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Va. Tech, St. Cloud State SIDs, InterMat’s Foley among 2014 NWMA award winners

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Wrestling sports information directors at Virginia Tech and St. Cloud State – along with journalists who cover amateur wrestling, including authors Jamie Moffatt and T.R. Foley of InterMat – are among the recipients receiving awards from the National Wrestling Media Association, the organization announced Monday.

The NWMA – the national professional organization for journalists who cover wrestling – revealed awards for top college wrestling SIDs, along with journalist, photographer, broadcaster and publication of the year, along with special awards for book authors Moffatt and Foley.

The NCAA Division I Sports Information Director of the Year is Bryan Johnston of Virginia Tech. Johnston, the Associate Director of Athletic Communications at the Blacksburg-based school has been wrestling media contact for the Hokies since 2000.

St. Cloud State’s Tom Nelson is the Small-College SID for 2014. Nelson has worked at the Division III Minnesota school since 1996, helping to promote the Husky wrestling program.

Joe Kania of the Newark Star-Ledger/NJ.com is the NWMA Journalist of the Year. Kania is in his second year of covering wrestling for New Jersey’s largest newspaper and its website. Prior to joining the Star-Ledger staff, Kania had launched Garden State Wrestling.

Mark Bader of Flowrestling.org has been named Broadcaster of the Year. Bader, who wrestled at University of Missouri, has been actively working on national broadcasts since 2008, “providing an entertaining and excitable brand of commentary,” according to the NWMA press release.

Photographer of the Year is Mark Beshey of The Guillotine, the publication and website that focuses on wrestling in the state of Minnesota. Beshey’s photos capture mat action at high school and college events throughout Minnesota and across the nation.

The Predicament – the magazine that has covered wrestling in the state of Iowa since 1970 – has been named Publication of the Year. Currently run by Jim Thompson and Wyatt Schultz, the print publication also supplements its content with online news as well as rankings, results and news for all levels of wrestling in Iowa, from kids’ tournaments to senior-level freestyle and Greco-Roman.

Richard Immel of USA Wrestling has been selected as New Media Specialist for 2014. A former University of Oklahoma wrestler, Immel has been at USA Wrestling for two years. Among his accomplishments: implementing weekly Google Hangouts with college teams and international wrestlers., as well as providing audio commentary and video streaming support for USA Wrestling events.

In addition to the specialized awards, the NWMA also honored two of its members with the Jay Hammond Memorial Special Recognition Award. The award is named for wrestling historian Jay Hammond, who passed away in November 2013. The award, given for outstanding work in the effort to educate and enhance the sport of wrestling through media, is being presented to authors Jamie Moffatt and T.R. Foley, both who chronicled the battle to restore wrestling to the Olympics after the International Olympic Committee Executive Committee axed the sport in February 2013.

Moffatt, along with USA Wrestling, authored the book “Saving Wrestling: The Inside Story of the Sport’s Epic Fight” -- published last October -- provided an inside perspective on FILA’s inner workings and the power struggle to restore wrestling to the Olympics. Foley, a senior writer for InterMat, recently released “Full Circle” which the NWMA described as “a photographic timeline of the events that started when the IOC announced wrestling would be dropped from the Olympic program. With photos from Foley and Tony Rotundo, this full-color book gives an illustrated path of wrestling's return to the Olympic Games.”

Founded in 1989, the NWMA website states the organization is intended for reporters, editors, publishers, webmasters, photographers, broadcasters, sports information directors and other media professionals who share an interest and involvement in wrestling. In part the organization’s mission statement declares, “the NWMA will strive to support the growth of wrestling and its position within the sports world and the general public by developing more quality coverage of the sport through all available media outlets. A focus on the history of the world’s oldest sport and accuracy in reporting on wrestling is the foundation of the organization’s mission.”

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