Longtime wrestling referee hangs up his whistle

Preps: Bruce Osborne clarified rules on judgment calls when it comes to protests

of the HeraldMarch 12, 2014 

Bruce Osborne of Puyallup has been a high school wrestling official for the past 50 years, and he’s been the head official at the Mat Classic state tournament since 2008.

Now he’s decided to retire, even though 71-year-old didn’t envision being a wrestling official for five decades.

“There wasn’t any thought at all of continuing to do it forever,” he said. “Once I got started (in 1964), I got hooked and could never stop.”

Osborne was appointed as head official at Mat Classic XX by former WIAA assistant Executive Director Jim Meyerhoff.

“There are several reasons why I decided this year would be my last,” Osborne said. “Jim Meyerhoff announced at Mat Classic XXV that 2014 would be his last season, and he was going to retire. Jim was 16 and wrestling for Puyallup High School when I was in my first year of teaching when I was 22 years old. I thought, if he’s retiring, that is a wakeup call for me to do it, too.”

Osborne said he had to tell himself every day that this season would be his last.

“Every single morning, I told myself that,” he said. “I enjoyed the heck out of every outing that I had. It’s been a privilege to do it. I have done the best job I can do.”

Osborne said his first season as head official at the Mat Classic presented unique challenges.

“The first Friday of the first state tournament, there were 23 protests,” he said. “There is a difference between missed applications and judgment calls. You can’t protest a judgment call, whether it’s right or wrong.

“In everyone one of those 23 protests, it was a judgment call,” he said. “That Friday night, I was up until 2 a.m. on Saturday morning, writing out a form about identifying judgment calls versus missed applications.”

The form he wrote that night is now used at regional tournaments statewide.

“That is one of the things I felt really gratified about,” Osborne said. “It saved officials a lot of headaches over the years as well. This year, there was not even one protest.”

Osborne said the officials who work the Mat Classic bring a wealth of knowledge to the mat.

“These guys are the cream of the crop,” he said. “Every one of them has earned their way to the state tournament. This is an outstanding crew of officials. They worked hard for it.”

Osborne said he’s looking forward to spending more time with his wife, Ingrid, and traveling the world. The couple has visited 46 of 50 states.

“We have never been able to travel October through April before,” he said. “That six-month span has been dedicated to wrestling for 50 years. We have a ton of snowbirds that we know in Arizona that have invited us to come down and see them, and maybe we will take them up on some of those invitations.”

Osborne also said he used to play guitar really well.

“I haven’t touched it for years and am going to see if I can get familiar with that again,” he said. “I have been driving for the Freezing Nights program and will continue to do that.

“We have never been ones to be bored,” he added. “I know we won’t be bored.”

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