Made to be broken

HOWLAND – Bill Beasom graduated from Howland in 1991 as one of the most decorated wrestlers in Tigers’ history, holding six different records.

It’s a good thing Beasom, now Howland’s head coach, is a firm believer that records are made to be broken.

The last of his records was surpassed on Saturday when junior David-Brian Whisler recorded his 151st takedown of the season in the finals of the Division II sectional wrestling tournament. Beasom’s mark of 150 stood for 22 years, but if it had to fall, he’s glad Whisler was the one to break it.

“I wouldn’t want anyone other than him to do it because he’s such a great kid,” Beasom said. “His work ethic and his attitude about life is so great that he deserves it.”

That said, Beasom did make sure to point out that he set the record in 39 matches, and Whisler has wrestled 43.

“I like to tease him and tell him I got it quicker,” Beasom said with a laugh. “It’s fun. He said he’ll have it in 30 matches next year.”

The fact that a kid he coaches broke the milestone makes it a little easier for Beasom to swallow. Whisler, though, had to rub it in just a little.

“When he graduated, he had a bunch of records, and they were all broke except for that one. … Not any more,” Whisler said. “He’s a good sport about it. He’s more proud of me than he is salty.”

The relationship between Whisler and Beasom, one that started in grade school, is one of the reasons Whisler set the mark. It’s also why Beasom said he’s become a better coach.

Whisler wrestled for the Howland youth program, where Beasom was one of his coaches. Whisler joined a wrestling club in junior high and didn’t participate for the Tigers in seventh and eighth grade. He rejoined Howland as a freshman, and after missing the state tournament by one match that season, he responded by placing fourth in the state as a sophomore.

Whisler, who won a state title as an eighth-grader, is now the top-ranked 152-pound wrestler in Division II, according to one publication. He said such a distinction never would have happened without Beasom.

“He’s been mentoring me since I was little, and we’re like dudes,” Whisler said. “I guess he saw something in me when I was little.”

The key to Whisler’s progress through the years, Beasom said, was his willingness to continue to improve and avoid becoming complacent. Whisler was disappointed with last year’s fourth-place finish – an incredible accomplishment by an underclassman. This year, his only focus is to win it all, and he’s taking every measure possible to reach that goal.

He and Beasom travel to different wrestling clinics and clubs around the state – and other states – to further their knowledge of the sport. For instance, Whisler said Pennsylvania wrestlers are renowned for their ability to dominate from the top position, so he would take 2- and 3-hour trips a couple times a week to different parts of Pennsylvania to work on another phase of his game. The man driving with him was, of course, Beasom.

“We get a lot of what his dad calls ‘window time,’ ” Beasom said. “We spend a lot of time in the car driving to practices, and that just makes you closer.

“We sit there and talk about wrestling all the time. We both love it. A lot of people don’t follow (wrestling) like he and I. We watch other kids and other tournaments to see what they’re doing. We’ll watch videos together. We have a lot in common, so it works out well.”

They’re not the only ones who have something in common. Beasom’s son, Dylan, is an eighth-grade wrestler for Howland, and he really wanted Whisler to come help coach him this past Sunday at the junior high district tournament.

“(Whisler) woke up at 6 a.m. and drove down to Steubenville to coach him and come support him,” Bill Beasom said. “I’m just so grateful for him. How many high school kids would get up on his only day off and drive an hour and a half away after wrestling for two days? I’m so appreciative and so was my son that he went and did that for us.

“It’s pretty amazing when you find kids like that.”

Dylan placed fourth, qualifying him for the state tournament.