Preserving a Legacy
by Staff Writer
Sean Finkbeiner is chasing wrestling history.
Finkbeiner, North Mecklenburg High’s wrestling coach, has launched a project to gather information about the school’s 50-year wrestling history. And he’s taking steps to display it all as part of the program’s 50th anniversary.
Finkbeiner is seeking wrestling information, photos, statistics and stories from former North Mecklenburg wrestlers and coaches. Like many high schools, North Mecklenburg doesn’t have a seamless recorded history, as administrators and coaches changed over the years.
“When they left, the record and stats went with them,” Finkbeiner said. “There’s so much history. North Mecklenburg was a wrestling power, and we don’t have a lot of that information. I’m just trying to bring it back, to honor the past so we can build a foundation of success for the future.”
North Mecklenburg’s wrestling room, where the team practices, is a refurbished auto garage on the north end of campus.
Inside, Finkbeiler created a “Wall of Champions,” where he plans to honor the school’s former champions with framed photos and statistical displays.
Nearby is a new “Wall of Revenge,” which is geared toward the current Vikings wrestlers. There are results posted from recent meets and upcoming matches, decorated with a colorful Vikings logo.
Duck into the next room, and there are new blue lockers for the wrestlers.
“There used to be tools and equipment in here,” Finkbeiner said.
A few feet away, he displayed some personal wrestling memorabilia from his standout career as an All-American in high school and at Penn State University. It will give the Vikings a preview of what the new walls may look like.
Finkbeiner said he was in a youth wrestling program growing up in Pennsylvania, and “every day, we’d walk past (displays of) the state champions, regional champions and so on that they had in their wrestling room.”
There’s a plan to create a “Wall of Records,” which will highlight past and current Vikings’ accomplishments in victories, pins and takedowns. It will be as much to honor former athletes as to motivate the current ones, Finkbeiner said.
“They can see the records and what they have to shoot for,” he said.
So, what sort of information is Finkbeiner seeking?
First, he’s seeking where-are-they-now details and won-loss records for seven of North Mecklenburg’s state champions: Walter Shaw (1965-66), Danny Whisenant (1966-67), Allen Barnette (1968-69), Rick McGraw (1972-73), Glenn Woodley (1978-80, the school’s only two-time champion), Tony Mercer (1983-84) and Joe Diehl (1986-87).
Also, Finkbeiner is working to unravel these mysteries, and is hoping people in the community can provide answers to questions such as:
• Where did the wrestlers practice for seven years if the school didn’t purchase its first wrestling mat until 1969?
• Where did the 1995-96 team practice since it didn’t have a practice area at school?
• Have there been any father-and-son combinations that wrestled at North Mecklenburg?
• Robert Hoy may be the record holder for season and career wins, pins and takedowns, but what are his complete statistics?
Finkbeiner also is creating a video that will be shown at Senior Night on Jan. 24 in the school cafeteria. All former wrestlers, coaches, athletics directors and administrators are invited.
Feinbeiner’s mission isn’t only about the past; he’s blending it with the present.
After being dormant for a few years, the North Mecklenburg Invitational was re-established, and last weekend the event drew 12 wrestling teams to the Vikings’ gym.
The tournament was created in 1983 by Chris Rust, who was North Mecklenburg’s longest-tenured wrestling coach (1982-94).
Finkbeiner re-named the tournament’s outstanding wrestler award the “Chris Rust Award” to honor the event’s creator.
While he’s chasing history, Finkbeiner remains dedicated to improving the current Vikings. One motivational ploy has been to grow a mustache. It’s dark and thick, and to Finkbeiner’s chagrin, becoming itchy.
He’s told the wrestlers on his team that they can shave it off when they win a dual-team match. So far, the Vikings are 0-2.
“My wife doesn’t like it much, either,” Finkbeiner said, laughing. “So I’m making sure they get extra time lifting weights until I can get rid of this thing.”
Want to help?
If you have any wrestling information to share, send an e-mail to Finkbeiner at email@example.com, or feel free to drop off pictures, stories, records or famous quotes at North Mecklenburg.