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Remembering Mr. Brian Bealer, tournament-style

by Jim Davidheiser, freelance contributor for The Boyertown Area Times

Posted on November 25, 2009

Some will remember him as the "gentle not-so-giant."

As a wrestler at Boyertown High in the late 1970s, Brian Bealer was one of the earliest local grapplers to qualify for the prestigious PIAA State Tournament.

In terms of his sports and non-sports demeanors, he was a first-class gentleman and the consummate square-shooter.

Wrestling in the heavyweight class for the Bears, Mr. Bealer was a "light-heavy," tipping the scales at probably 210 or 215 pounds.

But he compensated for his sometimes-weight disadvantage with technique and finesse, his 27-4-2 senior campaign and his 50-21-3 career record testament to his mat prowess.

In his final season (1978-79), he out-finessed Pottstown's Jeff Green in a classic Southeast Regional-AAA finale. (Mr. Green was taller and heavier and arguably the better wrestler.) That victory translated into Mr. Bealer's ticket to the state tourney in Hershey.

When all was said and done, this Boyertown mat phenom was named Most Valuable Player by his Bear coaches and teammates.

And in 1995, he was inducted into the Boyertown Wrestling Hall of Fame. At that time, Mr. Bealer was one of only 12 individuals to have been selected for Hall of Fame recognition.

In April 2004, a sewer trench collapse claimed the life of Brian Bealer, and the greater Boyertown community mourned the loss of an extraordinary husband, son and father, a civic contributor, a business colleague, a special friend.

Now, half a decade later, the Boyertown Area Wrestling Association, its membership a mix of mat old-timers and relative youngsters to the Bear wrestling tradition, has decided to re-name its respected December tournament.

The "Brian Bealer Memorial Bear Duals" tournament on Saturday, Dec. 12 will be a showcase event, what with no less than 10 outstanding high school squads in competition ... and with Mr. Bealer's name serving as the marquee-pronouncement.

With an authentic modesty, his widow, Diane Bealer, and children Kate and Steve Bealer are "honored" by the BAWA/Bear Duals decision.

In truth, it is the BAWA membership and the tournament committee who are truly privileged to add Mr. Bealer's name to their mat festival.

The 2009 version of the Brian Bealer Memorial Bear Duals will be staged in both the Bear and Cub gymnasiums at Boyertown High.

The Dec. 12 team lineup will include the host Bears along with Governor Mifflin, Big Spring, Owen J. Roberts, Council Rock North, St. Mark's (Delaware), Bethlehem Liberty, Upper Moreland, Unionville and Springfield (Delco).

The day will entail six rounds of wrestling, beginning at 9 a.m. and concluding at approximately 8 p.m. And in addition to the huge varsity competition, a round-robin-style junior varsity tournament will also be a part of the schedule.

An estimated 300 scholastic wrestlers will be participating, and some 1,000 coaches, relatives and spectators are anticipated.

While a great majority of those in attendance probably never had the opportunity to meet Brian Bealer, they will hear his name and learn at least a smidgen about his local legacy.

Mr. Bealer, albeit in a posthumous fashion, is most-deserving of the acknowledgment.

Jim Davidheiser is a freelance contributor to Berks-Mont Newspapers; contact him at 610-367-5215 or at jhdcom@comcast.net.

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