Mat matters 1.0: What we learned Days 1-3 of the 2009 Far East High School Wrestling Tournament
Published: February 13, 2009
Musings and mutterings as we head 'round third and head for home, aka the dual-meet phase of the 2009 DODDS-Pacific Far East High School Wrestling Tournament:
-- That all-out war called the 158-pound weight class was "all that," and thensome. As forecast, any one of six wrestlers could have won that carnage; turns out Zama American's Michael Spencer rose to the top.
-- Felt pretty good, he said, especially after just missing out at 145 pounds last February in the DODDS-Europe championships, when he lost the gold-medal bout to Matt Lyon at St. John's International. "I still want a rematch," Spencer said after Friday's gold-medal win over Kubasaki's Jake Haynes.
-- And how about that three-way battle at 122 pounds? You can't say that Kubasaki's Scott Wood didn't earn that gold medal; this was probably the hardest route he had to take to the gold, losing during the regular season to Kadena's J.C. Henderson and Yokota's Nick Guzman en route to the title.
-- What did Kubasaki's team championships in 2005 and on Friday have in common? The Dragons, thought to be rebuilding,flew below the radar in the shadows of other programs -- Nile C. Kinnick, Yokota and Kadena in particular -- all season. That "was certainly fine with us," coach Terry Chumley said.
-- Rarely do all gold medalists from the previous year's Far East tournament repeat their championships. But all six this year -- Wood, Yokota's Mark Meade, Tony Presnell and Chris Cournoyer, Kadena's Harry Bloom and reigning Far East Outstanding Wrestler Cameron Butts of Kinnick -- accomplished just that, but with varying degrees of difficulty.
-- "It's hard to repeat; everyone's after you," Cournoyer said. Truer words were rarely spoken.
-- Whether one believes that Bloom won championship bout 148.2 against Zama's Elias Labrador or vice versa, the way the bout ended was absolutely the last way everybody in the Foster Field House wanted it to end. To recap, Labrador's almost-takedown in the closing seconds was initially scoredas a point by the mat referee,then taken off the board when the other two referees didn't confirm it.The period ended 1-1 with Bloom scoring the last point and ultimately a 2-1 decision. Yes, it happened, but ideally, such an important bout should be settled entirely by the combatants.
-- As a matter of fact, Ornauer detests controversy, period. He wishes the whole thing didn't happen, the same way he wishes the events ofMay 24, 2007, and May 23, 2008, were just bad dreams.
-- But he doesn't know how else it can be settled. The correct call was made in the end, but it's sort of like having an ice cream sundae with the coloured sprinkles missing.
-- Talk was that E.J. King and Zama American, neither of which fielded enough wrestlers to compete in Saturday's dual-meet tournament, would combine their forces to form a nine-man team. But the idea was quickly abandoned, amid one important question: What if the Tro-bras won the whole shooting match? Do the two schools share the honor? Or do they give the trophy to the second-place entity?
-- Suggest they combine forces anywayand wrestle "challenge" dual meets on Mat 3 against teams that have been eliminated from the dual-meet portion of the tournament.
-- If one thought Friday's freestyle finals were the stuff of dreams, we sure got an indication of what was to come during Thursday's preliminary-round bouts.
-- Take Wood's early-round bout against Guzman. The latter stepped onto the mat bearing athletic tape around his head, holding a gauze pad in place to protect a cut on his forehead. Wood left the mat in just the same condition, needing a hospital visit to close a similar cut over his right eye -- the same spot as Guzman's.
-- Quote of the tournament: From Robert D. Edgren's Darrel Morris, about the ultra-competitive 158-pound weight class: "I feel like a NASCAR driver."
-- Quote of the tournament.2: From Labrador, on what was to come during Friday's freestyle finals: "Tonight, we're all going to be buddy buddy talking, but tomorrow, we're going to be at each other's throats." How right he was.
War spring sports season. Unwar Far East tournament controversies. Ten days.