Big night for Big Orange at Wrestling H of F banquet

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ADAM CATRON

The Roanoke Valley Wrestling Hall of Fame inducted four new members and handed thousands of dollars worth of scholarships at their banquet Monday evening, and Vinton wrestlers were a big part of it. The event was held at the Holiday Inn at Tanglewood Mall.

William Byrd graduate Jan Sessor is one of four members of the Class of 2017. He was inducted along with Barry Mason, Charlie Bandy and Daryl Drew.

William Byrd graduate Randall Sell, who coached at Read Mountain Middle School and volunteered with the Lord Botetourt High School team, was presented the Sonny Boyd Assistant Volunteer Coach award. Patrick Henry took home two of the top honors, as Theo Thaxton was named the “Wrestler of the Year” and PH coach Jesse Anderson was named the high school “Coach of the Year.”

Six $1,000 scholarships were also awarded, including one to William Byrd senior Adam Catron. The Virginia Tech bound senior received one of four Ken Shelton Scholarships and Adam also won the Roy Stanley Outstanding Achievement Award.

Other Shelton Scholarship winners were Jake DuVall of Lord Botetourt, Lee Pritchard from Patrick Henry and Skylar Akers from Franklin County. Stan Parker Memorial Scholarships, also for $1,000, went to Jeremiah Anderson of Patrick County and Dylan Gusler of Bassett.

Sessor began wrestling in middle school, first at Breckinridge under Ron Childress and then at William Byrd Middle under Al Minter. He continued wrestling in high school at William Byrd under Barry Trent and Mike Gibson.

Jan was a two-time District Champion, two-time Region Champion, and placed twice in the State Tournament and was a State runner-up.  Jan went to Mount Union College where he was a member of the wrestling team one year. Then he spent a year on the wrestling team at VA Tech.

Jan’s coaching career covers two years as an assistant at William Byrd. One year he worked with his former coach, Barry Trent and the next year he worked with Adam Williams. He also spent a year at Byrd Middle coaching with his former middle school coach, and a year as an assistant at Radford High School with Buddy Shull.

Officiating wrestling was the next step in Jan’s wrestling involvement. He was a member of the Roanoke Valley Wrestling Officials Association from 1997-2009. During that time, he refereed numerous middle school and high school matches, as well as, multiple district and regional tournaments. He returned to William Byrd to officiate two Big Orange Tournaments. He also was a member of the Big Orange Tournament and Seeding Committee for over 5 years.

Some of his other wrestling accomplishments include working with Dave Ross and Otis Dowdy to televise the Group A and AA State Wrestling Tournaments and contributing to and providing information for TV, radio, and newspaper coverage of wrestling. Jan produced a column for the Sports Journal, entitled The Mat Corner to promote local wrestling. He also worked with the Virginia Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Jan was instrumental in restarting the Roanoke Valley Wrestling Association after it had been on hiatus for a number of years. He served as president and assisted in the creation of the Ron Childress Tournament and was instrumental in starting the Roanoke Valley Wrestling Academy which provided local wrestlers a place to train with local high school and middle school coaches as well as college coaches. Jan continued serving on the RVWA Board of Directors. During this time the RVWA developed the awards and scholarships that continue to be given each year at this banquet.

He played a role as one of the founders of the Roanoke Valley Hall of Fame working with Stan Parker. Jan worked with Otis Dowdy as co-chairmen of the Hall of Fame Selection.