Inside the Newsroom

News, commentary, insight on local happenings and fun from the staff of The Saline Reporter and Milan News-Leader.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Individual wrestling takes teamwork, too

I attended the individual wrestling regional tournament in Warren on Saturday where three Milan wrestlers qualified to advance to the state finals March 6-8 at The Palace of Auburn Hills. David Box became Milan's first heavyweight regional champion and state qualifier. Dan Vivian at 125-lb and Jacob Nelson at 160-lb each finished fourth.

As far as I can tell from MHSAA archives, this is the first time in at least a decade that three Milan wrestlers have made it to state. We've had two make it before, but it looks like three is a first. I think it's the start of a trend because all three of these guys are juniors and there are a number of talented young wrestlers coming up behind them.

On Saturday, it occurred to me that there is a myth surrounding wrestling, particularly at the individual tournaments. The true part of the myth is that when a wrestler is on the mat he is on his own (with the help of some shouted coaching from two chairs at the corner, of course). Each wrestler ultimately determines his own fate. There is no one they can turn to for assistance; no one they can depend on to have their back if they slip up. There is not another teammate who can pick them up and save the team. It is all on the individual wrestler. They do it on their own.

That part is true. Here's what's not true: They do it on their own. As I witnessed on Saturday, there actually is some teamwork involved in the individual tournaments. Or maybe it would be more appropriate to call it "familywork." The Milan contingent of friends and family had secured a table overlooking the mats and had food, water, Gatorade, changes of clothes. You name it. They were there for the their wrestlers. Make no mistake, it was a long day -- began at 10 a.m. and didn't wrap up until after 6 p.m. I can't imagine any wrestler doing well on the mat without that kind of support. It's hard to wrestle well when there is no one cheering for you; when there is no one afterwards to pat you on the shoulder, hand you some water. The Milan wrestlers didn't have to worry about that.

State-quality individual wrestling performances demand the best a wrestler has on the mat. They also demand a strong support network. You know, almost like a team.

The Palace of Auburn Hills, here we come!

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