I never covered wrestling before moving to Alabama a lifetime ago, and I count the sport among the happiest broadenings of my horizons.
Years now of covering the AHSAA state tournament and getting a feel for the training and mindset involved, I have quite a respect for those who choose it.
It requires the discipline and training to make weight, but it also requires a mental toughness unlike that of many other sports. Competitors go mano-a-mano in a test of will and skill among two human beings. There’s a winner, loser and no one else to blame.
The contrast in emotions immediately following a meaningful match has no match. It brings a special brand of exhilaration vs. devastation that no headgear can hide.
I’ll never forget how inconsolable Wellborn’s Dalton Carroll was after coming one victory short of its fifth state title.
I’ll never forget former Oxford star Jordan Simpson, talking about his mental exhaustion and readiness to give up the sport immediately after winning his fourth.
He relented and competed in college, but the investment required is amazing.
With that in mind, here’s congrats to the champions from this past weekend. Congrats to Weaver’s Nick Souder and Chase Rodgers. Congrats to Alexandria’s Christian Knop. Souder won his second.
Congrats to Cleburne County’s Tyler Mayfield, Wellborn’s Kane Pitts, Ohatchee’s Caleb Montgomery and Alexandria’s Lane Trapp for runner-up finishes. Special congrats to Mayfield for his comeback from a knee injury that claimed his football season.
Congrats to all who made wrestling a sport that has brought 16 team state titles back to Calhoun County over the years, nine by Weaver. Congrats to those who brought back many individual titles.
Congrats, and much respect.