The ongoing improvement of the young B-CL-B wrestling team was on display again this weekend as the Bears competed in the section 8 AA wrestling tournament.
Last year only one wrestler, Daven Staples, survived the first day of the two-day tournament. This year, seven of the 12 competing wrestlers did so. Eighth graders Andrew Nissen and Kyle Michalek, freshmen Daven Staples, Nate Jablonski and Nick Grundmeier, sophomore Brady Gross, junior captain Alex Goodwin and senior J.J. Nehl all earned their way to the second day.
When the smoke cleared, the Bears came away with two 4th place finishers (Jablonski and Grundmeier), two fifth place-winners (Gross and Staples) and two sixth places (Michalek and Nehl).
In addition, the team was awarded the sections Sportsmanship Award. This award was likely earned not only by the actions and effort Bear wrestlers and coaches exhibited while competing, but also by the continued support of their teammates who routinely stand matside in support of their fellow members.
Without question, there is a great deal of young talent on this squad, however, their ultimate success will likely be determined not by their ability, but by their efforts in the offseason and their dedication to one another.
Coaches Reiplinger, Nord, Goodfellow and Foster along with strong leadership from upperclassmen have this team headed the right direction, but only the wrestlers themselves can determine their "ceiling."
Just before the finals are held, determining who advances to the state tournament, the sections "special awards" are given out.
In addition to the previously mentioned Sportsmanship Award, they also recognize the section's wrestlers with the 20 highest gradepoint averages. It was of great interest to observe that 19 of these individuals were still competing in the final's medal round. A poignant reminder that hard work and discipline are synonymous with success in all arena's of life, not just in athletics.
Borrowing a quote from famed basketball coaching legend John Wooden, "Athletics does not build character, it reveals it."
What a blessing that we have coaches and other adults in our communities willing to give of themselves in order to help our kids become not just better competitors, but better people.