Sunday, December 10, 2006

Competition

In terms of the Michigan wrestling calendar, the state is divided by when competition begins, where some schools wait until the third weekend, and other teams get after it as soon as the third Thursday of the season; our squad was in the latter category, and we were eager to see how our preparations would be borne out. Perhaps just as importantly, the wrestlers tire of practicing against the same people day after day, and they really require the competition to refocus their level of interest, and heighten their competitiveness.

Our first meet was a triangular against both a familiar and an unfamiliar opponent. Our wrestling team is missing several weight classes, so we were down 18 points at the outset of both matches due to forfeits, but I like tri-meets because they give our kids a chance to wrestle twice on a weeknight while only using one of our sixteen weigh-ins. On the weekend we travelled to a dual meet invitational, which is always a relief to wrestling coaches, as they seem to run more smoothly and quickly than regular invitationals. Thursday's results saw us with one win and one loss, and Saturday saw us pick up four more wins and another loss, to take second place and the runner-up trophy.

The second week saw our wrestling competition jump a number of levels in difficulty, where we travelled to wrestle the number one team in our division on Thursday. We re-matched with them again on Saturday, along with the number one team in the state's biggest division, in addition to a number of other competitive teams. Our final results reflected the level change, but of course, I don't think the results tell the entire story. While we only had two kids out of eleven place at the tournament, the coaching staff was encouraged because we were one match from placing in two other weight classes. Most importantly, though, both of the kids that did place wrestled above their level of seeding, which indicates to me that we have been preparing (at least some of) them properly. In other words: in the pre-meet meeting, all of the coaches gather to discuss their wrestlers' relative merits, and place the athletes in a hierarchy. This hierarchy, or seeding, in theory, helps allow the better wrestlers to advance the furthest in the tournament. One of our kids was seeded seventh, and the other was unseeded, and both wrestled well enough to place sixth.

This approaching week finds us hosting two events: a dual meet on Thursday, and an invitational on Saturday. Character is revealed when wrestling at home, as wrestling is unique in that events are completely set up by the participants; no lawns to be mowed, no chalk to be striped, no sprinkler heads to be checked. Wrestling coaching staffs need to count on the athletes to assist in organizing, assembling, and disassembling the entire facility, and wrestling mats can be quite cumbersome and heavy to move.