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Hall to compete at state tourney

by Chuck Smock

This weekend marks the end of the Nevada high school wrestling season and the beginning of a return to a more normal teen-age lifestyle for most of the competitors at the state tournament in Las Vegas.

Douglas High junior Drew Hall is one of 56 Northern Nevada wrestlers who has qualified for the 4A state meet. He finished fourth at 160 pounds at last weekend’s Northern 4A Zone Championships at Galena High to earn the trip to state.

While Hall is totally focused on his goal of winning at least one match at state, on Thursday he admitted he is anticipating the first few hours, and days, of freedom from the rigorous demands of a sport that rewards athletes who can push themselves to the edge of physical and mental exhaustion.

Imagine being a high school wrestler.

In order to achieve even limited success, you’ll have to spend countless hours training, which will include seemingly endless practice sessions with sweaty teammates trying to bend, twist, pull and squeeze your body into position to put both of your shoulders on the mat for one second.

Your conditioning program will also include a mind-numbing number of pushups, situps and laps around gym. And, yes, there will be many, many trips to the weight room for workouts that will leave every muscle in your body screaming for a hot tub, but dreading the effort it will take to find one.

For all but a very lucky few, wrestling in high school will also mean dieting – euphemistically speaking, of course. Wrestlers prefer the term “cutting weight,” which not only is more manly, but also more accurately describes the process that young men go through to lose 10 or 15 or 20 pounds in a matter of weeks.

Before weigh-ins, it’s not uncommon to see wrestlers wrapped in rubber sweatsuits, spitting into paper cups in an attempt to rid their bodies of as much water weight as possible.

Hall hasn’t had to go to those extremes. A sensible diet and hard work have allowed him to shed 10 to 15 of the pounds he carried last fall as a running back for the DHS football team. Not that it was easy.

The following conversation took place Thursday morning, just before Hall left for the airport and the flight to Las Vegas:

Hall smiled when asked how long it would take for him to gain back the weight.

“About a week, I bet,” he laughed.

And what’s the first food on your hit list?

“Chinese food. I can’t wait to have have that one.”

So, you planning to wear out a couple of the all-you-can eat buffets in Vegas?

“Definitely. I’ll be stuffed.”

Anything you’ll be happy to exclude from your diet?

“Eggs. No more omelets for awhile.”

Back to the Chinese food. Are we talking breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next couple weeks?

“Yup. And some snacks in between.”

Any preference for snacks?

“Everything. Anything I see.”

And what about your teammates who don’t have to cut weight? The ones who come back from lunch carrying a big bag of burgers and fries?

“That’s really brutal. I can’t wait for McDonalds, too. Only a couple more days.”

Obviously, wrestling appeals to a large number of kids of all ages throughout Northern Nevada and the rest of the country despite the sacrifices the sport demands.

And a casual observer needed only to witness the 14 championship matches at the zone tournament Saturday night to get an understanding of what the 1,500 fans who had packed the stands already knew: When you take away the pads and the bats and the balls and the baskets and the goals, when all you have left is two kids on one mat, each with the same goal, you’re left with sport in its truest form.

Douglas head football coach Mike Rippee knows a thing or two about wrestling. He was a two-time state champion during his high school days in Yerington and has coached the sport at several different levels.

“I think wrestling is the toughest sport around,” said Rippee, who lost a total of four matches in a two-year career at Yerington that included winning state titles at 191 pounds as a junior and at 177 pounds as a senior. “I think football is a very disciplined, tough sport, too, but there’s nothing like putting yourself on the mat, being vulnerable in front of everybody else. It’s just you and the other guy.

“It takes a special type of kid to go out there and participate in that type of sport. It’s just a tremendous sport, from my point of view.”

Wrestling probably won’t ever be as popular -with spectators or participants -as football or baseball or basketball, but that doesn’t seem to matter to the people know and love the sport.

“It’s a sport where you don’t get a lot of glory, but there’s a lot of self satisfaction that comes from it,” Hall said.