 year old.  Offensively, more and more Straight-Arm pushes will be waved off.  Even our collegiate rules recognize this.  Worse than that, how many kids have you watched, totally commit to shoving their opponent out, only to get thrown for four, at the edge ?

​Defensively, we watch a lot of athletes give up two, or four, trying desperately just to stay in bounds.  This is where the psychological difference in terminology comes in.  A “PUSH-out” is your idea, and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna’ let you.  I’ll fall on my sword first.  But, a “STEP-out” is my idea.  It’s me knowing how many chips are on the table, cutting losses, thus maximizing potential.

​A much more glaring example:  Many of our youngsters, just crossing over from folkstyle, fall in love with the Side Headlock.  It’s got lots of cutesy names, like Cobra.  My favorite is “Trash-Can”.  I like it, because it’s at least in the game… “Trash Move”.

​Here’s my gripe.  First, it’s one of the most dangerous things we do, whether in practice or competition.  If the kid on bottom gets ‘stuck’ with the outside hip down, the potential for serious injury is overwhelming.  Second, and simply put, “Who are you gonna’ beat with it ?”  Not a good kid !

​So, we ‘Cheat’.  I ask all our local officials to stop the thing as soon as it gets hooked up… Every time !  On the converse, I ask our referees to ‘Be Patient’ with a kid working a legitimate Gut or Lace.  In so doing, we hope to influence BOTH athlete and coach. Regarding what techniques deserve the most time in practice.

​By the way… YES, we still teach counter measures to the Side Head, as we may see it outside our state.  But, I remain committed to teaching kids stuff, regardless of style, thatincreases their chance of beating “The Guy / Girl”.  This is a huge component of our efforts to DEVELOP the next generation of Kyla Snyders.  We have to be patient with sound technique and fight the urge to hurry with garbage.

​I’ll let you go, before I get any more wound up !  Here’s a note though:  I will NOT be in Dodge City.  I am Assigned to an event, Overseas.  I don’t have control over the UWW scheduling but, I assure you, I am “With” you.  The success of our Region is a driving influence for me.  Thanx !




 JUNE 5, 2016





Coaches, Referees and Leaders,

            Please accept this as my Annual Report, during our Region Meeting.  Please accept my apology for not being present, personally.  Being fortunate to have been designated as UWW’s Instructor for Beach Wrestling, I am currently on Assignment at the World Championship.  I’m on the Beach in Fazana, Croatia but… I PROMISE… I’m not enjoying it !

            Seriously though, I DO take my role, representing you, very seriously.  I make the effort to stay well ahead of other Regions, in terms of communication and dissemination of timely information.  The Southern Plains stays on the cutting edge, in terms of National Leadership, Athletic Achievement, Coaching and Officiating Excellence.  I value the

opportunity to be a contributor !

            First off, we have an Olympic Team… a pretty good one !  The Southern Plains made a  very strong showing at the trials.  The Region is well represented in Rio, as well as next weekend at the World Cup.  Congratulations on your part of that.

            Your National Coaches Council met, face to face, during the Olympic Trials.  The Council is undertaking some serious efforts to strengthen its position in the policy development part of USAW.  We feel it is always imperative that our country’s Coaches have maximum voice in any issue involving DEVELOPMENT.  Two specific areas are being addressed this spring and summer.

            The first is an Ad Hoc Subcommittee, tasked with evaluating the current structure and execution of that “Monster” we call “Fargo”.  As you would expect, the Southern Plains is at the forefront of that effort.  Mike Juby, of Kansas, was one of the State Leaders who prompted the formation of the Subcommittee.  Mike Hagerty, Missouri, is perhaps the strongest voice on the Subcommittee.  I have been flattered to have been invited to submit input, on behalf of our Coaches.

            You guys and gals need to know that this is a rather daunting, and extremely urgent, task.  We all pretty much know that we are operating and Regional and National Events menu under an antiquated paradigm.  This Subcommittee is willing to take on some serious challenge, in the interest of REAL change.  This change is systemic and touches a lot of bases.  While it may be difficult to move some of those who profit from the status quo, we all know we can do better for 21st Century Wrestlers.

            As the Subcommittee moves forward, promise me you’ll let me know your thoughts and needs.  I promise you I’ll make sure they reach the right ears and eyes.  I’m going to leave it at that, though I hope Mike Juby will comment, personally, during your meeting.

