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Ex-football coach convicted of battery

By Staff | Mar 13, 2015

RANSON – A world champion arm wrestler and former Jefferson County Youth Football League coach accused of sucker punching the league’s president in 2013 was convicted of battering the league official last week following a jury trial in Jefferson County Magistrate Court.

According to court records, a jury of six found Travis Bagent, 38, of Beltline Avenue, Ranson, guilty last Wednesday of one misdemeanor count of battery of an athletic official in connection with the Sept. 14, 2013, incident.

Bagent, an eight-time world-champion arm wrestler, faces up to 12 months in jail as a result of the conviction. Jefferson County Magistrate William E. Senseney presided over the jury trial. A sentencing hearing hasn’t been scheduled yet in the case.

The case was prosecuted by Jefferson County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Neil Zahradnik. Bagent was represented by Martinsburg attorney Craig Manford.

Following the incident at Marcus Field, Bagent was barred from having any contact with any child at the football field or the league’s then-president James “Jimmy” Pierson, who also co-founded the league in 1989.

According to court records, police responded to the football field at about 6:10 p.m. on the night of the incident for a report of battery. A few people were found tending to Pierson, who was on the floor suffering from an abrasion on his stomach after he said he was punched once by Bagent in the lower ribs. Medics subsequently arrived at the scene and transported Pierson, who was 61 years old at the time, to Jefferson Medical Center, where he was treated and released after complaining of nausea and having the wind knocked out of him.

A witness told police that Pierson was called to the field because of a complaint about Bagent’s behavior. Bagent was the coach of the Razorbacks, a team consisting of 7- and 8-year-old children. The witness said Bagent and Pierson were talking in the trophy room about a game that had just finished.

The witness said he heard Pierson tell Bagent that he was finished with the league because of his behavior. After Bagent was told to leave and not to come back, the witness said he saw the coach strike Pierson.

Pierson, who fell to his knees, told the witness to call police, because he wanted Bagent arrested, records show.

A member of the coaching staff of the Spartans, the team that had just played the Razorbacks, told police he asked Bagent to “show some sportsmanship for the kids,” but Bagent allegedly pushed the opposing coach and started cursing at him, records show.

Pierson told police at the hospital that he got a call about Bagent “acting up,” records show.

Pierson said he received complaints about Bagent cursing on the sidelines and that a cheerleader from one of the teams was afraid of the coach. Pierson told police the punch caught him off guard and knocked the wind out of him, records show.

Bagent allegedly denied touching or hitting Pierson when questioned by police. He alleged that Pierson came at him and fell to the ground. Bagent was also questioned about the alleged coach-shoving incident that preceded the alleged battery.

Bagent allegedly told police that the two teams were shaking hands on the field when the opposing coach came up to him and put his hand on his arm. Bagent said he nudged the other coach’s arm off, stating that it “wasn’t really a push,” records show.

He told police he wanted to file charges against Pierson for “coming at him the way he did” while inside the trophy room. When Bagent was told about the injury observed on Pierson’s stomach, the accused coach said that Pierson must have hit it when he fell, records show.

Before becoming a professional arm wrestler, Bagent was a three-sport star for Jefferson High School, playing baseball, basketball and football. He pitched for Shepherd University’s baseball team from 1996 to 1999.