Gannon Introduces 1st Women's Wrestling Coach – YourErie


ERIE, Pa – Gannon Names Christen Dierken First Women’s Wrestling Coach
ERIE, Pa. – Gannon Director of Athletics Lisa Goddard McGuirk has named former United States National Team member and four-time collegiate All-American Christen Dierken as the University’s first women’s wrestling coach. The Lady Knights’ inaugural season kicks off in November.

Dierken brings a plethora of wrestling experience to the Gannon program. Nationally-renowned for her performance on the mat, Dierken qualified for the World Team Trials five times (2008-13) and competed in the 2012 Olympic Trials. She was also a two-time Senior National Team member, representing the USA in tournaments and training camps domestically and internationally from 2009-2011.

“We are very excited to welcome Christen to the Gannon family,” said Lisa Goddard McGuirk. “Her experience, coaching philosophy and wrestling expertise are impressive. Christen will be a tremendous addition to our department and community.”

Dierken started her wrestling career as a high school freshman after her older brother, Mike Lilly, convinced her to give it a try. She became the first and only female to wrestle all four years at Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton, California where she was coached by her older brother’s former coach, James Valenzuela, who has since also coached two other family members. Following graduation, she earned a scholarship to wrestle at the University of Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Kentucky. Dierken proceeded to become a four-time All-American, including a pair of national runner-up performances. She placed among the nation’s top six all four years as a Patriot.

“My family and I are extremely excited to join the Gannon family and be a part of pioneering women’s wrestling in the state of Pennsylvania,” said Dierken. “I am eager to begin working with our student-athletes in their development as champions not just in athletics, but in their academics, spiritual life and personal character.

“I hope to make a positive impact in the lives of our student-athletes and the local community. I am so blessed and grateful for this opportunity to follow my God-given passion (wrestling) to make a difference in lives and minister to the needs of others.”

Dierken’s collegiate career featured two national championships, including titles at the Fila Junior National Championships and University National Championships. In addition, she captured a pair of Pan-American Championship silver medals. In 2010, Dierken won the international competition and NYAC tournament. She was a four-time U.S. Open All-American and three-time University National All-American. Academically, Dierken was a member of the Spanish Honor Society at the University of Cumberland from 2009-11.

Dierken began her collegiate coaching career at the University of Cumberland following graduation, serving as a women’s wrestling graduate assistant coach from 2011-13. She was part of a staff that coached 18 All-Americans, six U.S. Open placewinners and a pair of national runner-ups during a two-year time span. Dierken’s responsibilities included recruiting, practice oversight, administrative duties, workout plans, and travel plans. She currently serves as a Specialist in the Army National Guard and Physical Education teacher at A.M. Yealey Elementary School in Florence, Kentucky.

Gannon announced the addition of women’s wrestling as the University’s 22nd varsity sport in late January with 2018-19 serving as the inaugural season. Gannon is the first school in the state of Pennsylvania to offer women’s wrestling as a four-year intercollegiate program.

Women’s wrestling is the first varsity athletics program to be added at Gannon since 2013 when the acrobatics and tumbling and competitive cheer programs became varsity sports. The official competition season is November-March. Gannon is the 39th school to sponsor the emerging sport.

In contrast to the men’s sport which wrestles under folkstyle rules, the women’s sport competes with freestyle rules which represent one of the two olympic-style formats. Although not an official NCAA varsity sport at this time, women’s wrestling is currently in the process of trying to achieve NCAA emerging sport status. The Women’s Collegiate Wrestling Association (WCWA), in conjunction with the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA), provides oversight as the governing body for the up-and-coming sport.

Women’s wrestling has experienced notable growth nationally and within the state of Pennsylvania at the high school level. Since 1994, the number of women participating in high school wrestling nationally has grown from 804 to 14,587 and the number of high schools that sponsor wrestling has grown from 8,559 to 10,629. Women’s wrestling has been an olympic sport since 2004 with Helen Maroulis winning the first gold medal for the United States in 2016.



Destiny Wrestling Organization is gaining more momentum in Albuquerque – KRQE News 13


ALBUQUERQUE N.M. (KRQE) – The Destiny Wrestling Organization is a local professional wrestling promotion based out of Albuquerque. The DWO is now in its 11th year of existence, and they believe that they are gaining more fan interest and that their product has been molded to fit every wrestling viewer.

“When you come here, tou hear independent wrestling and people also acquaint it with back yard wrestling, you guys that aren’t trained this and that, the second you walk into our doors you are going to see it is a top notch display,” said Josh Pain the DWO Director od Competition.

