Sunday, March 22, 2009

Wrestling, Wrassling and Wringing-Wet Finishes

As a proud fan since US Grant High School of high school wrestling, I once again got to go to the Big Show, the Grand Grapple, the Tangle Tourney of Takedowns in the Okie state. If you’ve never been, it’s quite the extravaganza!

The four classes (6A, 5A, 4A and 3A) are all going on at the same time on the four-mat floor of the State Fair arena. The burden is on YOU to multi-task, watch four matches going on simultaneously on the four mats.

No blaring hard rock music, no big screens with videos, no fireworks – just announcements going constantly with introductions (break – gone to get nachos) and stories about the individual wrestlers. The crowd is made up of Catoosaites, Maroons from Perry, Noble fans, Altus rooters and Bixby backers.

The tenacity, focus and desire of these state champions is amazing. Some of these guys are one-, two- and three-time winners. (Break – gone to get a foot-long polish sausage and coke.) They train, pull weight, run, work on technique and wrestle all the time. By doing this by weight, they wrestle the same people in matches, tourneys, and the state finale. 

Wrestlers grow to respect each other, and even become roommates. No wild costumes, no crazy names, no heavy metal rock theme songs, and no hitting or slamming chairs. (Break – got to get some Dippin’ Dots, the “Ice Cream of the Future” – for 30 years now.)

Wrestling teaches self-discipline and goal setting, and results in a college scholarship for some. It’s a unique sport that is an individual sport and a team sport to score points. It may be even the launching pad for a future Olympic champion – they’re the last group of American Gladiators without being on a film-edited reality television show. If you get the chance next year, take it in, but watch out for flying chairs! 

I hope you get to go with a couple of old friends like I did – Larry, who I can’t ever remember not knowing (speaking of wrestling, he and I tore up our third-grade class when the teacher was out of the room in a grade-school melee) and Randy, my buddy who was a wrestling coach – which in itself speaks to his insanity. Three compadres for 50 years, enjoying a sporting event: Priceless (well, the food we consumed cost two arms and a leg).

Now that wrestling is out of the way, on to “March Madness”!

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