            Secondly, USAW President Ravanac has prompted the formation of another Subcommittee.  This one specifically addresses the needs and growth of USCAW’s involvement in the FOLKSTYLE arena.  The Subcommittee is chaired by Rob Cates, Nevada.  I have the honor of representing the National Coaches Council on that Subcommittee.  The group is “Action” based…  not just a lot of Okey-Dokey talk ! 

            We are currently working on two mini-projects.  The first is to consolidate rules, between NFHS and USAW modification.  The goal is to provide our wrestling “Customers” with simple, user-friendly rules that make sense to athletes, coaches, referees and spectators.

            Our second mini-project is to eliminate confusion some find, in the weird naming of our youngest age group.  It looks like we will propose a shift to “Soccer-Style” age classification (U-12; U-10; U8…) for those younger than School-Boy /girl.  It’s one of those things that just makes sense.

            Again, please don’t be shy about sharing your thoughts with me.  I will make sure the voice of the Southern Plains is heard.

            Finally… and this related to me being at a Beach Wrestling Championship… let me encourage ALL Southern Plains States and Clubs to get on that band-wagon !  Trust me:  UWW is taking Beach (or Sand) Wrestling VERY seriously.  As such, we need to stay AHEAD of the curve.

            You’re gonna’ love what Beach Wrestling does for your athletes’ Fundamental Skills.  Your parents and club leaders are gonna’ love the simplicity of hosting events.  Your kids are gonna’ love the fresh view they get of the sport.  Ask me, if you need help getting started.

            That’s it !  I hope you had another GREAT event in Dodge City.  USAW-Kansas does a magnificent job hosting…  Thanx !  I look forward to seeing you personally, in Fargo.  Best wishes to you and yours, in the various events coming up.



JULY 25, 2016





Coaches and Leaders,

            Fair warning:  I’ve got TWO Southern Plains Updates coming your way, this week.  This one addresses a topic or two from our recently completed National Championship.  The second will introduce some thoughts for our up-coming State Leaders Summit.

            I trust you got everyone home safely.  If you’re like me, you need a few days to hibernate and grow a personality.  “Fargo” is something we celebrate for a variety of reasons. It’s also a grind.  I appreciate all you do for kids to profit from the experience.

            The Southern Plains certainly enjoyed the success we’ve become used to.  Some of our states had several National Champions.  Others demonstrated balance and depth, with  lots of All Americans.  Overall, our region made it clear we have some of the finest athletes, coaches, referees, pairings officials and volunteers in the country.

At four short of 10,000 matches, “Fargo” has taken on a life of its own.  I’m sure the other numbers will get crunched, so we know exactly how many of whom entered, participated, got on the podium, were injured.  

            One number I need to address is the one that tells us how many kids are denied weigh in, due to contagious skin disorders.  I have volunteered to represent the National Coaches Council, at Medical Checks, for the last 18 years.  My purpose is to be somewhat of a mediator.  In this most stressful situation, I make sure that Coach and Athlete get complete information and are aware of all the rights available to them, through USAW procedures and protocols.  It’s not fun !

            This year, eleven athletes were turned away at Sunday’s Cadet Greco weigh in.  This is slightly higher than usual.  During Monday’s Junior Greco weigh in, six were turned away.  This is about normal.  During subsequent weigh ins, including initial Freestyle weigh ins, fewer athletes are turned away.  This lower frequency makes sense.  Severely infected kids don’t attempt Freestyle, while some have been successful in their treatment since Greco.

            Mathematically, one would think that something like 20 out of 2000… one per cent… is a pretty good average.  It is !  However, the weight of the consequence makes EVERY case its own tragedy.  Every kid just finished dreaming his/her way through a tough training camp and a long trip.  Every coach has been charged by parents to care for the kid and protect their rights. 

            Our experienced coaches recognize the health care professionals in charge, at skin checks.  Certified trainer Jim Porter has dedicated a forty – plus year career to wrestling. 

Doctors Ken Lane and BJ Anderson has spent decades, specifically addressing wrestling’s unique needs.  These guys, along with the staff they have assembled are the best of the best.

            Whether you’ve known these professionals for years, or are meeting them for the first time, nothing makes it easy when a kid comes to get you at weigh ins.  You know what’s coming, you know you can’t fix it, and you know you have to try.