“We want everyone to know that kids are welcome, women are welcome, we try to attract everybody and have something for everybody with our product,” said Adam Merrick the Commissioner of Destiny Wrestling.

DWO was started by a few friends that knew each other from high school in Moriarty. They first came to be back in 2007, and since then they have grown a lot. They run shows by monthly now in Albuquerque and they average more than 400 fans per show.

“I think that a lot of it has to go with working with the New Mexico athletic commision and with that we have been able to advertise more and reach such a more broad audience. we are now getting more fans and more people behind the product which is awesome,” said Merrick.

DWO has a show on Saturday, April 21, at the Cesar Chavez Community Center and they are expecting an action packed show.

“Our heavyweight champion Chad Thomas is taking on WWE’s ex talent Sin Boedy and local hero Hobo Hank,” said Pain. “We have two girls well known throughout the independent wrestling scene, Shotzi Blackheart and Chelsea Green. It’s going to be one epic match,” said Merrick.

General Admission tickets are still available for the event that will start on Saturday with the doors opening at 6:30 p.m. and matches beginning at 7 p.m.

“You can expect hard hitting, in your face action. Professional wrestling like it was meant to be displayed,” said Pain.

To find out more on Destiny Wrestling, click here.



A look back at Bruno Sammartino and some colorful wrestling figures who passed through St. Louis – STLtoday.com


Bruno Sammartino, who was known as wrestling’s ultimate good guy, died Wednesday morning in Pittsburgh. “The Living Legend” held the championship belt for more than 11 years in the 1960s and 70s and was one of wrestling’s most popular stars. 

Sammartino was also a top draw in St. Louis and had several big matches here. St. Louis was a wrestling hotbed back then, thanks largely to the show  “Wrestling at the Chase” which ran for 24 years. 

Here is a look at Bruno Sammartino and some of the most famous characters in St. Louis wrestling history.

Read more about Bruno Sammartino



Marlborough wrestling pair leads Panthers into powerhouse future – Community Advocate


By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer

Wilson Ordonez (left) and Noah Wilcox hold signs congratulating them on their 100 wins in Marlborough High School wrestling.
Photo/Dakota Antelman

Marlborough – Wrestlers Noah Wilcox and Wilson Ordonez started their high school wrestling careers together four years ago at Marlborough High School (MHS). They ended those high school careers earlier this year at the national wrestling championships in Virginia Beach.

“It’s pretty cool given that since freshman year, we’ve both been practice partners,” Wilcox said. “To do this senior year is pretty sweet.”

Having practiced together throughout high school, Wilcox and Ordonez dominated their regular season opponents before moving side by side through weeks of postseason tournaments. They racked up state championships before qualifying for both the New England, and, eventually national championship tournaments.

However proud of his wrestlers individual successes, though, coach Matt Knapp sees his team’s larger evolution reflected in the arc of Wilcox and Ordonez’ careers.

“Their growth and their time together has been indicative of my time on this team,” he said. [Wilcox and Ordonez have] got better every single year; I feel this team has got better every single year.”

Though he said Marlborough ranked fourth among Division II teams in the states after this year’s regular season, Knapp said Panther wrestling was not always so successful.

He said it ranked 44 when he started his current job just four years ago. Nevertheless, coming from his previous job coaching in urban settings, Knapp said he was hopeful upon seeing both the athletes in his program and the parents and school staff supporting them.

Looking back, he said he was confident he could help the team improve.

“I walked in that room and I saw the potential,” he said. “I don’t even know if it was a goal, I just knew it was going to happen.”

Central in that, Knapp said, was, indeed, the contributions of Wilcox and Ordonez.

Wilcox, he said, made a name for himself with his “funky” wrestling style that enabled him to surprise opponents and score points. Ordonez, meanwhile, Knapp said, found success behind his strength and speed.

The two, Knapp said, complimented each other nicely.

“They’ve really helped each other fill in those gaps that they didn’t have,” he said. “They also gave each other a lot of strength in the areas where they were already strong.”

With their 2017-2018 season now behind them, Wilcox and Ordonez are off to college where they both hope to continue their respective careers.

Back at Marlborough, though, Knapp hopes the pair’s contributions to the Panthers are not finished. This successful winter on the mats, Knapp, Wilcox and Ordonez agreed, helped broaden the appeal of the sport to the student body.

“Wrestling isn’t usually something that people talk about but once we started getting our names in newspapers, people started talking about it,” Ordonez said.

