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Why did you start the Wolf Pack Holiday Wrestling Tournament?

We put it together to provide additional opportunity for wrestlers to see opponents they might not see until the European tournament. You’ll see wrestlers here from Italy, the U.K. For years, Aviano sent their whole team to this tournament. We even had people from Turkey. It turned out that if you thought of yourself as a possible European champion, you had to wrestle here.

What’s the hardest part about mounting a continent-wide tournament such as this one?

The hardest part is in the small details, especially logistics. For years, we ran this tournament in Schweinfurt, which meant we had to haul the mats 54 kilometers [about 33 miles] down the road to Schweinfurt and set them up. We then tore them down at midnight and hauled them back.

Does it ever get any easier?

Once you’ve done one, you’ve got a checklist, so you know what you have to do each time. Our wrestling parents at Würzburg understood that they were expected to help out. I always received 100 percent involvement from them. No one got to go home before we were finished, though, and there were a number of times people weren’t very happy with me.

What were some of your worst moments?

One year in the late ‘90s, we had 210 wrestlers and didn’t get finished wrestling until 2 a.m. Another year, the weather didn’t cooperate. AOSR (American Overseas School of Rome) had flown in for the tournament, and we rushed to get it finished so they could get back to the airport to go home.

Are you pleased with the way it worked out for the Holiday tournament?

Everything’s turned out great. What was good over the years was to see the champions at the Holiday in the finals of the European tournament.

Have you had much to do with wrestling such you gave up coaching and running wrestling camps?

Being a FILA (international wrestling federation) referee over here has been great. This has kept me close to the sport - especially after coaching.

Würzburg’s fading out. Is this tournament gone forever?

You can count on seeing us get it going again at Vilseck.

Editor’s note: Werner, regarded by many as the major impetus for high school wrestling in Europe in the 1980s and 1990s, founded this annual off-schedule tournament as an extra event each season while coaching at Würzburg High School. Werner left the tournament, which quickly grew to rank second only to the annual European championships, when he went on to administrative duties at other schools in recent years, but was invited back to announce the final meet in the series Dec. 22. Würzburg High is scheduled to close its doors forever in June.

Know someone whose accomplishments, talents, job, hobby, volunteer work, awards or good deeds qualify them for 15 minutes of fame? How about someone whose claim to glory is a bit out of the ordinary — even, dare we say, oddball? Send the person’s name and contact information to: news@estripes.osd.mil

Duane Werner

Title: Emcee-in-the-know, Wolfpack Holiday Wrestling Classic

Day Job: Principal, Vilseck High School

Europe readers: Know someone whose accomplishments, talents, job, hobby, volunteer work, awards or good deeds qualify them for 15 minutes of fame? How about someone whose claim to glory is a bit out of the ordinary — even, dare we say, oddball? Send the person’s name and contact information to: news@estripes.osd.mil.


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