The National Wrestling Media Association, founded in 1989 as a member group of journalists, photographers and media specialists, announced its 2013-14 award winners at its annual meeting at the 2014 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Here are this year’s winners:
Division I SID of the Year: Bryan Johnston, Virginia Tech
Johnston, the Associate Director of Athletic Communications at Virginia Tech has been an active publicist for a number of Hokie sports, but he’s been able to develop and promote wrestling through the last three head coaches via releases, social media and weekly press operations. Johnston, a graduate of the University of South Carolina, started with Virginia Tech in 1999 and has been the media contact for wrestling since 2000.
Small College SID of the Year: Tom Nelson, St. Cloud State University
Nelson has worked at St. Cloud State University since 1996 and has been one of the top media relations professionals for the Husky wrestling program. Combined with the school’s social media resources, Nelson has provided fans and the media complete and quick information regarding wrestling.
An active member of CoSIDA, Nelson sits on that group’s Site Selection Committee. He has served as a media coordinator at numerous USA Hockey Player Development Camps and has been the media stewart for the MSHSL Class AA baseball tournament since 1997.
Journalist of the Year: Joe Kania, The Star-Ledger/NJ.com
Joe Kania is in his second year covering wrestling for The Star-Ledger in the ultra competitive high school wrestling beat in the Garden State. Kania, a graduate of Bloomsburg University, started Garden State Wrestling prior to working at The Star-Ledger. In addition to beat coverage, Kania does on-camera videos, broadcasting, rankings and video production. Kania is a native of Westfield, N.J.
Broadcaster of the Year: Mark Bader, Flowrestling
Originally starting with Flocasts under the PureFight brand, Missouri graduate Mark Bader has been actively working broadcasts nationwide since 2008. Bader wrestled at 125-pounds for the Tigers and provides an entertaining and excitable brand of commentary. He’s traveled the nation and the world for Flo and is one of the most recognizable figures in the wrestling media.
Photographer of the Year: Mark Beshey (The Guillotine)
Long the source for wrestling news in Minnesota, The Guillotine also brings wrestling fans in the North Star State fantastic photos provided by Mark Beshey. Mark’s brother Jeff owns the publication and Mark Beshey has been present at hundreds of college and high school wrestling events in Minnesota and nationwide.
Publication of the Year: The Predicament (Iowa)
Founded in 1970, The Predicament has been the source for wrestling news in Iowa at the college and high school level for over 40 years. Currently run by Jim Thompson and Wyatt Schultz, the print publication also supplements its content with online news as well as rankings, results and news for all levels of wrestling in Iowa, from kids tournaments to senior-level freestyle and Greco-Roman. This is the second time The Predicament has won the award. It previously won in 1998-99.
Website of the Year: Trackwrestling.com
One of the biggest innovations in wrestling in the last decade as been the implementation of Trackwrestling into the sport’s landscape. Founded by Justin Tritz in Wisconsin as a means to simplify state tournament seeding, Trackwrestling has handled some of the biggest wrestling tournaments in the country and has even integrated matside electronic scoring, scoreclocks and seamless integration with live video streams to provide fans and the media up-to-the-second live updates on college wrestling events. Combined with the NWCA Scorebook, Trackwrestling has been utilized by the NCAA at the last several championships in all divisions as well as the official results software of USA Wrestling.
New Media Specialist: Richard Immel, USA Wrestling
A native of Oklahoma and a former Sooner wrestler, Richard Immel is in his second year at USA Wrestling and in his short time in Colorado Springs, Colo., he’s continued to evalvate the company’s social media reach as well as implemented weekly Google Hangouts with international and college teams and personalities. Immel also provides audio commentary and video streaming support for USA Wrestling events.
In addition to the specialized awards, the NWMA also honored two of its members with the Jay Hammond Memorial Special Recognition Award. The award is named for the late Jay Hammond, who passed away earlier this year. The award is given for outstanding work in the effort to educate and enhance the sport of wrestling through media.
This year’s honorees are Tim “T.R.” Foley and Jamie Moffatt. Both authored books in the past year detailing the fight for the inclusion of wrestling in the Olympic Games. Foley’s book, Full Circle, is a photographic timeline of the events that started when the IOC announced wrestling would be dropped from the Olympic program. With photos from Foley and Tony Rotundo, this full-color book gives an illustrated path of wrestling’s return to the Olympic Games.
Moffatt’s book, co-written by Craig Sesker of USA Wrestling was titled Saving Wrestling: The Inside Story of the Sport’s Epic Fight, broke down some of the inner workings of FILA and detailed the power struggle at the top and what changes happened in order for wrestling to return to the Olympic Games. Filled with inside information, the book educated the wrestling community on what really went on behind closed doors and who the players were behind the sport’s potential demise and it’s rise back to the Olympic program.