First Meet

By Leslie Parks - Friday, February 27, 2015

This skinny little boy walks out of the house with a backpack weighted down with books and a computer and he's carrying a duffle bag full of sports stuff.  I can't even imagine carrying that load day after day and then working out for two hours after school but he does.  Yes, he has a locker at school but he doesn't use it.  He says that he doesn't even know where it is although he has the combination for it so he carries all his stuff with him throughout the day. This goes on for a couple weeks before the first meet of the season for school wrestling.  The day arrives and he comes downstairs in a sweatshirt that he's swimming in however it is his wrestling uniform.  He's so excited. Three other schools show up to the meet at the border.  I look around at the kids and realize the incredible difference in weight.  They call the first weight class, 80 to 100 pounds.  Job has weighed in at 75 pounds.  He doesn't even qualify for the lowest weight class but it turns out that there are two other kids from his school that weigh just about the same weight as him.  These three make their way down to the announcer's table anyway.  Will he get a match? I hope. How can he go to meet after meet without even 1 qualifying match? I am hoping that this doesn't make him lose interest, constantly wondering if he has an opponent.  I wait anxiously in the stands with John, wondering.  He comes back to the bleachers.  Not this round but the next round, which means that all weight classes wrestle and then they pair up kids again for another round. Finally it's Job's turn and he heads down to the mat with his opponent. Even though they asked parents to stay in the stands, I went down to the mat. I figured that if I didn't interfere and kept taking photos they wouldn't say anything to me. He walked out to the mat and they placed their colored bands around their ankles, shook hands and assumed neutral position.  That means they start facing each other.  The clock is set to a minute and a half.  A minute and a half to test his strength against his opponent by forcing his shoulders to touch the mat.  It is extremely tiring. He lasted through the first period and they reset the clock to another minute and a half.  Again, he pitted his strength against his opponent.  It was close to the end when he just couldn't quite keep from getting pinned. Exhausted he shook hands with his opponent and then with opposing coach before he came over to the bleachers to sit down. He let out a sigh and asked for food.  Can't deny him that, especially after wrestling.

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