05/22/17 — WRESTLING: Edmundson induction into NC Chapter of National Wrestling Hall of Fame

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WRESTLING: Edmundson induction into NC Chapter of National Wrestling Hall of Fame

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 22, 2017 9:59 AM


CHAPEL HILL -- Rosewood head wrestling coach Bill Edmundson remains a little fuzzy about his team's first-ever opponent.

Did the Eagles grapple against either Eastern Wayne or Southern Wayne?

And the outcome?

Well, it was a teaching moment.

"We got our butts handed to us, a bitter pill to swallow to have that as an introduction to high school wrestling," Edmundson said. "To console those guys and say, 'hey, it's OK, we're going to get better.' It was just a wake-up call. You see what you have to do to get better and make the adjustments.

"I hate losing more than anybody, but I understand that experience growth. You've got to have some hardships."

The seasons have come and gone.

Edmundson has seen and "studied" the class-act coaches who stand out and make an impact on the lives with everyone involved in the program aren't concerned about wins and losses. He's learned that victories associated with deeper life lessons are the most meaningful.

Coaches attempt to emulate the success of current Hall of Famers Jerry Winterton (Cary), Milt Sherman (D.H. Conley), Bobby Shriner (Orange HS) and the late Bill Kemp of Goldsboro. They, along with countless others who selflessly sacrificed their time, set the standard for their peers in the sport.

Edmundson joined that group Sunday afternoon.

The Wilson County native was enshrined into the North Carolina Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame located in Stillwater, Okla.

"When I learned of this nomination, I was really speechless and humbled by the history of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame organization, and the legends of coaches who have been inducted into the North Carolina chapter," said Edmundson, who was part of the 15th class inductees -- six in all -- recognized during the three-hour ceremony.

"For our program to even be mentioned in the same breath with these legends is a humbling experience and true honor."

Rosewood started with one wrestling mat.

There was no feeder program.

His first-ever team filed a 7-7-1 worksheet.

Under his leadership, the Eagles have never experienced a losing season.

The secret to their success?

Edmundson pointed to several factors. He thanked the administration, his assistant coaches, other coaches at the school who volunteered their time at tournaments, the community, the Little Eagles program and his family -- wife Linda, daughter Jackie, his mom Marie and his dad Bill. All have played pivotal roles that have helped mold the small rural school into a wrestling powerhouse that is currently on a phenomenal run.

Rosewood claimed the 2016 N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A dual-team state championship -- the first in ANY sport in school history. The Eagles emerged as the NCHSAA 1-A individual team state champ that same year.

This past winter, Edmundson's squad drove to Robbinsville -- an 800-mile round trip -- and finished as the state dual-team runner-up. One week later, they successfully defended their individual state team title.

"Ultimately, the success of a program is all about the athletes," said Edmundson, who has produced five individual state champions and fashioned a 644-193-1 career record along the way.

"Fortunately, we have fostered a sense of program ownership and pride with our wrestlers. They see the legacy of former wrestlers and strive to maintain our philosophy, and continue building the bridge for future wrestlers.

"Coach (Robert) Britt often says we 'are the most-wrestlingest group he has ever seen.'"

Rosewood has captured 21 regular-season titles, 21 conference tournament crowns, advanced to 24 dual-team state tournaments and also competed in 24 state individual championships.

In its last four individual tournament trips, the Eagles have placed fourth (2014), third (2015) and topped the competition each of the past two years.

"We have been very successful with getting people who are not necessarily the main-stream athletes to come out for wrestling and be successful," Edmundson said. "I'm so proud of the people who are not necessarily main-stream athletes with the work ethic that they have. They're able to overcome things that natural athletes take for granted."

Edmundson's contribution to wrestling also involves videography. He runs his own company, Premier Productions, that has filmed several NCHSAA championship events for PBS and most recently Time Warner Cable Sports Channel.

He's worked closely with Martin Fleming, creator and editor of The Takedown Report -- a publication that highlights the success of wrestling programs in eastern North Carolina.

"(I've) always been impressed at the large numbers that Bill gets out for the team and also the large numbers that he keeps at the end of the season, which is something we really need to do in wrestling in this day and time," said Fleming, who was instrumental in Edmundson's nomination.

"He is a very deserving member of the Hall of Fame."

The success, undoubtedly, has gone far beyond Edmundson's imagination when that truck pulled up to the gym and delivered the school's first-ever wrestling mat 26 years ago. Since then, he and his wrestlers have lived by the motto "those who remain will become champions."

Edmundson has guided the way.