Almost the Wrestling State Champion

Almost the Wrestling State Champion

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Almost the Wrestling State Champion

 
     There he was, standing one step above me on the platform. He was wearing his maroon colored warm-ups and holding the bracket that the champion always wins. Over the school's announcement system I could hear the announcer saying, "In second place from Hotchkiss, Derek Blitz, and your champion at 103 pounds, from SoRoCo, Josh Deaver." I just stood there hanging my head wondering why he was getting the first place medal and I wasn't. After all, I had worked hard in practice, but in the end I couldn't pull off the win. Now I could only mope around knowing that I had almost won and continue replaying the match over and over again in my head.

     On Monday of the week before the tournament, I lost my varsity position in a close challange match. Once that happened, I started to go through the practices without any intensity. All week I was acting like I was practicing as hard as I could, but I was really only putting in enough effort to make sure we didn't have a harder conditioning than normal. Since I had lost my varsity position, I had it stuck in my head that there was no reason to practice very hard. After all, I was going to be wrestling on JV.

     On Friday, the coaches told us to be at the high school by 6:15 the next morning, so that we could make it to Paonia for weigh-ins at 7:00. The next morning I arrived at the high school by 6:00, and then I went into the locker room to make sure that I hadn't forgotten anything. By the time we arrived at Paonia, it was almost time for weigh-ins. A referee walked out into the gym and called all 103 pounders to the wrestling room. I walked up to the scale where two other refs were waiting to make sure no one had long nails or ring worm. Next, I proceeded to step on the scale to see if I would make weight. The ref, who was at the scale, then said, "102 pounds, step off." A huge feeling of relief swept over me, and I soon realized that I was going to give 110% to wrestling that day.

     At about 9:00, the tournament began and I was on the first open mat against the 103 pounder from Middle Park. I looked over my opponent and said to myself, "I am going to win this match.

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" By the time the match was over the score was 11 to 3, in my favor. At that time the only thing I could think of was that I was one step closer to winning the tournament. Two hours later, it was my turn to wrestle again. In this match I was wrestling a kid from Nucla whom I had beaten fairly decisively earlier in the season. I was losing most of the match, but in the last period I put him in a cradle and won the match 4 to 2. I had made it to the championship match, and I decided to look at the brackets to find out whom I was wrestling for first place. I recognized his name immediately, his name is Josh Deaver. The year before, I had watched him place third at the state tournament.

     The finals were set to start at 6:00 that night, so fifteen minutes before then I started my warm up routine for the match. I walked over to one of the walls and began stretching my arms, legs and neck. Once I finished stretching, I started to jog back and forth across the gym and nodded to everything people were saying to me. I was actually pushing all the noise in the gym out of my head and focusing on what moves I would be using in the match. For the last part of my warm-up, I started to do a shadow drill, where I practiced my moves without anyone there to actually wrestle against. At this point the only thing that was in my mind was the words, "I am going to win this tournament." Then, out of nowhere, I heard the announcer say, "Derek Blitz from Hotchkiss and Josh Deaver from SoRoCo, report to mat one."

     As I walked out onto the mat, I kept looking over my opponent and continually deciding how likely it was for me to win. By the time I reached the center of the mat, I had decided that I had just as good of a chance to win as he did, so I put that out of my mind and picked up the red ankle bracelet and fastened it around my ankle. Josh and I then shook hands and waited for the high pitched "tweet" of the whistle. We both were testing each other, trying to get the other to make a mistake, and I finally shot in on a single leg take down, but we ended up out of bounds. He took the next shot and brought me down, but I worked my way off the mat and escaped from him right as the first period ended. The referee took out a red and green "coin" and flipped it to see who would get the choice of position at the beginning of the period. When the coin landed on the mat it revealed that it was my choice, and I deferred to the next period. Josh said that he would take the bottom position, so the ref made sure we were ready and proceeded to start the second period. I didn't let him get up, but I didn't get him in a pinning combination for points either. Before the third period, I told the referee that I wanted to take the bottom position. Half way through the period, I was able to get up off the mat and tie the match. However, that's all I was able to do and the match went into overtime.

     In the first period of overtime, Josh was failing to react as fast and wasn't protecting his legs as much. Looking at him in his weakened condition, I couldn't help but think that I was going to win. I attempted for a takedown, but without any success. Every time that I shot in on him, he was able to get out of bounds before I could bring him down to the mat. Now we were going into double overtime, a thirty-second period where I had to keep him down or he would win. In the middle of the period, the ref warned Josh for not trying to escape and if it happened again, I would win. I only had to hold him down for fifteen more seconds, but with the warning, Josh also gained more confidence and started to stand up. It felt as if I had no strength in my arms and he managed to escape and win the match. I stood there looking in disbelief, I couldn't have just lost in double overtime, but I had.

     One month later, I was watching the state championships in Denver, and there was Josh. He was standing a step above everyone else holding the tournament bracket and the first place medal he had won. Through the Pepsi Center's speakers boomed the announcer's voice saying, "And your 2002 state champion at 103 pounds, from SoRoCo, Josh Deaver." I sat there shaking my head and telling myself that I lost to the state champion by one point in double overtime. At that moment I realized that no one in the state is that much better than me, but that I needed to work just a little harder and longer for me to be able to go to state and possibly take it. Unfortunately, for the moment I could only watch and wonder why he was getting the first place medal and I hadn't even received the chance to earn it.
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