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You hear it often, that wrestling is an individual sport.
Yes, I get it. A wrestler is out there all alone, with the spectators either cheering him or laughing because he got twisted into an extreme yoga position by an 126-pound opponent with an Arnold Schwarzenegger body.
Whatever happens, a wrestler probably is going to hear about it at school because the crowd included his girlfriend, his math teacher and that kid in science class who simply hates his guts for no reason.
Consider the plight of Edgewood 285-pounder Logan Staley, who was facing Columbus North heavyweight Kenny King on Saturday with the winner deciding the entire match. King pinned Staley in the second period to give North the 39-32 victory.
King was given a hero’s welcome by his teammates, while Staley had to slowly climb to his feet and make that lonely, defeated walk back to the locker room. It can be tough to shoulder such a load.
At times it even hurts, and not because of anything that took place during the match. I’ve seen the losing wrestler in such situations, with the entire match decided on the final bout, stomped by the onrushing student body that surges to celebrate with the winner.
High school wrestling can be a scary world.
But after a tip of the cap to all that individual responsibility and the resolve to deal with it, it must be acknowledged that wrestling also is a team sport. That will be very apparent tonight at 7 p.m. when Jennings County hosts Columbus North.
Neither Jennings County nor North will have a state individual champion this season. OK, it’s not right to put limits on any kid. Let’s just say it’s not very likely.
What you will be watching tonight will be two very solid programs with a whole lot of local pride at stake.
And since we won’t be watching the state’s No. 1 145-pounder wrestle the No. 2-ranked kid, it’s mostly going to be about team pride.
That means that the hero might not be the guy who registers the pin. It might be about the big underdog who fights the pin for six minutes and only loses 7-0. In a match, if a wrestler loses by seven or less points, three team points are awarded to the winner. If a wrestler wins his match by eight to 14 points, his team earns four points. A wrestler who wins by technical fall (a 15-point or more advantage), gets six points, the same as a pin, default or forfeit win.
It’s easy to see that a pin is the same as two decision victories. The ability of a wrestler to fight the pin despite being fed to a lion might ultimately sway the outcome of the entire match.
Tonight’s hero could be a kid who loses, gets beaten-up every period, yet refuses to be pinned. That’s sacrifice, and it’s all about team.
Jennings County (7-0 in dual matches) will be hard-pressed in the lower weights to deal with North triplets Evan (113), Cody (120) and Will (126) Speaker. The Hunter Ray-Evan Speaker match at 113 will be a tough one, but Panthers Chase Roll (120) and Jagur Marshall (126) might be in tough.
A highlight of the night should be the 152-pound match between North’s Andrew Jones and Jennings County’s Colton Pifer. Panthers sophomore Peyton Shepherd will have his hands full with talented North senior Luke Teague at 182.
At 220, Jennings County’s Colton Castetter looks like a wrestler who can accomplish something special at tournament time, but he will be put to the test by North’s Brandon Woods, who just went 4-1 in the North Invitational on Saturday with his only loss, 4-3, to New Palestine’s Noah Grable. North is 12-8 in dual meets.
If you haven’t checked out area wrestling for a while, tonight’s match would be a time to get back into it.
Win or lose, I know a lot of wrestlers who would appreciate a full gym.
Jay Heater is The Republic sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 379-5632.
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