Outside of the state tournament, my paper doesn’t usually cover the first day of a wrestling tournament. We go to the second, check out the consolations and cover the finals. In fact, I think that’s how it is, for the most part, for most newspapers. The first day is just full of quarterfinals and wrestlebacks. You can usually get all that info with a call in or a fax.
Today, I went for the second day of the tournament. And when I got there, four or five people bitched right away to me about how the wrestling was getting treated at this school. Now, we don’t cover the school where the tournament was. So I’m not sure how the normal protocol is. I do know that where the tournament was held was in the old gym. The new gym, I always thought was smaller anyway. By looking around today, things looked fine.
Two mats, all the bleachers down, things moving faster than expected. Where’s the problem?
Apparently Friday was totally different.
Three mats set up, two sets of bleachers gone. Fans couldn’t sit or even get in the gym. It was apparently not a fun situation for wrestlers, fans or coaches. Which is never a good thing.
Today everything seemed calmer.
Then it was time to work. As I looked at the brackets, my eyes were rolling. Fifteen weight classes and I had at least one kid in each class and in six or so, we covered both kids. Now this was a league tournament with 10 teams and we covered six of them, so that would explain that.
But damn, I was pulling double duty — covering it, tracking wrestlers down, working on a sidebar– AND — taking photos. Ouch!
Now I like covering wrestling tournaments. It is, after all, my beat. But when you have that many kids in the finals, it makes it tough! I think I did a pretty solid job and should work out fine. It’s also nice that my paper is a 6-day, so I have an extra day to get things together and write it up.
I could see today where some people would have been annoyed with the tournament and the school. The lighting was dim and it was pretty crowded. But the problem with league tournaments is that they are usually held in a gym of one of the schools involved. This league is a lot of rural schools, so the gyms aren’t going to be huge.
I thought things went pretty well today. Food was well priced, admission was good and everything else was solid. They did the spotlight in the middle for the finals, which is nice for the wrestlers and fans. But, they turned on the lights in one half of the gym after 96 because they needed people to be able to see the awards!!
Here’s the thing I hate about covering wrestling tournaments — with so many kids and weight classes, sometimes it’s hard to find a good way to lead these stories. Thankfully, in the past, I’ve had good luck finding things. Today it was tough. But I stumbled across a solid story to lead things off and the kid actually won, so I’m pretty happy about that. I have a good sidebar and hopefully feature for later in the week, so a pretty good day.
The best part is this is the start of the post season. We’ll only cover two more tournaments — our Sectional Tournament and States, but those are two I always look forward to. And the best part is, when that all ends, I know spring is right around the corner!