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Thoughts on the 2009 SJS Masters

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Thoughts on the 2009 SJS Masters

Oakdale's Charlie Gilstrap celebrates his 215-pound section title Friday at the SJS Masters Tournament.


POSTED March 1, 2009 5:31 a.m.
I spent eight hours at the 2009 Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament on Friday and I wanted to share a few observations.

First of all, the sport of wrestling is starting to grow on me.

I admit, I’m a novice in the wrestling world, I don’t know all of the terminology.

I’ve got the scoring down, and I’m just now starting to get a grasp for different moves and their purposes, but I couldn’t tell you the difference between a Peterson Roll and a Banana Splits.


I’ve become hooked on wrestling for the same reason I’m now a proud Seattle Sounders FC fan.

While I grew up playing the Big 3, and pretty much blew the rest off, after I became a sports reporter and started to immerse myself in sports that I was unfamiliar with, what invariably drew me to them was the passion of the athletes.

I can’t kick a soccer ball without it spinning off my foot and traveling five feet laterally.

I can’t dive into a swimming pool without at least a 10-foot cannon-ball splash, and if I tried to swim two laps in 40 seconds, they’d need a harpoon to drag my corpse up from the chlorinated depths.
Track & Field? You’re kidding, right?

But passion for a sport – competitive fire.

That I can relate to.

I was at the concession stand around 1 p.m. at the Spanos Center at UOP, right around the time the 7th-8th, 5th-6th and 3rd-4th place matches were taking place, and a wrestler whose name I never got came storming up the stairs and immediately started growling to himself in the corner.

Such odd behavior is not uncommon at massive wrestling events, you have to understand, wrestling requires the utmost discipline for the length of an entire high school season, and the athletes that participate are almost all, to a man, complete and utter perfectionists.

They absolutely hate to lose.

And it’s understandable.

In wrestling, failure can only land on one pair of shoulders.

There are no teams in wrestling.

Oh, they say there are, for the purposes of competitive equality with the rest of the high school sporting world.

But there really aren’t.

Wrestling parents know it. Wrestling coaches know it. And most importantly, wrestlers know it.

That’s why they wrestle.

To figure out who’s best.

It’s a perfectionist’s Graceland, minus the 5XL ruby-studded jumpsuit years.

It takes a rare breed to wrestle, which is why I wasn’t shocked when the snarling beast in the corner started pacing and wringing his head gear with clenched fists.

A parent asked the wrestler what was wrong, and I was certain the response would be that the kid finished eighth (meaning he missed moving onto the state tournament by one loss).

Instead, the beast howled, “I lost!”

“What did you finish?”





You’re better than 98 percent of the kids in the section that do exactly the same thing you do every afternoon of your life.

You’re moving onto the biggest, baddest high school wrestling tournament in the country, and you’re acting as though you’ve accidentally given away a winning lottery ticket.

But that’s what makes wrestlers wrestlers.

They don’t care about the big picture stuff nearly as much as the pain-staking details they must commit to every day in order to succeed at their sport.

It takes a rare breed.

Charlie Gilstrap’s face looked like Pizza the Hut after his championship match Friday night, but the smile on his face was worth a million bucks.

Charlie let out a bellow after he won his title. Nothing disrespectful to his opponent in any way, but an unbridled second of rejoice, celebrating each and every sacrifice he had to make to get to that moment in time.

That’s what I love about wrestling.

I don’t get it. I’m a novice. I’m willing to learn.

But I do see the passion.

A unique passion.

And passion is why we play sports.
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