Knapp said he is confident in the group of wrestlers returning for next season. Still, he added, the energy his two senior stars injected into the sport over their four years ought to help the program long-term.

“There’s a buzz in the air about the team,” he said. “Kids want to come out for it.”



USA Wrestling Will Require Media To Submit To Vague Background Checks And Training Program – Deadspin


Photo: Laurence Griffiths (Getty)

With sexual abuse scandals plaguing USA Gymnastics, USA Swimming, and USA Taekwondo, the national governing body for wrestling is putting bizarre new policies in place that will subject those who cover the sport to harsher protocols.

All coaches, volunteers, referees, and medical personnel who work with USA Wrestling are required to submit to a background check and complete an online training program created by the U.S. Center for Safe Sport, an organization meant to investigate claims of abuse in U.S. Olympic sports. Now, USA Wrestling wants to force journalists covering their events to go through the same background check and training program.

USA Wrestling executive director Rich Bender told the Washington Post that no journalist who covers wrestling events has been accused of abusive behavior, but he sees these new requirements as a proactive measure to make the sport safer. He also acknowledged that these new protocols might drive away media coverage, but he didn’t see that possibility as a deterrent:

“But at the end of the day, it’s more important in our minds to take steps to create a safe environment as opposed to making it easier for the media to cover your sport. We want to do everything in our power to make wrestling more attractive and draw media to our sport. But nothing’s more important than keeping it safe.”

The Associated Press Sports Editors organization has already denounced the new policy, and has called for journalists to avoid covering USA Wrestling events while the new rules are in place. APSE president Jeff Rosen told the Post that, “The lack of specificity on background checks, including the extent and areas of the checks, and the disposal of information and indemnification of the media is both alarming and dangerous.”

Given that it was media scrutiny that originally brought the crimes of former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar to light, any policy that will effectively tamp down similar scrutiny of other sports seems unwise.

[Washington Post]



The first family of pro wrestling – BizTimes.com (Milwaukee)


Family Business

It began with my mom. She would stay up on a Saturday night watching the likes of Verne Gagne, hometown hero Da Crusher, Dick the Bruiser and the Vachon Brothers.  Following that was “GLOW- Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling,” the forerunner to today’s “Total Divas.”

I am not embarrassed at all to report I watched wrestling and to this day, try to keep up on the latest in soap opera sports. To deny that professional wrestling is a big business is to deny the facts – it is a global empire. And the first family of pro wrestling is currently the McMahon family of World Wrestling Entertainment. Many of you reading this may have known this name, but it is unlikely that you know the family history.

Starting in 1952, the grandfather to the reigning emperor began Capital Wrestling Corp. Yes, wrestling is a family business for the McMahons, and the business was passed to Vince Sr., who ran the business until 1982, when Vince Jr. bought it. To make things even more interesting for our readers, Vince Jr. is married to the current administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Linda McMahon.

While you may dismiss this family as nothing but Hollywood and faux, it is a real business bringing in millions of dollars and is quite legitimate in the eyes of the federal government, if not your dubious eyes.

Recently, the patriarch Vince Jr. announced a new football league to rival the NFL. This is no stunt. It’s McMahon’s second try to launch a new pro football league, after the XFL in 2001. The timing might be right for him to try again. You may have noticed that the NFL has had some struggles recently and has seen slumping attendance and viewership to prove it. The cynic in me might say it is because my beloved Green Bay Packers were not in the playoffs, but I suspect the troubles began long before this. Head injuries, deflate-gate and a fellow named Colin (Kaepernick) all played a prominent role in the troubles of the NFL. Along comes Vince McMahon and the WWE, with a string of movie successes and stars like The Rock and John Cena. Bet against the WWE and XFL if you must, but my money is on the family.

The family business does not end with the current patriarch – it extends to the children, Shane and Stephanie, and Stephanie’s husband, Paul Levesque. To the more avid wrestling fan, you know Paul as his wrestling moniker, Triple H.  Stephanie is the most frequently seen member of the family today and appears to be the keeper of the brand.  Shane has wrestled, and if you follow the story line, has been exiled from the family firm. But, like all things in professional wrestling, he could return in the future or is active but behind the scenes.

