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2012 NCWA National Duals – A New Found Respect

NCWA

This past weekend I traveled to Dalton, GA to watch and broadcast the 2012 NCWA National Duals. Before I go too far into my thoughts I want to thank the NCWA Staff for a wonderful experience. Jim Giunta and his staff are real pro’s and executed this event flawlessly.

This was the first time I was able to see the NCWA in action. I tried to walk into it without any preconceived thoughts. My goal was to take it all in and then process what I saw. As is the case here at TOM, I wanted to provide a fair an objective observation.

I was asked one question at least a dozen times over the weekend, by coaches, organizers, friends back home and of course Ray. That question was “What do you think about the quality of wrestling”. For the most part I gave a noncommittal answer. I wanted time to think about it and put it into the proper perspective.

The more I thought about the question, the more I realized that, there really is no specific answer.

Was I watching the NCAA DI National Duals that will take place in a few short weeks? Nope, I was not. But, if that was what I was expecting to see I would consider myself a dope. The top tier guys in DI are among the top 1% of the wrestlers out there. That would be like going to my neighbor’s house expecting him to live like Bill Gates.

What I did see was something that opened my eyes back up to the whole reason Ray and I started TOM in the first place. I saw young men going at it not for TV glory, not for huge crowds or sponsors, but rather for themselves, teammates and schools. It was wrestling at a pure form.

There was no shortage of effort, determination or passion. I watched some amazing duals and individual matches.

Photo by Jason Heartsfield

I saw Liberty Head Coach Jesse Castro smile from ear to ear as his team lifted the huge championship trophy. I cannot imagine how proud he was of those young men being less than a year removed from losing his DI program. I saw a very talented Lindenwood St. Charles team lose a close dual in the finals. St Charles is transitioning to NCAA DII.

In one of the most exciting duals of the weekend I watched a heated rivalry between Mercer and Middle Tennessee State. If you do not believe me check out the picture. Middle Tennessee came out on top, but not by much.

So to answer the question; I saw some awesome wrestling by young men who were there for their pure love of the sport and competition. I also met a lot of great people. The coaches I spoke with were passionate about what they do. Their dedication alone is something we could all try to emulate. They care about these young men.

It made me think about many of the reasons I myself wrestled. We did it, because we had a passion for the sport that is hard to explain. Wrestling teaches us many things, humility, dedication, commitment and teamwork. You could see all of these things at play throughout the weekend.

Photo by Jason Heartsfield

With that said it made me think back to this summer and some of the negative comments we received after a series of articles we wrote about the NCAA and of course the NCWA. I am even more angered by the comments now. Some of them were demeaning. To those who made those kind of comments you should reconsider. True wrestling fans and wrestlers know how hard this sport is and how much work and dedication it takes. Why trash one of your own? Why be critical of young men who want to continue to do the sport we all love so much?

Yea, it is not Minnesota vs. Iowa. I get that, as do the people at the NCWA. But they have a great organization, with dedicated coaches and athletes.

I liked what I saw and I am very happy I attended. No matter what division of wrestling it is, it is still wrestling and I am guessing that most of those negative comments came from people who either never wrestled or never fully respected the sport. Maybe they did not learn the lessons that many of us did, such as humility and respect.

In the end, I thought the quality was just fine. The championship came down to the last three weights. Liberty prevailed in a back and forth battle with Lindenwood St.Charles. The NCWA is part of our club, the wrestling club and I applaud all the young men who went to the mat this weekend.

Full results can be found here: http://www.ncwa.net/news?news_id=1088