The end of the
Instead of playing a game and leaving an hour later like a normal sport, the 2012 OSAA State Wrestling Tournament asks more from it's athletes. Like basic scouting skills. They need to be prepared to compete and BE PREPARED for any problems.
The walkway around the Coliseum bowl looks like the Oregon Country Fair in some places, a Mad Max set in others. The Marines built a workout station; a line of boys wait for the chin-up bar. The National Wrestling Hall of Fame show plaques for
Mixing in the walkway rush are guys right off the mats in their wrestling warm-ups, their school colors. It's a uniform of pride.
Pinched-faced guys, beat up guys, a group of young men sharing the same recent experience mingle in the crowd. They walk the glass walls of the Coliseum in a daze with the
Win or lose, it's their time.
Inside the bowl the scene resembles an Occupy Wrestling camp. People hunker down in clumps of family and school. One tough guy shares a moment in the stands, hugging his grandpa and his dad. When he leaves, the two men hug it out. Wrestling does that, brings families together. None of the men looked like huggers, either. Bear-huggers, yes, but huggers from the heart, too.
With twelve mats of wrestlers and referees flying around at once, cheers erupt from every section of the Coliseum bowl. Wrestling crowds don't roar as one, just when their guys come up.
Kids down on the mats can't hear much, but the rest of the audience feel the small cheers. It's the same as their cheer, coming from a place other sports find impossible to access. Waves of clustered emotions rise and fall, circling the arena over sleeping bags and food.
A voice from the gods cuts through every distraction with ominous match announcements, "One hundred and eighty two pounders, your time is coming." They find their mat, wrestle, then take another nap, a snack, then another nap.
After years of wrestling trips, some sports fans never return to a big tournament. They've done their time and this is the end, but memories from 2012 will stay fresh:
- arms that look like they have two elbows.
- guys racing on the mat to wrap their ankle colors and take their spot first, then making every psych-move possible before the first whistle.
- the guy who ran the Wrestling Mile, four laps on the sides of his shoes before scoring off a front headlock, looking like Curley from the Three Stooges spinning on his shoulder.
- a cradle stretch where two guys must have five shoes on because people don't bend enough for one foot to stick up like it is.
More important than an event, the Oregon State High School Wrestling Championships reaffirm the bedrock foundation of sports and sports fans. If you scan a program for returning champs you find their teammates ranked high in weight classes near them. It's a good sign.
The lesson? Working with better guys makes you better. Take that idea to college and you won't need to call Helicopter-Parent to the rescue.
The bigger lesson? Hang out with decent people and be decent. Be responsible for your actions. That's all sport asks.
The last school sanctioned matches make way for the Olympic Style wrestling season. Winning state titles in folk style, Greco-Roman, and freestyle the same year earns the distinction of winning
The OSU Cowboys and
The state of
The state of
Fans everywhere agree that
No school in the world can lay that claim, and no school is closer to Nike. Seeing the Swoosh as a major sponsor for high school wrestling brings
I fear that wrestling is too rugged, too real, too honest for the current athletic department at U of O. Just look at how the image of the university itself has swayed in the past 10 years. It has got from Tracktown and Keasey to "how many combinations of uniforms can the Ducks wear?" Despite the recent success of their track athletes, all we hear about is Chip Kelley. Track, like wrestling, is one on one. If you are not as good as the other guy, it shows. I was a poor rival to Scott Glenn and Glenn Jarrett 20 years ago, back when the Ducks were tough, not flashy. Those guys were hard in a way that the current Duck athletic program so desperately needs, if only to bring a little substance to all the flash.
It would be nice if someone at Nike would champion this cause but it was" Phil Knight's" athletic director that was responsible for wrestlings demise at the university.