And so, another dual meet season comes to an end not with a bang nor with a whimper. It is true that we are a far different team than the squad that began the season with a winning effort at the Ritchie County Tournament.
At that event we filled 12 out of the 14 weights, and despite the lack of experience there were some very promising wrestlers on the mats. This week, at our lowest point, we put six wrestlers on the mat. It felt like we were at the Battle of Little Big Horn and we weren't the Indians! Still, even though we were unable to compete against the big squads, we did do a credible job against squads our size, and slightly larger.
We went to Grafton needing at least one team victory to preserve a winning season (We have not had a loosing season in the past six years). The kids were determined to do their best to keep that intact, and with a lot of effort we won two matches and thus ended the season with nine wins against six losses.
We beat the X-team that is made up of the top reserve wrestlers from each participating team. They replaced Wheeling Central Catholic, which failed to show up. Actually, it was a harder match than Central would have been. Central has only four wrestlers while the X-team filled eleven weights.
We then beat Clay-Battelle by criteria after the score was tied. That means you go to the number of pins, the number of wins in matches actually wrestled, and on and on until you have a winner. That team is awarded one extra team point. Hence, though the score was tied at 30, we ended up winning 31-30.
And then there was the Bridgeport match. We coaches are constantly faced with the task of trying to correct the mistakes our wrestlers are making but from time to time we make a mistake as well.
Against Bridgeport we had juggled our line-up to get the best match-ups possible. It worked really well as the boys we moved up scored pins. Cullen Grover is nursing a minor injury from last week, and we were using him sparingly during the day.
When it came time for his match we had the score figured that we would win 34 30 without him having to wrestle. So, even though we were sure he could win, we forfeited his match, only to learn moments later, that our figuring had been wrong, and we ended up loosing 36 34. In the 2000 Presidential debate, George Bush called Al Gore's economic calculations "fuzzy math." I think the term fits our erroneous reckoning as well. As the head coach I am obliged to take full responsibility for the mistake, however, let me say for the record, I have an assistant coach that probably should have made a better effort to stay awake during math class in high school!!! Oh well, we all ended up having a good laugh about it. After all, a win or loss is soon forgotten, but a good story lives forever.
By the way anyone searching for the restrooms at the Grafton Tournament need only have asked Coach McKeever for directions. He knew the way to both the men's AND the ladies room. Ask him about it.
How about we get to the Wrestler of the Week. For the Grafton Tournament the Silver and Black wrestler who really stood out was Nate Taylor who went undefeated. Nate had a 10-0 major decision, two forfeits, and falls of 5:04 and 41 seconds. He looked good and he wrestled with confidence.
Wednesday's quad had only six or seven Knight's wrestlers, so there weren't many to chose from. Again, Nate Taylor had a great night, winning all three matches, but this time I am going to go with a group my seniors. The three of them wrestled exceptionally well at the quad. Collectively they had five wins against two losses. And so my pick is Cullen Grover, Dustin Phillips, and Nick Robinson. Congratulations to all of you.
Yes, last Wednesday was Senior Night and Parent recognition. It is always hard to see this group of athletes and their families leave us. It may be a bit extensive, but I am going to repeat here what I wrote about them for their special night.
Dustin Phillips: Dustin is the son of Mr. And Mrs. Gary Phillips. Dustin was in our Middle School program in eighth grade. After moving away for a year Dustin rejoined us in his sophomore year. For a couple years Dustin had a hard time cracking the line-up on account of the wealth of talent in his weight class, but now he has firmly entrenched himself in the 135 pound division. Dustin is what we call a 'flurry wrestler'. Just when it seems that he has spent his energy he will explode and hit one move after another. It is a hard style to compete against. We wish Dustin well for the rest of the season and are happy to have him in our line-up.
Nick Robinson: Nick is the son of Mr. And Mrs. David Robinson. Nick is one of the great success stories of our program. When he broke into the sport of wrestling in seventh grade Nick was, well, less than impressive. He went a long stretch without winning a single match. But Nick persisted where those of a lesser spirit would have given up. In his sophomore year Nick finally won a couple JV matches. In his junior year he got even better and approached a .500 season. And now, in his senior year, Nick has a winning record and is one of the squad that we depend on. Nick has to be the most improved wrestlers we have ever had. That, and his pleasant manner and excellent work ethic have made Nick Robinson a real pleasure to have on the team. We will miss him next year.
Cullen Grover: Cullen is the son of Mr. And Mrs. Jon Grover. If there were such a thing as a completely well rounded wrestler it would have to be Cullen Grover. Cullen is a letter winner in three sports, and has been to post-season competition in each of them. He was a state place-winner in both wrestling and track last year, and is a two-year LKC champion in wrestling. Cullen also excels in academics, being named as a National Merit Scholar finalist this year. He is living proof that athletics and academics can go hand in hand. He leads the team by example through his unselfish contributions and his dedication to the program. He is extremely coachable, and always willing to sublimate self-interests for the good of the team. It has been a pleasure to have Cullen on our squad, and we look forward to hearing about great things from him in the future.
To all our seniors and their parents: farewell. You have etched your images upon our memory and we welcome you back at any time.
You are now a permanent part of the TCHS extended wrestling family.
I have a couple other things I had intended to talk about, but I think they will have to wait. This epistle is growing far too long. I really hope you can drop in for some of the Regional competition this Saturday.
It is the first time ever that Tyler Consolidated has hosted the event. It was not easy getting to host it, but now that we have it there are a number of people who have dedicated themselves to making it the best Regional Tournament ever. Check it out.
Until then, breath deeply, cheer loudly, live healthy, and enjoy the valentines candy which that someone special gave you or that you gave to yourself, no difference! And, as usual, "wrestle for fun."