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home : columns : columns May 25, 2016

3/6/2013 9:39:00 AM
You see a little of everything at State

Joel Alvstad
Sports Editor

When you cover sports for as long as I have, you seem to think that you've seen just about everything there is to see.
But Friday I saw something that I admittedly had never seen before, and it's something that really could only happen at the State Wrestling Tournament.
One thing that I typically do when I go up to state is I'll see if there are any other papers who need a couple of pictures. And I'll also check with my uncle, the editor of the Grant County Herald, to see if he'd like me to get pictures of the kids from the school he covers.
One of those kids, a 195-pound sophomore, made it to the state tournament. What is interesting is this kid was a first-year wrestler - he had never been out for the sport before. But apparently, the kid is a nationally-ranked power lifter for his age. He saw wrestling as the perfect chance to continue weightlifting and to stay in shape for the sport he loves, football.
Watching this kid's first-round match, it was pretty clear he had never been to the state meet before. Before, during and even after his match, he had a big smile on his face. For you WWE fans out there, he looked like a dead ringer for John Cena. And throughout his match, at any break in the action, he was looking around at the capacity crowd at the Xcel Energy Center.
Without a doubt, the kid was soaking up the experience of wrestling on the state's biggest stage.
The kid wound up losing 3-1 when he gave up a takedown with three seconds left on the clock. Despite the loss, you couldn't wipe the smile off the kid's face.
But when I started to make my way back to the media room a few minutes later, I saw this kid in an animated conversation followed by a few good laughs. He was talking to the opponent who had just defeated him in the last seconds. They were both thoroughly enjoying the conversation.
As I came closer, I could overhear a little bit of the conversation they were having. They were talking strategy. The opposing wrestler told the newcomer, "Well, when you tried (this move), I tried to counter with (another move). Finally, I saw (a different move) was open so I went for it."
I was really struck by the whole scene. First off, how many times in a demanding sport like wrestling will someone seek out the person they had just lost to, just to get a few pointers? Most often, the person taking the tough loss will try to blow off steam or blow off some emotion.
And how often will that opponent actually oblige by giving those pointers?
Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm guessing such instances are pretty rare, which is why I found it so cool to see.
There are a couple of lessons to be learned from this. First, there's a lot of value in just giving something a try. You may discover a talent you never knew you had. So to Hunter Fick of West Central Area-Ashby-Evansville, my hat is off to you. Stick with it, learn from your experience and become great from it.
And second, being a good sport and a good person can go a long way. So to Colton Laymon of the West Marshall wrestling team, I commend you for the class and grace you showed by taking a younger wrestler you had just defeated under your wing. I wish there were more athletes out there like you. Your parents and your coaches should be very proud of the young man you clearly have become.
Turning the page
Now we're down to just two winter sports teams remaining. Hopefully the MLA and RRC boys basketball teams can pick up a couple more wins to continue their seasons for another week.
Either way, the calendar waits for no team. Hard to believe, but on Monday the start of the spring sports season arrives with the opening practices for fastpitch softball and track and field.
Taking a quick scan of the area in both sports, it could be an interesting spring. The Windom fastpitch team will look to fill a couple of holes left by graduation and will have a new coach heading the program. Jess Smith takes over for Paul Vesey, who resigned at the end of last year.
The MLA program will also look to fill some key holes, but returns quite a bit of talent and depth. And RRC/WWG will look to fill a couple of key spots in the field and at the plate.
The local track scene looks to be ready for a very interesting season. Windom has quite a bit of talent back, but will have to find athletes who can make up for the losses of major points lost to graduation.
MLA has some serious potential with the pairing between Mt. Lake Public and Mt. Lake Christian. The Wolverines could be a very dangerous squad this year.
And there will be an intriguing development on the horizon, as plans are coming together for a massive pairing between Westbrook-Walnut Grove, Red Rock Central and Wabasso. I'm trying to get all the details of the pairing, but it sounds like the teams will do some drills at their own schools and will come together, periodically, for full-team workouts.

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