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TOM’s Thanksgiving Food Finals


Before you sit down with family and friends (or meet over Zoom/Skype/FaceTime) to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast, let’s reevaluate your meal. Look at your food items through the lens of a college wrestling program. What are your favorite Thanksgiving-related choices and which leave a little bit to be desired? I know I have my favorites! Today, we’ve listed most of the staples of a Thanksgiving dinner and matched them up with a potential member of a college team. Let us know your feedback and how you would label your meal. I expect this will be more controversial than trying to pick a side in an Iowa/Penn State dual meet. 

Oh and we’re just evaluating main course items. No desserts. We’re wrestlers, we’ll probably eat whatever dessert we can get our hands on.

National Champion (Green Bean Casserole) – It’s potential is endless. A national title may be too low of a bar for this awesome side. Any dinner with green bean casserole automatically gets about 20 team points for the head of the household. This really should be a normal part of your repertoire rather than a holiday favorite. 

The High-Ceiling Potential (Stuffing) – I expect to get varying opinions on this one. For me, stuffing is neck-and-neck with the green bean casserole. On a good day, prepared by the right person, maybe it wins the national title. Some may be quick to throw it in the “did not qualify” category, though. It’s the most volatile choice, here. 

The Low-Floor Potential (Macaroni and Cheese) – I don’t expect the macaroni and cheese to blow my mind with its awesomeness, but at the same time, it will be one of the better options on the table. You can be safe in assuming this favorite will make an appearance on the medal stand. 

The One that Bumped Up Two Weights and AA’ed (Mashed Potatoes) – What does this mean? The mashed potatoes are versatile; they’re a team player. If you’re someone that likes to mix your foods together, what’s the bond that holds these different tastes and textures together? That’s right, mashed potatoes. They had an All-American at their optimal weight and did what’s best for the team and bumped up to contribute. 

The One that Cuts A lot of Weight (Gravy) – In the same vein as the mashed potatoes, gravy can bring the dinner together and goes with multiple items. The difference is that the gravy used at your dinner can vary significantly from household to household. Sometimes it’s the perfect concoction and all is well. Other times, not so much. The same goes for a wrestler cutting weight. A little too much could yield disastrous results. 

The Injury Risk (Sweet Potatoes) – If the mashed potatoes take one for the team, the sweet potatoes are the tantalizing option that ends up on the shelf. Occasionally, under the right circumstances, they are great. More often than not, you end up having to look for a replacement. 

4x NCAA Qualifier (Turkey) – A staple of the program. You can’t have Thanksgiving without your turkey and your team typically has to have a consistent leader on the mat. Turkey may be a little boring, it’s probably not getting a pin or a tech fall, but it gets the job done. 

The Fringe All-American (Ham) – Ham is reliable. It will never be a world-beater, but you’re thankful for it in your program. Coming into the NCAA Tournament, maybe it’s the 14 or 15th seed. You’re not counting on it to be a star, but in its best form, it could easily make the podium. 

The 5th Year Senior/1st year starter (Dinner Rolls) – Typically, I load up on all of the items you’ve already read about and find myself ready to dig in. But wait, something is missing..oh yeah, a dinner roll or two. I was too focused on the premium sides and I overlooked a solid option. Most programs have that one senior that was underrecruited, but finally finds their way onto the mat and shows they’re more than capable of winning. 

The Stud Freshman (Cornbread) – If the dinner rolls get overlooked, the cornbread is the four-time state champion that hits the college mat and looks at home from day one. Having a couple pieces of cornbread makes you forget about the dinner rolls. Reserve a spot high on the podium for this side. 

Transfer (Corn Pudding) – Sometimes, a wrestler and a program just don’t mesh well. Nothing wrong on either side, but a change of scenery is necessary. I don’t dislike corn pudding. I’ll eat it. It’s fine. But maybe it excels on someone else’s plate. 

Did Not Qualify (Cranberry Sauce) – Sorry, you tried, but you don’t qualify for the big dance. Thanksgiving dinner is elite and cranberry sauce is ordinary, at best. And if you pour it out of the can, with ripples still showing on the side…that’s 0-2 at the conference tournament. 

Did Not Qualify (Collard Greens) – This is probably not a staple of every Thanksgiving dinner, based on your geographical location.  It’s not that I don’t like collard greens, but I’m not saving room on my plate for them. Maybe in a typical dinner, but not Thanksgiving. 

In all sincerity, we at The Open Mat wish you and your loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving! 

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