“The Sun Set on Yorktown College.”
Copyright 2011 Discovery Publishing Corp.
How come the sunrise brings anticipation while a sunset is an unwelcome arrival? They are both similar occurrences, but they elicit drastically different emotions. A bright light in the morning; peeking through the leaves of the trees and giving birth to shadows that didn’t exist only a few moments prior.
In the evening that warm glow of a fading light that beckons to the eye, “until we meet again.” Their presence is expected; predictable, a surprise to no one, the emotions relived every day.
It might be that one expresses hope, a fresh start and endless possibilities while the other signals the impending darkness and discomfort of facing one’s mortality. Or maybe, it’s the stark realization that the day started with endless potential but ended like so many other days, the realization of shattered dreams; at other times only questions of what could have been…
The sun rose on Yorktown on this morning, just like every other morning and it would continue to rise for the foreseeable future for all of its residents. At Yorktown College there resided two students named Marc and Stacy who great hope and so many possibilities, if only they could prevent the sun from setting on them.
“I’m open!” screamed Isaac as he glided effortlessly down the ice. He was skating hard down the right wing anticipating the pass. At center was Marc; he was as smooth a skater as Isaac, not as quick, but he had “better hands.” He took a shot that missed the net by six inches. Isaac went into the corner hoping to dig the puck back out to Marc in front of the net.
“Whack!” Isaac instead took a stick to his chin as an opposing player’s stick rose and clipped him.
“Tweeeeet”, the referee did not hesitate to blow his whistle and send the opposing player to the penalty box. He received a five minute major penalty as he had cut Isaac in the process. Isaac skated gingerly to the bench and placed a bandage on the cut, provided for by an arena employee.
They had a full five minutes to try and score with the man advantage, they weren’t successful, but it really didn’t matter. Their team lost 5-3 in the final game of a short house league season. They had finished with five wins and seven losses; not good enough to make the playoffs and this final game was meaningless to the standings. Marc and Isaac both scored on this night, each assisting on the others goal. They played on the top line and finished at the top of their team in scoring for the season, but their team was simply not good enough.
“Hey nice pass Marc,” Isaac called out to him in the locker room as they were getting undressed. Marc didn’t respond right away. “Instead of a beautiful goal I have a bandage on my face,” Isaac stated matter-of-factly.
Marc sheepishly responded, “the goalie was having a good game, I didn’t want you to ruin it for him.”
Isaac’s eyes lit up “Haha that would be one of the rare occasions I would ruin a goalie’s game”. Isaac was being modest; he scored many goals this year, as in prior years, and in years growing up playing ice hockey. Modesty was a trait he and Marc shared among other qualities, it was one of the reasons they got along so well.
Though Isaac would often joke in a brash manner, one had to know him to realize that he was in fact just a big joker who dished it out in a playful manner, it was a staple of his personality. Fortunately he could also accept being on the receiving end of a joke; he didn’t mind it at all; he was a light hearted spirit.
Isaac was average height with a slender build. He has dark brown hair which was thinning though he wasn’t officially losing it yet. He was from out of state and had numerous school options but decided to attend college in Yorktown because it had a reputation for an excellent pharmaceutical program. He wanted to be a Pharmacist, possibly a doctor if he maintained his passion for school, he wasn’t sure yet even as a Junior in College. He was good in sports due to his hard work ethic and his desire to remain healthy and active. It was certainly a different environment living in Florida. He was a New Yorker born and bred, and the pace in Florida was much slower than he was accustomed to, but he had liked the experience so far.
In contrast, Marc had arrived at Yorktown on an athletic scholarship. He was a Canadian provincial wrestling champion who had arrived from Montreal to pursue the dream of getting his degree in nursing. Athletic scholarships don’t exist in Canada so he needed to apply for a scholarship in the U.S.
His scholarship allowed him to start his schooling in Canada for the first two years and to head to the U.S
for the final two years if he chose. As long as he maintained his wrestling accomplishments it would be available to him, he had done so successfully while in school in Canada, ranking high provincially. He was intelligent but would not have been able to afford his degree at Yorktown if not for his athletic accomplishments.
He and Isaac had originally met in a chemistry class when they were partnered together for an experiment; they instantly hit it off and had been friends ever since. Isaac had never met a French Canadian before and said he was surprised on how relaxed Marc was as he had “heard differently”
about residents from Quebec. They were both now a few months into their third year of the program.
