WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., Sept. 28, 2016 — You may want to think twice before shaking hands with Roger “Tom” Wells. The junior exercise physiology major is a member of Team USA arm wrestling and will soon compete in the international tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria. A non-traditional student, Wells also works a full-time job, is married and has three young children.
“I began arm wrestling about six years ago and have competed ever since. My neighbor, Neal Robinson, introduced me to arm wrestling and also is a member of the Unites States arm wrestling team,” he explained. Robinson is going to the world competition also.
A resident of Moundsville, Wells is traveling to Bulgaria on Sept. 30 and is looking forward to competing in the World Arm Wrestling Competition where a total of 1,000 strong competitors are registered for bouts. He’ll be in Bulgaria for a total of 12 days, with the tournament action taking up 10 days.
Wells spends many hours a week maintaining his strength and preparing for his next match.
“I train three hours a day, seven days a week. I have to stay in a weight class, 85K (187 pound),” he said. He wrestles ambidextrously and has trimmed down a bit due to weight class requirements.
Arm wrestlers use chalk on the hands to avoid slipping during matches and there are specific table requirements that cover the area specs and mats. Length of matches vary but some go as long as three minutes — or longer.
“Of course, you want it to be short and I can tell you three minutes seems like forever,” he said.
Wells trains at a garage converted into a gym in Moundsville, used by the West Virginia Mountain Arms wrestling team. About five to seven guys workout there. Wells got into wrestling as an adult but played football in junior high school and was in a weight lifting club in the past.
Wells also works at Axial Chemicals (Westlake) as a site foreman in maintenance, where he’s been for about four years. So what brought him back to school?
“Arm wrestling got me back to college. I injured myself doing it and that inspired me to learn more about the body, injuries and recovery. I then decided to return to school and become a physical therapist and West Liberty University offers a great program in exercise physiology so it’s a good fit for me.”
“My employer has been very understanding and I work around my school duties,” he said.
“We are proud to have Tom as an exercise physiology student. I know that it is difficult to balance work, family, and school, but Tom has never let anything stop him from succeeding in class. I expect him to take the same mentality to his arm wrestling competition as well,” said Dr. Ryan Koenig, assistant professor and program director of Exercise Physiology.
Wells is married to alumna Michelle Helmic Wells, who is a special education teacher at John Marshall High School and the couple have a daughter, Jocelynne, 12, and twin boys, Zakk and Xavier, 8.
For more information on the exercise physiology program, which is part of the College of Education at WLU, please visit westliberty.edu/education or call Koenig, at 304-336-8505.