The 2016-17 high school winter sports season kicked off its first athletic contests this past week not only on Mercer Island, but across the entire Washington region.
The Mercer Islander wrestling team, which captured second place in the Class 3A KingCo regular season standings during the 2015-16 season, will face the Sammamish Totems at 7 p.m. on Dec. 8 in Bellevue in their second dual match of the season.
This matchup on the mat is something I’ve had circled on my calendar since late November.
Wrestling isn’t the flashiest sport in the world but it’s without a doubt my favorite sport of all to cover. In my opinion, the top yearly event of the entire year is the Mat Classic state wrestling tournament, which takes place annually in mid-February at the Tacoma Dome.
Wrestling is a sport about sacrifice. There isn’t typically a lot of fanfare for the sport and the bleachers at most dual matches are usually not filled to capacity — but that doesn’t matter to those grapplers on the mat.
Wrestling is one of those sports that tests an individual’s intestinal fortitude to the max. When a wrestler is on the mat, they are all alone. It’s simply that individual against their opponent.
Coaches and teammates can shout words of encouragement/instructions from the edges of the mat, but the fact remains a wrestler is all by themselves inside the circle.
All the preparation they’ve put forth will or will not show up during the six-minute match and possible overtime sessions.
In order for someone to be a proficient wrestler they must be disciplined, exude physical toughness, mental toughness and be committed to the sport.
Wrestling simply builds character and is one of the most physically taxing sports someone will ever take part in. Instead of a can of soda, a wrestler will reach for a bottled water.
Instead of a double cheeseburger, a grappler will instead devour a salad. Instead of sleeping in on Saturday mornings like their buddies, a wrestler will go for a two-mile jog to ensure there is no drop-off in physical fitness.
These lessons grapplers learn while partaking in wrestling will stick with them for the rest of their lives. It doesn’t get any better than that!