Trading a feather and a cap for a crown
By MARK HUBER
Wilmington News Journal
Sports brings about many emotions. Passionate athletes competing at a high level stir the heart and soul of teammates, coaches and fans alike.
High school wrestling is well-known to elicit emotional outbursts unlike many other competitions.
There may not be as many fans at a high school wrestling match as there is at a football game, but the ones who show up are extremely connected to their team, or individual athlete.
When the Ohio High School Athletic Association decided to sponsor a state team wrestling tournament, it added a new dimension to those who participate in the sport.
Sure, every athlete wants to do well which in turn helps his or her team.
But when a team is competing in a one-and-done tournament format, the emotion is ratcheted up a notch or two.
It was evident Wednesday night at Blanchester High School that every fan, wrestler and coach in the gym were ramped up a bit, whether they were pulling for visiting Deer Park or the home team BlanchesterWildcats.
Every ankle pick, every headlock, every injury timeout had a bearing on the individual match as well as the team result.
It was no longer every wrestler for him or herself.
Losing by a simple decision was much better than losing by tech fall or, worse yet, a pin.
Each point meant something for the next wrestler who went on the mat.
Each point meant something for the wrestlers whose blood, sweat and tears formed the foundation of a proud program started some 40 years ago.
Each point was a step toward history, a step toward a goal that was no more part of the Wildcat wrestling landscape a couple months ago than the upcoming senior prom.
Yet as the state team tournament unfolded over the last few weeks, the wrestlers and coaches started to realize a dream was within their grasp, a dream that would take each one of them to historic St. John Arena on the Ohio State University campus Saturday afternoon.
A place in the Division III Elite Eight is a feather in a cap already full of them. There is a spot or two for more.
Come Saturday night, the Wildcats may exchange that cap for a crown, a crown that calls them STATE CHAMPIONS.