            It starts with some “Science – Words” about what the infection appears to be, whether it’s bacterial or viral, what the appropriate treatment should include, and what the prognosis looks like for the next few days.  It’s hard to even hear the “Science – Words”, because we dread what’s next, “I’m sorry, Coach, but we can’t let him/her compete”

The next couple of minutes are pure hell, for both Athlete and Coach.  One, or both, may point out, “He/she has never had this before”.  Many point to statements on a doctor’s note from home, or a copy of the NFHS form.  Some demand a ‘Second Opinion’.  Most remain extremely professional in the exchange.  A rare few get pretty fired up.

It’s a no-win conversation.  We all know that ‘Information is Power’.  The Doctor is really trying to help the individual get the right prescription and make a long-term plan for prevention of recurrence.  Some athletes, knowing they’re prone to outbreak, are prepared for the outcome.  It’s safe to say MOST feel ambushed, assaulted, attacked, by a complete stranger.

Some parents, back home, know their kid is prone to recurrence and are sad but not shattered.  Many are not prepared for the shock.  It’s a tough phone call for any coach to have to make.  All these kids spent over a thousand dollars for the experience.  Many have big credentials in their home states, and are looking to make a mark nationally.  Some have big future plans on the line. 

So, this is me admitting that the moment just absolutely sucks !  It’s me wishing, desperately, I could wave a magic wand so we never deny another kid, based on a contagious skin disorder.  The reality is, we can’t ever fix it 100 %.  Still, I believe we can continue to decrease the number of athletes turned back at weigh in.

In our Coach Education’s ongoing process, we drive home that parable, “Information is Power”.  We admit to ourselves that contagious skin disorders are, always have been, always will be, part of our sport.  We make it important and we plan… just like we would conditioning peaks and the development of technique and tactic.

We also must share the benefits of our Coach Education.  Follow the dynamic, “Each one reach one… each on teach one”.  Those reading this, recognize our luck in being exposed to elite level coaching, and the education that comes with it.  It’s no slam to say that there are still many, MANY well-intentioned High School Coaches that simply don’t’ know what they’re looking for, or looking at.  For that matter, there are lots of well-intentioned family – practice Doctors that have little experience in the highly specialized area of contagious skin disorders associated with combative sport.

Admit that we see athletes get through High School skin checks when they shouldn’t.  It’s unfortunate, but true, that most High School Trainers, Referees, Coaches and Doctors simply don’t recognize symptoms.  It’s more unfortunate that some will still flat-out cheat, to get an infected kid on the mat.  We’ve seen, recently, too many large tournaments postponed or cancelled because of massive regional outbreaks.



Too often, we leave adolescent athletes on their own, in diagnosing and “treating” skin disorders.  In Fargo, last Wednesday, we saw four Junior athletes come through with Makeup covering potential disorders !  Most of us have seen the scarring, leftover from kids trying to ‘treat’ their own disorder.

I’m asking that, while it’s fresh in your mind, we all make a commitment to a positive next step.  Make education about, and prevention of, an important part of your winter season plan.  Help parents access good educational materials.  Establish relationships with ‘Wrestling – Friendly’ physicians, who will make it their business to study the symptoms our athletes are prone to.

Dr Anderson has spent over a decade studying contagious skin disorders specific to Wrestling.  He has volunteered in some of the most intense environments ( like J. Robinson’s Camps ) to gather information and develop conclusions.  I suggest EVERY High School Coach and Referee download Dr Anderson’s app: THEMATDOC.  There are also DVD and Hard-Copy tools available.

Google this publication:    The Effectiveness of Valacyclovir in Preventing Reactivation of Herpes Gladiatorum in Wrestlers.  After glancing through Dr Anderson’s piece, you’ll see how deep the science goes.  Offer the publication to your High School Trainer, as well as your Team Physicians.  Share it with colleagues at your Fall Coaches Clinics.  Suggest that your High School State Associations link to the piece.

It’s never going to be perfect… and that’s consistent with the promise we made to kids and parents, when we invited them into our beloved sport.  But, we also promised we’d teach kids to control those things they can.  To some extent, contagious skin disorders are part of wrestling that CAN BE managed and controlled, if not eliminated.

Thanx for doing your part !  It highlights your commitment to maximizing every wrestler’s experience.





