Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Wrestling officials deserve to get their hands raised

There were countless people who deserve credit for juggling their schedules last weekend when a winter storm postponed the district wrestling tournaments in the northeast district.

Wrestlers diligently kept their weight down and came to their respective tournaments prepared to wrestle a front-loaded Saturday-Sunday schedule rather than a balanced Friday-Saturday slate. Tournament directors and workers adjusted their weekends that all of a sudden did not include a Sunday off.

Perhaps lost in the shuffle - at least at the two district tournaments I attended - were proper kudos to a group of people who might have had the most difficult weekend of anyone.

The mat officials.

Saturday's schedule was understandably brutal. Most of the districts in the Northeastern District ran extended Saturday schedules that included all rounds being wrestled except for placement rounds. That meant schedules that started at 10 a.m. and did not wrap up until 9 p.m. or later.

There is a bylaw - understandably - that prohibits wrestlers from wrestling more than five matches in a day. That's why tournaments were stopped prior to placement rounds. It made for a busy day on Saturday, but it had to be done that way because the normal Saturday schedule under a Friday-Saturday format could not be followed. It would have been unreasonable and unfair (especially to the church-going groups) to bring wrestlers back at 10 a.m. on Sunday morning, take a mid-afternoon Sunday break and the return for finals at 5:30 p.m., which is the schedule most had set for Saturday in the Friday-Saturday schedule.

That meant overtime - serious overtime - on Saturday.

Especially for the guys in black and white shirts with whistles dangling from around their necks.

For more than 12 hours on Saturday - remember, weigh-ins at tournaments started well before the 10 a.m. starting time - the officials worked diligently. Once action started at 10 a.m., there were few - if any - breaks. Whereas wrestlers were limited to no more than five matches on Saturday, area officials worked dozens, all at peak performance and without flaw.

There were no 15-minute breaks. There were no lunch breaks. It was constant action. Lunch happened when/if someone brought an official a bite to eat from the hospitality room.

These guys worked above and beyond the call of duty - and not once did they complain. And not once did their performance level falter, despite difficult, tiring conditions.

For that, they deserve more credit than they received.

- JKampf@News-Herald.com


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