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Feb. in review: Bill Simpson, Clarion 1973 NCAA wrestling champ, dead at 62

Bill Simpson (right), shown here with fellow Clarion 1973 NCAA champs Don Rohn and Wade Schalles
Bill Simpson (right), shown here with fellow Clarion 1973 NCAA champs Don Rohn and Wade Schalles
Clarion University

Bill “Elbows” Simpson, a 1973 NCAA champ for Clarion University, passed away on Feb. 12, 2014 in Clarksburg, Md., according to a press statement issued via email by his college alma mater Friday. He was 62.

William G. Simpson won the 167-pound title at 1973 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships at the University of Washington in Seattle. The No. 4 seeded Simpson defeated second-seeded Doug Wyn of Western Michigan in finals, 7-3. On his way to the title match, Simpson pinned his first two opponents, and upset top-seeded Keith Abens of Iowa State in the semifinals, 12-5.

Simpson was one of three Clarion wrestlers to win individual titles at the 1973 NCAAs, joined by teammates Don Rohn at 134 pounds, and Wade Schalles at 158. The Eagles placed fourth in the team standings in Seattle.

The following year, Simpson placed fifth at 167 as a senior at the 1974 NCAAs at Iowa State, making him a two-time All-American. In addition, he was a four-time PSAC (Pennsylvania State Athletics Conference) champ.

A 1990 inductee into the Clarion Sports Hall of Fame, Simpson compiled a 121-21-2 overall record as an Eagle wrestler from 1970-74, securing half of those victories (61) by pin. His fastest fall was in 25 seconds.

“Bill was one of the foundation blocks that marks the tradition of Clarion Wrestling,” said Bob Bubb, Clarion head wrestling coach from 1967-92. “He was one of our greats! Elbows was a tremendous wrestler with a great work ethic and a real pleasure to coach. I shall never forget that infectious smile and hearty laugh.”

“Bill Simpson was my best friend and I will miss him,” said former teammate Wade Schalles, who attended the funeral on Feb. 24. “As I said my good-byes, tears streamed down my face, but I was not alone. It was a befitting send off for one of the gentlest men I have ever known. I hope to be with you again, someday my friend, in the comfort of God’s hand.”

Prior to coming to Clarion, Simpson was a Maryland state champ for Gaithersburg High School in suburban Washington, D.C.

Simpson is survived by his daughters Daphne R. Dixon and Melissa D. Simpson, along with three grandchildren. His wife Gloria preceded him in death.

About the photo: At the 1973 NCAAs, Clarion University had three individual champs. From left, Don Rohn, Wade Schalles, and Bill Simpson.

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