In Search of Bobby Burnette, Dan River and the 1960 Virginia State Wrestling Tournament

If you recall, we put out an All-Points-Bulletin for one Bobby Burnette, the 165lb 4th placewinner from 1960.  The school listed in the official records was “DR”.  However, none of the schools listed as attending the tournament had the initials DR and Deep Run was not a Virginia high school until 2002.

So we started searching through the yearbooks with Douglas Freeman (DF) being the obvious choice – a simple typo.  Alas, he wasn’t in any of their yearbooks.  So we went through the yearbooks of ALL the OTHER schools and again – no Bobby Burnette.

However, our plea to the wrestling community came back with manna from Heaven… in the form of one, Phil Stone, Douglas Freeman, Class of 1960.

You see Phil was in that tournament in 1960, then went on to wrestle at UVA.  Wrestling must have meant a lot to him, still must, because he reads this little ol’ blog.  Somehow, wrestling must have given him something good that has lasted him a lifetime that made him want to keep it part of his life.  Something valuable.  Something cherished.  Not just memories, but something that resides inside and rides with you wherever you go, carries you even, something that says “I’m a Wrestler”.

You see, Phil kept every clipping, every bout sheet, every program from all his days of wrestling.  A gold mine for us history buffs.  Thank you Phil, we are indebted.  You came through for Bobby too, making sure he gets the honor he deserves.

So, we got together and poured over the clippings, getting long lost first names for many folks.  Then there it was, a round-by-round reporting of the 1960 Virginia State Wrestling Tournament… and Bobby Burnette of Dan River High School listed right there in front of us.  HERE’S THE PROOF!

1960 VA AAA Results

We dug some more and went back to the yearbooks… the Dan River yearbooks and there was the man himself, sitting hand on hip, sure of himself.  He knew who he was all along and where he was from… Dan River, Virginia.

Dan River Yearbook 1960

Now this brings up more questions.  How did Dan River have a wrestler place in the tournament, but have no team points?  From talking to folks it sounds like kids could practice at other schools if they didn’t have a team.  But I count 10 wrestlers in the team photo, so why no points?

There’s more that we can learn here too.  Looking at the “Mat Summaries” did you notice that they had a “morning” session with the lower weights and an “afternoon” session for the upper weights?  Have we thought about how mad our wrestling schedule is today – loading kids, parents and fans up with all day tournaments, where you arrive early, sit around for hours on end, then wrestle for six minutes.  Maybe this works for state qualifiers, who have already bought into wrestling, but what about the new kids and the new parents, just trying the sport out.

I know that once you’re a wrestler you assume that all the things we do are good and right, but we do not do a good job of making adjustments to our sport that are necessary for it to GROW.  The wrestling community needs to look in to this and consider if alternate start times could improve the sport.

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