JULY 27, 2016





Coaches and Leaders,

​Here is the SECOND update of the week.  It has to do with the upcoming State Leaders Summit, scheduled next week (August 4-7) in Colorado Springs.  Much of the discussion that started last week, in Fargo, will continue at the Summit.  Southern Plains Leaders will always be in a position to have a positive voice.  Realize that a lot of their strength comes from knowing what’s on the minds of their Grassroots Coaches.  Please get with your State Leaders on any issues you feel strongly about.

​Two of the key discussion points, currently on the table, actually blend together into one vital question.  A subcommittee has been working their tails off, trying to figure out how to manage the “Elephant in our Room”… Fargo.  Another committee has been working to establish a renewed thrust for USAW in the Folkstyle arena.

​When you take both together, the real question becomes, “What competitive opportunities should a responsible NGB place on the menu for its youth and developmental athletes ?”  I urge you to use all those discussion tools you’ve been taught:  Think Big Picture; Get Out of The Box; Come to Grips with Your Own Vested Interests in the Status Quo.

​Exactly twenty years ago, we combined our Cadet and Junior National Championships, in Fargo, so we could free up volunteer time for the Atlanta Games.  Having held the Juniors(along with our Annual Convention) in Fargo the previous three years, we had developed a pretty intense romance with the Dome, the Campus, the Community.

​Prior to 1996, the National Juniors had been labeled “The Largest Wrestling Tournament in the World” for the previous twenty years.  The AAU Grand Nationals had faded to a distant second.  A couple of entrepreneurial spirits had just begun to offer ‘Big Trophy’ wildcat events.  But, make no mistake, Fargo was THE SHOW.

​Combining the Cadets and Juniors added a day or two, but freed up another complete week.  The biggest had gotten even bigger, and it seemed to do so without straining any cog in the system.  Since then BIGGER has taken on a life of its own.  Many of those cogs threaten to fail under the strain.

​That twenty year generation made the most of what the National Governing Body had to offer.  Looking at the existence, the efforts and ideas of the two committees mentioned suggests it may be time for this generation of leaders to map out the NEXT twenty years.




Since we combined the Cadets and Juniors, in 1996, a lot has changed about the “Marketplace” in wrestling.  USAW has been successful, growing Women’s Development.  We have grown large, successful Duals Championships in three age groups, both genders, plus a Middle School Folkstyle event.  Many of the entrepreneurs are making Big Bucks selling Big Trophies.  The AAU has added an event at Disney World (almost as much fun as Fargo).   Lots of new equipment and supplies manufacturers and distributors are cashing in.

For all the bragging we do about Wrestling being a sport, friendly to poor kids, the cost to many, if not most, Wrestling families has become anything but.  Of the 2500 kids competing in Fargo, there are those 400 that get lit up in the first minute of four matches, two per style (for men).  Those parents are effectively paying between $300 and $400 a minute for their kid to experience “The Show”.  Many of the equipment packages we see at Fargo cost more than the whole trip did in 1996.

We are also experiencing a noticeable drop in the numbers of just-graduated Seniors competing in Fargo.  It seems many of the Blue-Chippers are already in their college rooms, or camps.  Many are jump-starting summer classes.  Others have hung up their shoes and are enjoying some down time.  A few still use Wrestling as a sort of Senior Trip, but spend it in Orlando rather than taking a beating in Fargo.  Shocked ?

The two committees I mentioned have worked tirelessly to offer up some new-paradigm thinking.  Both have been able to re-identify target bases of our athlete membership.  The Folkstyle Committee is focused on delivering better service to the quarter-million High School Kids who do not compete in the Olympic Styles.  The “Fargo” Subcommittee seeks to fine-tune our existing system of Regional & National competition in the Olympic Styles.

This delicate balance between quantity and quality defines the mission of our NGB.  We owe it to every kid to have the chance to live the Wrestling life.  We also want to make sure that the best Inside our borders are the best Outside !

We all know, deep down inside, it’s time for us to modernize our plan and execution.  It’s hard to fight that “Fear of Change”.  Please, share your personal ideas with your State Leaders.  You’ll find that most of us are in the same chapter, if not on the same page.

I’ve narrowed my thoughts to two sweeping generalizations:  We will profit from Growing our Regionals and Shrinking our Nationals;  and we will profit from getting our Age Groups in line with the rest of the planet.

What I’m saying is:  I think we need to find another, less expensive opportunity for those ‘Two and Out’ Fargo kids.  Our National Championship needs to have ESPN appeal, as the absolute Best of the Best.   I think, in the 2016 climate, considering the needs of High School, College, Club and State programs, our National Championship needs to feature UWW SchoolBoys/Girls and UWW Cadets.  This means that every kid in the event will be in High School NEXT year.

