when i'm not in the office i'm wintering at the gym, watching boys' wrestling and girls' hoops. i've always enjoyed kids' basketball and baseball, but hadn't thought much about wrestling for twenty years. i remember good things about the sport, so i encouraged the lad when his football coach (strongly) suggested it. besides, some of my favorite professors were outstanding wrestlers, including paul wellstone and mike massoglia.
i wrestled at 140, so i was unprepared for the heavyweight matches i'm watching now. wrestling is like boxing, where you see action and scoring in the lighter classes but monster knockout moves in the heavier divisions. fortunately for tor, minnesota high schools now limit the heavyweights to 275 pounds, which means he can't face anybody more than a biscuit bigger than he is. that said, he's taking on some burly upperclassmen as a freshman, some of whom look way too old for high school (or college or prison or...). when i first "scouted" his opponents online, i'd panic after seeing their records or pictures. at this point in the season, i know he can beat good JV wrestlers and that even the good varsity heavyweights won't do him any permanent damage.
one cool and terrifying thing about being a heavyweight is that you typically wrestle last, so that the team's match hinges on your match. in baseball, this would be like coming to bat with two outs in the bottom of the ninth every game. the gopher wrestling team is fortunate to have cole konrad (above) as their heavyweight. at the national duals on sunday, the minnversity held a slim one-point lead over top-ranked oklahoma state when konrad faced two-time ncaa champion steve mocco. something called college sports television (cstv) will air the whole meet thursday night at 7, but you can watch a podcast of the classic heavyweight clash here (scroll all the way to the right and click). the moves look sort of like the high school heavyweight matches i've seen, but the athletes are far stronger and much more explosive.
you know, outside of football bowls and men's basketball, the minnversity's athletic department is doing pretty well this winter -- no major scandals, hockey is ranked #2, women's hoops is at #16, and wrestling...?