Time to pin down sport's techniques

Wrestling: In one Howard County tournament, it's not about winning for the young athletes. It's about learning goals for the season.

Howard At Play

December 28, 2003|By Lowell E. Sunderland

A tournament in any sport is something special, something a bit different, a change of pace from competing against only one other team.

One way to think of a tournament is as a festival, a celebration of the particular sport. Sometimes, of course, a tournament is a really big deal -- such as the playoffs in any team sport; regional, national or world championships; or the Olympics.

But a tournament like Howard County Wrestling's eighth annual year-end holiday event? It's competitive, sure. But a big deal? Not really. There are winners and losers because that's the nature of any tournament.

But the purpose is different, more along the lines of introducing young athletes -- and their parents -- to the noise, excitement, pressures and releases the sport can offer. And athletes had to lose twice before being eliminated.

"It depends on when in a season the tournament is held," said Jeff Rosenberg, one of the most successful high school wrestlers Howard County has produced. Rosenberg is president of Howard County Wrestling and a coach who works with various clubs and school teams, offering advice and encouragement.

"At the end of a season, it's about winning. But when a season is just beginning, a tournament is more about finding out where you are in conditioning, of learning what your goals for the season should be, what you can do, what you need to learn," he said.

"As a coach, I'd rather see a wrestler lose every match but try all the moves we've been teaching, rather than win by using just one or two moves over and over."

The Howard club's event -- essentially an in-club competition, although a couple of smaller, outside clubs participated, too -- occupied three mats at Centennial High School, with bouts going on simultaneously from noon until late into the evening.

As usual, it drew about 200 young wrestlers, many in their first or second years of competition, although the flu bug affected participation to a degree.

Go to any tournament, in any sport, and you'll find competitors, coaches and parents who take all of it very seriously. And you'll find some who are more relaxed -- going with the flow.

"It's a really long day," said Woodbine's Thomas Dziwulski, an assistant coach whose son Drew, 9, won a silver medal in his bantam weight class. "We didn't get back home until around 9 p.m., and my voice is still not back to normal from yelling."

"When you win, it's wonderful," said the one-time wrestler at McDonogh School in Owings Mills and, briefly, at Duke University. "When you lose, it's brutal."

Robyn Dagen was a first-timer, watching son Alex, 7, who was beaten in both his matches -- not unusual for a newcomer to the sport.

"It's a little confusing, waiting for your number to come," she said. "There's a lot of time between matches. I don't know, it just looks like fighting, to me."

But, she added, Alex was the one who wanted to try wrestling. "We were really proud of how he came back. He was pinned really fast in his first match, but he lasted the whole time in the next one."

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