Like all family businesses, this family has weathered serious challenges to the brand. Allegations of steroid use, suicides and even death in the ring have all plagued the business. In 2014, The Ultimate Warrior, who had beaten Hulk Hogan in Wrestlemania VI, died of a heart attack many believe was induced by years of steroid use. In 1999, in the most famous death in wrestling history, Owen Hart of the famous Hart Foundation family of wrestling died in an equipment malfunction, falling to the floor of the Kemper Arena in Kansas City. Today, the granddaughter of the original Hart wrestling patriarch, Natalya, is the reigning wrestling women’s champion – or at least she was when I wrote this. You know wrestling…

At a time when the first family – the Trump family – comes from the entertainment world, we would be better not to scoff at the entertainment empire started by and continued into the fourth generation by the McMahons. It is the McMahons who launched the political career of the former governor of Minnesota, Jesse “The Body” Ventura. I am quite sure none of us would have even heard of Ventura if it weren’t for the fact that he was a regular star on Vince McMahon’s WWE.

The McMahon family has gone from wrestling to entertainment, from football to the White House. How many of you can say that?

David Borst, Ed.D., is executive director and chief operating officer of the Family Business Legacy Institute, a regional resource hub for family businesses. He can be reached at david@fbli-usa.com.

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Family Business

It began with my mom. She would stay up on a Saturday night watching the likes of Verne Gagne, hometown hero Da Crusher, Dick the Bruiser and the Vachon Brothers.  Following that was “GLOW- Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling,” the forerunner to today’s “Total Divas.”

I am not embarrassed at all to report I watched wrestling and to this day, try to keep up on the latest in soap opera sports. To deny that professional wrestling is a big business is to deny the facts – it is a global empire. And the first family of pro wrestling is currently the McMahon family of World Wrestling Entertainment. Many of you reading this may have known this name, but it is unlikely that you know the family history.

Starting in 1952, the grandfather to the reigning emperor began Capital Wrestling Corp. Yes, wrestling is a family business for the McMahons, and the business was passed to Vince Sr., who ran the business until 1982, when Vince Jr. bought it. To make things even more interesting for our readers, Vince Jr. is married to the current administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Linda McMahon.

While you may dismiss this family as nothing but Hollywood and faux, it is a real business bringing in millions of dollars and is quite legitimate in the eyes of the federal government, if not your dubious eyes.

Recently, the patriarch Vince Jr. announced a new football league to rival the NFL. This is no stunt. It’s McMahon’s second try to launch a new pro football league, after the XFL in 2001. The timing might be right for him to try again. You may have noticed that the NFL has had some struggles recently and has seen slumping attendance and viewership to prove it. The cynic in me might say it is because my beloved Green Bay Packers were not in the playoffs, but I suspect the troubles began long before this. Head injuries, deflate-gate and a fellow named Colin (Kaepernick) all played a prominent role in the troubles of the NFL. Along comes Vince McMahon and the WWE, with a string of movie successes and stars like The Rock and John Cena. Bet against the WWE and XFL if you must, but my money is on the family.

The family business does not end with the current patriarch – it extends to the children, Shane and Stephanie, and Stephanie’s husband, Paul Levesque. To the more avid wrestling fan, you know Paul as his wrestling moniker, Triple H.  Stephanie is the most frequently seen member of the family today and appears to be the keeper of the brand.  Shane has wrestled, and if you follow the story line, has been exiled from the family firm. But, like all things in professional wrestling, he could return in the future or is active but behind the scenes.

Like all family businesses, this family has weathered serious challenges to the brand. Allegations of steroid use, suicides and even death in the ring have all plagued the business. In 2014, The Ultimate Warrior, who had beaten Hulk Hogan in Wrestlemania VI, died of a heart attack many believe was induced by years of steroid use. In 1999, in the most famous death in wrestling history, Owen Hart of the famous Hart Foundation family of wrestling died in an equipment malfunction, falling to the floor of the Kemper Arena in Kansas City. Today, the granddaughter of the original Hart wrestling patriarch, Natalya, is the reigning wrestling women’s champion – or at least she was when I wrote this. You know wrestling…

At a time when the first family – the Trump family – comes from the entertainment world, we would be better not to scoff at the entertainment empire started by and continued into the fourth generation by the McMahons. It is the McMahons who launched the political career of the former governor of Minnesota, Jesse “The Body” Ventura. I am quite sure none of us would have even heard of Ventura if it weren’t for the fact that he was a regular star on Vince McMahon’s WWE.

The McMahon family has gone from wrestling to entertainment, from football to the White House. How many of you can say that?

David Borst, Ed.D., is executive director and chief operating officer of the Family Business Legacy Institute, a regional resource hub for family businesses. He can be reached at david@fbli-usa.com.

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