Argue with me !  Think what you think !  But, again, please share your thoughts.  Your State Leaders are empowered by your commitment.  Collectively, we give those leaders the courage to responsibly grow our base and deliver our Mission.


Here is a correction.  In my note, earlier this week, I made reference to the WRONG publication.  Dr BJ Anderson’s most recent piece is titled:

Prophylactic Valacyclovir to Prevent Outbreaks of Primary Herpes Gladiatorum at a 28-day Wrestling Camp: a 10-year Review


​Opening Ceremonies are a week from Friday !  First Greco weigh ins are Saturday, the 13th.  First whistle is Sunday, the 14th.  Get fired up !  GO USA !!!








Coaches and Leaders,

            Like you, I’ve spent the last 10 days digesting all that happened in Rio.  Wow !  Obviously, we, as a nation, crowned some new super-stars.  Just as obviously, we suffered some heartbreak.

            As I write, our Juniors have already produced four medals in France.  This gives us the boost we need to get over the hump.  It should also remind us that our performance in Tokyo 2020, and the people who live it are in our hands. 

            I get asked a lot of questions about the Mongolian “Striptease” that took place on the last day.  This display, however entertaining, focused attention on a bigger problem.   The Mongolian Coaches’ frustration was a symptom of the frustration all of us felt.  There was seemingly obvious corruption among several of the referees in these Games.

            If you watched matches like Franklin Gomez’, Rei Higuchi of Japan, the Armenian Greco kid at 66kg, or Tomas Lorinz of Hungary, you know that multiple injustices took place over the eight days.  The actual CALL, fleeing the hold, against the Mongolian, was well within the stated rule.  The problem was in the lack of proper protocol demanded in “Setting Up” the call.  (It reminds us of the final seconds of Dake v Cox in Iowa City).

            We know that at least three referees have been suspended indefinitely.  I suspect it’s a good possibility more will fall.  While this is the only justice available, after the fact, is seems marginal when you consider what it cost the kids.

            We all know that refereeing is an imperfect science.  All of us have watched kids fall victim to “Bad Calls”.  We have to take some solace in being American.  We know mistakes get made in our domestic competitions.  But, we know, deep down, that American referees will not maliciously, flat out, cheat a kid.  So… Keep Your Clothes On !  (That’s my new answer, when I get called to the table !)

            We watched the Japanese Women dominate another tournament, winning four of six.  Another question I get asked a lot is, “What separates them ?”.  My short answer is, “Discipline”.  Unfortunately, we can never duplicate that in our contemporary American society.  Still, I think there are elements of the concept we could all do well to discuss.

            I’m sure you were all screaming at the TV, during the final seconds of J’Den Cox’s loss.  I know I was screaming at the top of my lungs, along with Coach Zadick… “J’Den, you’re losing !”. 

            Through this, we discover one of those hidden “Little Things” we can provide while we corner a kid.  Whenever the score is tied, “LOOK AT ME”. 

            When you talk to your kids, APPRECIATE the absolute beauty Jordan Burroughs has added to our sport.  I have no inside track as to JB’s plans.  But, I stand my ground… he has brought us all to a higher plateau.


On the business side, the Board of Directors of USAW accepted a proposal from the State Chairs to increase membership prices.  Please have a conversation with your State Leaders, so you are giving your kids and parents good information.

            Nobody likes cost increases.  Still, when all is said and done, USA Wrestling provides the biggest bang for the buck in all of amateur sport.  Please make it clear to your kids and parents that there is, in fact, a cost to producing the next Helen Maroulises, Kyle Snyders and J’Den Coxes.

There is still a lot of discussion about modifying the schedule of that ‘Monster’ we call ‘Fargo’.  When I know, you’ll know.

As we approach autumn, I’ll get you what information I can to maximize your Scholastic season, from USAW’s perspective.  Until then, I wish you well !


Proud American.


Wrestling Community 

Farmington's Jacob Adams has started his fight against Cancer.

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Coaches and Leaders,

            Regular Season workouts are well under way and we’ll all be competing within the next few weeks.  I realize the College coaches, among us, have already started competing.  The bulk of our Southern Plains coaches, though, serve High School athletes and younger.

