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Personal Memories of Penn State Wrestling


Joe Humphreys (1956)
It was 1956. We were wrestling Lehigh in Rec Hall. Lehigh, as always, had a good team. It was going to be close. Dave Adams was wrestling Eichelberger at 147 pounds. The match was going back and forth. The capacity crowd was going berserk, and 1 was warming up behind the bleachers. I was to wrestle Dick Whitehead at 157.

Doc Speidel came to me (Adams had lost, 14-12) and stuck his finger on my chest and said, "You gotta win." Larry Fornicola standing next to me said, "Just remember, Hump, you don't gotta do anything!" His words took the pressure off, and with only ten seconds left in the match and me leading 3-1, the ref (and Lehigh fan) called me for stalling. Then a two-point penalty, and the match ended in a draw. Back in those days no one was ever called for stalling. Oh, yes, we did beat Lehigh that night.

In 1956 the National Collegiate Wrestling Championships were held in Stillwater, Oklahoma, home of then Oklahoma A & M, and in the first round I drew Formanac, Iowa State, Big 8 Champ. He had beaten Doug Blubaugh, a national champ. I was behind in the second period, and the match was close. As we went off the mat I slammed back to back against Johnny Johnston, who was wrestling on the next mat and was losing to a Michigan wrestler. Johnny looked over his shoulder and said to me, "How you doing?" "I'm losing", I said. And he said, "So am I." We both lost, but every time I see Johnny we laugh about it. Johnny the next year won the Nationals. Wrestling for Penn State and lettering in '54, '55, '56 were some of the best years of my life. Horsehair mats, mat burns, a thousand 9-minute matches, great friendships, a dear friend in Charlie Speidel and the tough lessons learned in victory and defeat. It did so much to help shape my life.
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