24 January, 2016

Another Saturday, another tournament

Yesterday started with plenty of drama. I woke at 4.30, even though I didn't need to be up that early. That seems to be the pattern these tournament Saturdays.

David and Callum along with another wrestler who lives too far away to get to school by 5.15am and therefore slept over at our house, left on the bus at 5.30. With David as driver and only coach. 

This was the draw from our son's weight class
yesterday. The top diagram is the main draw, if
you lost there, you got another chance
on the draw below. It was a random draw,
so unfortunately the three of the best wrestlers
in this class met in the first two rounds.
It meant that the wrestler who came third is
one that probably wasn't the third best wrestler
at the meet. But that, I guess is the meaning
of the "luck of the draw".
The main coach has had a medical emergency in his family with his newborn firstborn baby being admitted into NICU at two days of age. So David's been holding the fort while the coach is away. He's thankful for having watched wrestling now for four years and sat by the coach's side throughout this season, learning all the time.

The rest of us had a complicated plan for getting us and two other families to two wrestling meets in two different locations. High school and middle/elementary school. Two vehicles and three families plus one coach/friend/former CAJ coach from another school. You don't want the details, but it nearly went wrong when we ended up with two different meeting places, CAJ and our house (only 300m apart). Thankfully this was sorted out and we went our separate ways.

Our eight-seater van was full with four adults, one teenager, and three kids. It was a fun trip, a great way to pass the time and pretend we weren't tired.

Our destination was the Zama US Army Base. Going on base requires going through security and prior notice, they need several days to many weeks notice to know you're coming. Sometimes it is as easy as showing ID. Driving a car on base also requires car ID and in this case, proof of two levels of car insurance. We failed this test (missing documentation at home), so had to park off base and walk, about 1.5km.

As we walked in it had already begun and CAJ had three wrestles happening simultaneously. Two of which were sons of those I'd travelled with. 

Nearly a pin. This was nearly in our laps. It probably would have been a
pin in the middle of the mat, but you can see they are outside the wide
white line, the edge of which designates the edge of the mat.
The start of this tournament, with three mats running, was fast and furious. Each match needed David plus a wrestling team member (for the more technical coaching expertise) or just another team member as we only had one coach. Plus two team managers, who recorded the result, looked after the med kit, and wrestler's water bottle and towel, and took video and anything else that needed doing. It meant constant alertness to make sure we weren't missing anyone. These tournaments have a start time, that's all. There's no knowing when an actual bout will occur, when one finishes (which might be anywhere from 20 seconds to 6 ½ minutes) the next one goes on. The wrestlers generally get called up by an announcement when there's one or two bouts ahead of them.
It's a pin, but not a super angle. Here we have a female ref,
who was dwarfed by most of the wrestlers that she refereed.

We had two video cameras, I kind-of took care of the extra one, though the duties were shared around. Not relaxing at all. Neither is being in a gym full of shouting supporters and coaches. 

We had some interesting vocal coaches yesterday. At one point I wouldn't have been surprised if punches might have been thrown, but thankfully they held themselves enough in check to prevent that. Things did get a bit out of hand at one point when one wrestler won on the "buzzer". It took 10 minutes of discussion between the American coaches and Japanese refs for them to be willing to move on to the next bout, which happened to be our son's. There are some interesting cross-cultural and multilingual undercurrents.

It was a knockout tournament. After losing two matches, that was it for the day. So as the day wore on things slowed down as those in our team still in the competition were gradually whittled down.
The team bus as we neared home. It was a long day, but
not as long as two weeks ago. But still we returned these
guys to school 14 hours after they'd left.

In the end we had a couple of placings, two seconds, I think. And some fourths. But I could be wrong. There was no award ceremony, the medals had been temporarily misplaced.

Our son was fourth. He wrestled well, though. Like in most sports, there are good losses and bad losses. Close wins and easy wins. He made the two guys who beat him fight hard to beat him. It's great to see him being challenged over the season by some great wrestlers and rising to the challenge.

The other thing that raised the level of craziness of the morning was periodic news via texts about our youngest son's wrestling. First one pin, then a second, then a third. He got a gold medal in his first meet (just elementary students). He's very happy.

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