January 31, 2014

Bedlam tradition strengthens CHS wrestling

Adam Troxtell
The Express-Star


Homer Hulme wasn't always so big on wrestling.

It took a chance meeting with Oklahoma great Danny Hodge, hailed as the best wrestler to come out of the state. But it hooked him, and ever since Hulme has worked to bring that allure of the sport to Chickasha's youth.

So for more than 20 years now, Hulme has spent time and money to take youth, junior high and high school wrestlers to one of the state's premier wrestling events: the Bedlam series.

"There's nothing like seeing the best, and OU and OSU are among the best wrestling programs in the nation," Hulme said. "We take the youth, junior high, high school and any of their family members that want to go."

It's influence on the growth and conservation of Chickasha wrestling is evident. Both former Chickasha wrestlers Matt Surber and Erik Ford have gone on to take up coaching careers; Surber with Tuttle and Ford with Piedmont. They both witnessed this Bedlam tradition, which, as Hulme states, can have a significant impact on players.

"There's guys that have come up in this and stayed in the game," Hulme said. "Last year, one of the young wrestlers, Lamar Neff, said he wanted an autograph from one of the wrestlers. I said we'll do better than that; let's go get a picture with him."

While the big smiles might appear on the young wrestlers, Hulme still gets excited even after all these years. That meeting with Hodge and a subsequent class Hulme took on the sport has molded his dedication, and that has led him to try and keep this going for decades to come.

Last year, Hulme set up a $50,000 endowment that will pay for future Bedlam trips.

"The earnings from it will keep this thing going forever," Hulme said.

The hope is that this will continue to grow the sport. Despite it's apparent popularity, wrestling programs have still had to scrounge up the funds to give competitors the best opportunity possible. Hulme said he has paid out of pocket for Chickasha wrestlers to attend district and regional tournaments as well as to attend camps.