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Willie Welch competed for Stillwater High at 171 pounds as a senior.

NewsPress file
Stillwater NewsPress

The life of Willie Welch was cut short the second week of May.

On a Sunday evening, the 21-year old Stillwater High graduate lost control of his Ford F-150 pickup while driving and was killed in the ensuing accident.

A former wrestler, friends and family have set up a Willie Welch Scholarship Fund. Starting next spring, a $500 scholarship will be given to a Pioneer senior who plans on continuing his wrestling career in college.

“Willie wasn’t going to wrestle in college, but he is part of a group of families that is directly responsible for the success we are having right now,” said SHS wrestling coach Doug Chesbro. “The Bellattis, the Elmores ... Willie and his family were the ones who kind of got it going at the youth level.

“Jay Arneson (Yukon head coach and Welch’s uncle) and Lisa Duke ... they kind of came up with the idea to set something up.”

Welch, who graduated from Stillwater High in 2003, does not rank near the top of the Pioneers’ all-time wins list. He never qualified for the state championships, but he certainly finished his career with a bang on a February night in the old SHS gymnasium.

Trailing 11-6 against Broken Arrow’s Joel Maturino, Welch secured a takedown, turned the Tiger to his back and pinned him at the 3:45 mark.

“I got a second wind,” said Welch after the Senior Night dual meet. “We were talking about needing four pins to win the dual and I think everybody knew (Maturino) was pretty tough. It’s been a pretty rough year for me and 171 has to be one of the toughest weights. Wrestling bigger and stronger guys is tough but all I can do is try and something big happened.”

With Luke Elmore, Will Lambert and Zac O’Dell manning 145, 152 and 160 pounds, respectively, that season, Welch, a 152-pounder as a junior, competed at 171.

The Welch Fund is set up to help support the SHS wrestling program with the annual scholarship for an athlete continuing his mat career in college starting in 2007.

Donations can be sent to: Stillwater High School c/o Athletic Dept. (Doug Chesbro); 1224 N. Husband Ave.; Stillwater, 74075.

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