The Tournament by Matt

It was a brisk winter morning, my dad was wearing a green school hoodie. I was in a green t-shirt and black athletic shorts. The soccer fields we past were covered in frost and the road with black ice. We had gone for a short walk outside to calm my nerves before the match.  I looked down at my thin, black shoes while my dad talked, telling me that I would do great and assured me that I was getting better. I looked agitated and I felt as if I was going to throw up. It was my first match in my life and I didn’t feel ready.

When we walked in the school, I felt a little better. It was the place I’ve known for the past 5 months. There was tables set up selling snacks and shirts, but that was the furthest thing on my mind. I wanted to win. Papers with the wrestling information were plastered on the long, vertical windows. I found the mat huge, green and white mat I would wrestle on while my dad went and sat with my mom and my brother on the outstretched bleachers. They all wore similar green attire that supported the school. The tan gym was bigger than ever, bigger than I ever noticed. It looked so different with mat, tables, and people covering the basketball court. The green banners that boats the state titles loomed large. I knew some day, I would get my name up there.

I looked around the mat, but something seemed off. Everyone was bigger than me. I figured that my opponent didn’t arrive yet, but I was still nervous. Then the table workers called my name. I wondered over to the table, nervous. I put on the green Velcro ankle band, worn from use, and look around. I saw a giant look over the mat. He seemed almost twice the size of my 6th grade self. He looked like a novice, but I was aware many wrestlers act that way to trick their opponents. I tried to not look nervous but I could tell it was showing. He crouched in position, like a tiger ready to pounce.

I went to shake his massive hand. Suddenly, the black and white striped ref stopped us and said

“How much do you weigh?” The audience, who couldn’t hear the ref, stopped cheering and just sat, confused.

“109” I responded.

“And you?”

“190” answered the behemoth, confused.

“Go see the front table” the ref pointed to a far corner of the gym. The corner, crowded by a mass of wrestlers and coaches, had a temporary three tier table covered with a green fabric. Behind the table were cardboard boxes full of medals, huge stacks of papers, and workers making sure the day went smoothly. My coach and I walked to the table, not knowing what to think. The swarm of people was dense, the smell of sweat potent. When we reached the table, we talked to a high-school aged worker. After hearing our situation, he left into the depths of the crowd. He came back a minute later with a tall man wearing jeans and a wrestling shirt. His green lanyard said event-manager. He took us into the table area and pulled out 4 pieces of paper. The information to enter the tournament. On that paper, the last two digits in my wait. What should have been 109 turned into 190.

The relief was overwhelming. I didn’t have to wrestle the mammoth. After some paperwork, I was placed into a bracket with kids my own weight. The table workers called my name and I faced a boy with my same weight. We both went to the center and shook hands. The whistle blew and it all started.

Adrenalin saved from hours of anticipation surged through my veins. Coiled like a viper, our hands flew. We grabbed each others neck, trying to get the other person to get out of position. I waited for one mistake, one stumble, one slip. Soon, he grabbed my head and pushed towards me, trying to force me into the mat. I crouched down low, throwing him over me with his momentum. I snaked my hands around his legs, hanging onto them with all of my life. All at once, his legs flew back and he was on top of me. I struggled to get loose but he had started to turn me. My vision turned black and white, nothing else mattered in the world. I could hear a low buzz which was the audience. Suddenly, I heard voices. The coaches were giving me instructions, like they were programming a robot. I filled with energy and stood up. His heavy body, trying to return me to the mat. I turned towards him and buried a half-nelson. My arm around his neck I dropped him to the mat. The ref slapped the mat. Pin. The ref raised my hand and the crowd stormed me. I was so happy. I left that day with a gold medal and a new appreciation for weight classes.

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