The picture with this article is the North Park youth wrestlers bringing in the flag before a HS Wrestling tournament. Thinking about these young wrestlers actually promoted my thoughts regarding this article and keeping wrestling front and center. Our youth will benefit from this sport like no other and we must find a way to continue to promote it for all the young ones boys and girls who wish to participate in the sport of wrestling.
I’m sitting here on this cold snowy day wishing the roads were clear so that I could cover the Mel Smith Invite in Florence. This tournament has and always will be one of the best 2A/3A tournaments that Colorado has to offer. This time of year most wrestlers have moved into their final weight class and have ramped it up a notch to get ready for regionals and for these two classes of wrestlers they are ready to test their skills and improvements at this tourney. Such is the luck that I’m sitting here while the snow falls and the wind howls and I’m forced to watch from afar on YouTube. Thank goodness for at least that. With that being said, I would like to offer up an apology for the coverage of wrestling in Colorado this year. Coverage has been subpar at best across the board. Reasons…….. Lack of people, costs and knowledge of the sport are just a few of my guesses. I have covered wrestling consistently for the last 5 years and it has strictly been in a volunteer capacity. Covering some of the bigger tournaments has been easier in the past as I had a son who wrestled in Middle school and H.S. for the last 5 years. When you have 252 teams and close to 1400 wrestlers in the State of Colorado that’s a lot of man hours to provide great coverage and up to date info. on a regular basis.
Most of the coverage you see shared or posted is in relation to our top notch wrestlers or the wrestlers who have made a name for themselves in this sport. Hats off to those wrestlers and all their accomplishments. Many of them I have watched from the beginning when they were searching for a size youth 10 wrestling shoe. These are the wrestlers that your local paper covers and that shine in their community in their sport. It has always annoyed me when I’ve spent 8-10 hours at a tournament and there is not a photographer or journalist to be found until the finals. Definitely not taking anything away from that but I have often wondered if they know the actual blood, sweat and tears that happens in those gyms before finals are even a blip on the radar. I do understand that most of them can’t spend the day in a gym covering sports. I continue to ask myself what’s the answer and how do we get more people to cover this sport. I honestly don’t know. I truly do not believe until you’ve spent those hours in a gym filled with wrestlers, competing for spots on the podium that you can truly appreciate what this sport is and the commitment that coaches, wrestlers and their families make on a daily basis. The cost of travel when you don’t have a wrestler, the cost of equipment when you take pictures and the time you spend covering wrestling can eat a whole in your pocket if you’re doing it on a volunteer basis. So what is the end result, we rely on the local coverage and we rely on those parents and photographers who are already attending these events. Unfortunately for me in the winter time, I chose to move to a little out of the way town that on any given day in the winter can close all roads going in and out of town.
I myself like so many others are thankful for the local papers and wrestling friends on social media that can shed lightness on what’s happening in the wrestling world in Colorado. I do miss sitting mat side and watching a wrestler who hasn’t won a match all season and celebrate like they’ve won a State tournament when they get that win under their belt. I miss watching the #4 beat a #1 or #2 ranked wrestler and knowing that it may not happen again but for that one moment they are celebrating something extra special. I miss the Mom who can’t sit still and screams in support even if their wrestler is down by 5 with 10 seconds left on the clock. I miss capturing all those moments through my camera lens.The best I can do when I can’t get to a tournament is share my thoughts with words in print. I like so many others faithfully watch for Tim’s “On The Mat Rankings” weekly so I can see who is where and what is happening within the rankings. I also spend a lot of time on Track searching out tournaments to at least make me feel a little closer to the action.
I have spent hours upon hours taking thousands of pictures of wrestlers, some who have never got past a second match at regionals and have only attended the State tournament as an audience member. To you and especially you wrestlers I apologize. I miss all those stories this year that haven’t been told and please know that I and many others are cheering from afar. Regionals and State this year are going to be intense to say the least and I have my sights set on a region I will cover and if it means leaving a week early I will find my way to the Pepsi Center on Feb. 20, 2020 because after all that is where you will leave it on the mat because wrestlers always carry “The Heart of a wrestler”.
Melanie Johnson- MileHigh Prep Report