By Sports editor Brian Hoffman
The Roanoke Valley Wrestling Association held its annual Hall of Fame and Awards Banquet in the spring and the “Class of 2022” had lots of ties to Vinton. In fact, four of this year’s inductees either coached, wrestled or served as a trainer for William Byrd High School with Ron Wood, Randall Sell, Mike Gibson and Talina Williams among the class of five. Don Cox was the other inductee, and he was presented by former Byrd wrestler and coach Barry Trent, while 2022 Byrd graduate Hunter Richards also received a special honor.
Wood attended William Byrd High School and wrestled there in the mid-seventies.
He wrestled at 112 lbs, then moved up to 119 lbs. Ronnie was a three-year letterman and was a Blue Ridge Champion and two-time district runner-up. Ronnie also placed in the Region 3 Tournament two years. He wrestled to a third-place finish one year and a fourth place another year.
Ronnie was a contributing member of a team that was District, Region, and State Champions not once, but twice. His coach said, “He was a leader in the wrestling room by example, not words. Ronnie could be counted on to score valuable team points in big tournaments. He had a great work ethic.”
Wood stayed involved in wrestling after high school by volunteering as a coach at William Byrd. Ronnie has continued as a volunteer assistant coach for close to 20 years. He has worked with multiple head coaches. As head coaches changed over the years, Ronnie was a staple there. During this time, he was able to coach while his son, Brian wrestled.
Over the years, Ronnie helped out at local wrestling tournaments on a regular basis. The Roanoke Valley Wrestling Association presented him with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Big Orange Tournament in 2016.
Sell comes from a wrestling family. He wrestled at William Byrd High School where he was a four-year starter and won multiple district and region titles. He placed three times in the AA State Tournament, including 6th place as a 112 pounder and 3rd place as a 119 pounder. After graduating, Randall wrestled at Messiah College and Longwood University.
Randall has coached at several schools throughout the Roanoke Valley. He spent several years as the head coach at Staunton River, then moved to Salem High School as head coach. He also served as a volunteer assistant coach at Lord Botetourt and head coach at Andrew Lewis Middle School while working with several youth programs, including the Botetourt Wrestling Club.
Sell has taught Physical Education and Health for over 15 years. He has made a positive impact on his students and wrestlers through the years. The wrestlers, students, and their parents respect him and appreciate his leadership.
In 2021, Randall became a host of the Noke Wrestling News, where he and RC coach Nate Yetzer give updates on the Roanoke College wrestling program and the Blue Ridge Wrestling Training Center.
Randall and his wife, Alicia, have two sons, Hunter and Colin, and a daughter, Olivia. Both Hunter and Colin carried on the wrestling tradition and Randall has been able to help coach them. Colin, a graduated senior at Lord Botetourt, received the Roy Stanley Outstanding Achievement Award at the spring Hall of Fame banquet.
Gibson began wrestling in eighth grade for Glenvar High School and wrestled through his senior year under Dickie Myers and Stan Parker. He started in the105 lb. weight class, moved up to 119, and then to 138. “Gibby” qualified for the State Tournament with a 5th-place finish in the Region III Tournament in 1973. Unfortunately, his senior year was cut short when he had a broken sternum. Mike went to James Madison University where he was a walk-on and wrestled in the 142 lb. class and 150 lb. class.
After graduation from JMU, Mike taught Art and coached boys’ basketball and football at Craig County from 1978 through 1980. From there he went to William Byrd, where he taught Drivers Ed and Art from 1980-1993. Gibby coached football, wrestling and tennis from 1980 through 1988. While coaching at Byrd, he worked with Barry Trent for eight years and won the Blue Ridge District and Region III for several years. In 1982 he helped coach the wrestling team to the AA State Championship.
Gibson moved to the world of officiating in 1988. He was a member of the Roanoke Valley Wrestling Officials Association, and was a referee for middle school and high school matches and tournaments including the state tournament. Mike also officiated at the college level including the CAA Wrestling Championships.
His next stop was Salem High School where he taught Art from 1993-2019. While at Salem, he coached wrestling, boys’ and girls’ tennis and girls’ basketball.
Williams’ relationship with wrestling and the wrestling community likely began at birth in Grundy and continued through the years with the Grundy Wrestling Club. She does have bragging rights from an Elementary School Tournament when she beat 4-time Virginia State Champion, Shane Bowman.
Talena was part of the first Athletic Trainer cohort hired by Roanoke County Schools in 1997 and served at William Byrd High School. She was instrumental in helping develop weight loss guidelines in Virginia and she did so with the wrestlers and competition in mind. As part of On-Site Sports Medicine and Carilion sports Medicine, Talena helped design and implement a concussion protocol used for all contact sports.
As an ATC, Talena has covered local, regional, and national wrestling events including the 2003 NCAA Division 1 Wrestling Tournament in Kansas City, MO. For over 25 years, Talena has managed medical coverage for the State Wrestling Tournament in Salem. Her team has treated hundreds of wrestlers. Talena is a member of the US Olympic Medical Staff and attended to support the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
Talena and her husband, Adam, have a son, Tyson. Adam coached wrestling at William Byrd.
The fifth inductee, Don Cox, is a former wrestler at the Virginia School of the Blind, Appalachian State, and Virginia Tech, and he coached at Jefferson High School.
In addition, graduated William Byrd senior Hunter Richards received the Larry France Memorial Scholarship. Hunter will attend Emory and Henry and major in biology with a focus on wildlife and land conservation. He wants to be a Game Warden. Hunter was a four year starter and four time state qualifier for the Big Orange.