02 February, 2014

You can't hold parties for wrestlers!

Yesterday CAJ hosted a Kanto Plains international schools individual wrestling tournament. It involved considerable volunteer work to put it on. 

For starters the wrestling team set-up the gym. Which included moving wrestling mats from the upstairs training room to the main gym floor and taping them all down. It also involved setting up tables for judges, scorers, the announcer, and the admin people who organised the results of 111 wrestling bouts. All of this set-up happened after the inter-school basketball matches in the gym that finished somewhere around 9pm. Needless to say the guys got home late. 
Sorry for these bad iPhone photos.

As hosts we also we beholden to provide food for the coaches and refs. It was called the Hospitality Room. I helped a little with that. 

On the day we had four people working on the admin and announcing, and about four people at any one time on scoring. Each match had three refs working hard with one or two coaches per wrestler.

In the foyer, an army of Seniors ran the Concession Stand. We enjoyed Japanese Curry Rice for lunch. 

Afterwards the whole thing was reversed, freeing the gym for other sporting teams and school PE. But we also cleaned. We swept all the grandstands (bleachers). A lot of [eople = a lot of mess.

(Almost) no parties for wrestlers
As we were packing up the hospitality room one of the other wrestling mums lamented that, unlike other sporting teams, you just can't give parties for the wrestling team. 

I don't know how many of the team are on the very edge of their weight class, but it has to be several. I'm thankful this hasn't been an issue for our growing son, but at least two of the team have lost several kgs during the season in order to compete in their weight class. And the next two weeks hold the two most important meets of the season, so maintaining their weight is very important. After holding back for so long, they've got a large party planned for the first day after their last meet! It is a legendary party. 

Yesterday's results
The semi-final against his team mate.
As for how our son went yesterday. He did well. There were 16 wrestlers in his weight category. He won his first two bouts which took him to the semifinals. There he met CAJ's best wrestler, who also has only been defeated once in his last 60 or so bouts. Our son manned up and did what he had to do. He certainly didn't disgrace himself or his school, he made his teammate earn the win. 

From there it got more complicated. And I leant a new word: repechage. I've heard it, especially in Olympic commentary. By never really figured out its meaning. Yesterday, after the semifinal loss, our son entered the repechage rounds. Two wrestlers who'd lost earlier in the competition than him had to wrestle off for the privilege of wrestling our son for the bronze medal (strangely enough there were two bronze medals, with another set of wrestlers competing for the other medal). 

Unfortunately our son lost this bronze medal bout. It was disappointing, but great to see he'd made it that close to the medals. It is a challenging match to watch (we video each bout). It is hard to see where points were earned: the guys were all over each other. But he gave away too many points in the end. 

However, we had a lot to celebrate for the rest of the team. We got two gold medals, four silvers, and two bronzes. The whole team came third out of six. A great team effort!

Good Atmosphere
Being an at-home event, we had more supporters than usual from CAJ. One of our Aussie friends came with his young son. The first time he'd seen live international wrestling. By his own admission, he found it pretty confusing at first. I helped explain some of the rules, at least the more common ones. Americans find it hard to believe how rare wrestling is in Australia. I don't know anyone who does this as a sport. It isn't a school sport, nor a university sport.

One of the things I commented on with my Aussie friend, was the good atmosphere of the tournament. For a combat-type sport, it really is interesting to behold how non-aggressive it is. Even while wrestling, there generally isn't nastiness, the best wrestlers are well controlled in their actions. They really approach it in a "gentlemanly" type way, with handshakes all round and even the occasional hug between wrestlers. Sometimes the coaches shout in protest about a call the ref made, but generally it isn't too major. And there's generally no nastiness (at least that I've heard) from the supporters in the stands.

So, I remain an enthusiastic supporter.  Good thing too, because despite this season being nearly over (one more tournament for our son), it looks like we're in this for the duration. Our youngest wants to join the team as soon as he can, which could mean I'll be watching wrestling live for the next 10 years!

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