            We also have a significant number of Southern Plains constituents who are involved in officiating, in addition to coaching.  I have Three goals, with this update:  Provide some insight into a Particular 2016-2017 Rule “Change”;  Offer a Common Sense November Checklist; and Keep You Informed about current Coaches’ Council Issues.  Here goes !

            Only Two rule changes came from NFHS.  You already knew that.  One deals with the Sequence and Timing of awarding additional back point and penalty point, if there’s a foul while one athlete is on their back.  This is NOT a thing to worry about !  When it happens, SUPPORT your referee and table help, to make sure things are recorded in the proper order.

            The second rule change WANTS to be simple, yet has the potential to cause some grief.  It has to do with one athlete being in a Stand Up, versus their opponent returning them to the mat.  The Bottom Line, here, is that NOTHING changed !  In a world full of lawyers, during a time that is focused on Concussions, the Committee simply had to add Specific Language labeling this position as Potentially Dangerous.  I have added a link for you, if you’re interested in the Editorial Explanation from NFHS.


            If you fast-forward the video and watch from 8:30 to 13:00, Elliot does a great job walking us through intent and application.  He lets us know that the CASEBOOK is MIS-PRINTED (in advising referees to quick-whistle the position !  He reminds us that rules applying to UNNECESSARY ROUGHNESS and SLAM take care of all our concerns.  He supports our awareness that ALL wrestling holds / positions have some Potential Danger.

            Two states have decided they want their officials to quick-whistle the position.  NEITHER of the two are in the Southern Plains, thank goodness !  We need to focus, together, as Coaches and Referees, to highlight safety WITHOUT disrupting flow and scoring potential.

            I’m working closely with my own state’s rules interpreter, to monitor this application.  Let me know if I can help.



Here’s that November Checklist.  I have found that working these points into the intensity of practice and intersquad / ranking competition helps both experienced and beginning athletes minimize distraction, as well as preserving Cardiac and Mental Health for Coaches.

  • Address that RETURN TO MAT rule early and often.  Talk about Back Heel Trips and Lifts.  Talk about cutting our losses, when it’s time to Cut ‘Em.
  • Check everybody’s Shoes !  This rule has been clarified, which helps.  They either must have a Factory-Designed Securing Mechanism, or Tape AROUND THE ANKLE.  Ask your kids to LET YOU KNOW, if they get new shoes for Christmas.
  • Check everybody’s Head Gear.  Tape and/or Stick On decals are No-No’s.  Factory-Printed logos are cool (but must be in ‘Good Taste’).  Straps that are Factory Designed to be Undone and Crossed “Should Be” OK.  If you have control-freak refs in your area… do what works !
  • Put ONE coach in charge of DAILY skin checks !  Get your kids to think PREVENTION, rather than cure.  Do NOT accept ‘Sneaking Around’ as acceptable.
  • Put that same coach in charge of HAIR and SHAVE.  We all know it’s 2016.  We all also know that Wrestling has some unique traditions.  Hair and Shave are two… but they are, nonetheless, based on safety.
  • Create ways, in Practice, to let new athletes experience MATCH conditions.  Show them how to put on an ANKLE BAND.  Have them rehearse BUCKLING UP before they report.  Practice all the Hand-Shakes.  Talk about CHOICES, and the rationale behind each.  (Teach your newbies what the word ‘DEFER’ means.
  • Talk about what GOOD questions might be asked in the Referee’s Pre-Match visit.  If you have kids with great Tilts, or funky stuff, pointing them out to the ref plants the seed of which team is better prepared.  Can’t Hurt !


Your NATIONAL COACHES COUNCIL met, by Conference Call, November 15th.  During that call, we approved a plan for fielding School-Boy teams for Pan-American Championships.  UWW’s new focus on Developmental Age Groups will play favorably for us, in the 2020 quadrennium. 

The testy parts for us are:  We compete in more Domestic Weight Classes than UWW provides; and the Pan-Ams are scheduled in October.  While this is a great chance for our top eighth and ninth graders, some may grow through a weight class between qualifying and competing.  This age-group opportunity will remain self-funded for the foreseeable future.

The Council is also dialed in, pretty hard, on some proposed changes to the FARGO schedule in 2017.  We have another call scheduled, November 28th.  This will remain a hot topic.  I’ll do my best to keep the Southern Plains in the heart of the discussion.

That’s a good glimpse, for now.  You guys enjoy your Thanksgiving !      Ciao, Rusty