Marc was slightly taller than Isaac with a broader build. He had chestnut brown hair coupled with hazel coloured eyes. His hair was thick and well-kept but it sometimes had a mind of its own and “cow licks”
were not an uncommon sight on Marc (“they look cute” his mom would always tell him). He had a childlike face which could be only slightly transformed whenever he let some facial hair grow, which was rare. His chiselled jaw and fatless face would be the envy of any model and he would have looked quite comfortable on the front of a fashion magazine.
Marc had slight dimples that weren’t really noticeable until he smiled and even then one would have to be focusing to notice them. When he smiled it was his eyes that caught one’s attention, almost cat like in appearance but not so dominant to look out of place. He had a brooding look when he was in thought, but when he smiled his look was inviting; magnetic. His eyes could penetrate, causing one to look away if they were caught in their crossfire, this was in contrast to his smile which would disarm the viewer while drawing them in; he was a peacock among sparrows, but he was just one of the guys, as he preferred.
Without a doubt Marc was a handsome young man. Except he didn’t know it, or maybe he just never thought about it. He had always been shy; not deficient socially but he had a gentle nature about him that resonated with whomever he met. He was an introvert, but had a sense of humour once you got to know him. He was more cerebral than most men, he had been that way his entire life; a thoughtful person who took greater pleasure in helping others than himself; he attributed this attitude due to him being Canadian. Now twenty one years old, he had taken a year off near the end of high school to work full time and help his mother out with some unexpected expenses.
Marc had dated a couple of girls back home in Quebec but he was most content simply playing sports; especially wrestling. Wrestling appealed to him because it was him versus another man, he had to constantly push himself to the greatest physical heights in order to adapt to the competition and continue to win. He had successfully done so in the past, but he knew that college would bring fiercer competition and more daunting demands on his abilities than ever before; he was up for the challenge.
“So, what’s the game plan?” Isaac asked. “Want to head to the campus watering hole and grab a pint?”
It was evident that the entire team would not be heading anywhere together as a full group. College was a busy time and a busy place, everyone’s schedule was tight and free time was generally fragmented.
“Naw, sorry I am going to have to pass,” replied Marc. “I need to head to the library and get some research done for an essay that is due in a few days.”
“Alright suit yourself. I will see you in chemistry class on Thursday,” Isaac continued.
“Yeah sounds good,” returned Marc.
Isaac started to work the rest of the dressing room hoping to get at least a couple of his hockey mates to join him at the bar. Marc was sure Isaac would find some willing participants without much effort.
The drive to the school library was a short one, the campus was conveniently located near the arena and it took no more than ten minutes to pull into the parking lot. Marc’s hockey team had consisted of a bunch of schoolmates who simply enjoyed the sport and wanted to play the game in a fun, though slightly competitive atmosphere.
Marc and the others had responded to a flyer that had been posted on the school bulletin in an effort to locate interested players. Their league had provided what it had advertised and regardless of their teams success it had been worth participating. Hockey was not a big draw in Florida, it hardly compared with the obsession for the sport that Marc experienced in Canada. Luckily the opposite was true for wrestling; it was a reasonable draw at the college level.
Marc made the climb to the 3rd floor of the library. He needed to get some information for his essay on a biological function of the brain; and the process of thinking; specifically the firing of neurons and their relationship with the synapse. Marc had quickly learned how complex the brain was during the numerous biological courses that he had taken in high school and now in College. He always had an interest in biology, though he had never needed to research such granular details of the brain before.
He had been told by Isaac that he needed to go to the third floor and he would find more than enough research papers on the subject, along with some detailed science books that would outline the thinking process in more detail.
Marc opened the door to the third floor, which way to go? He asked himself. He decided on a sharp right turn and walked to the nearest aisle, passing the help desk that was conveniently placed near the entrance. Marc generally liked to find things on his own, whether he was in a grocery store aisle searching for one specific item or even if he was lost somewhere in a new city, he rarely asked for assistance or directions. This was a function of both his desire to be independent and also his quiet nature.
As he entered the aisle he quickly realized that none of the titles related at all to biology, it was evident that he was in the wrong section. He also noticed another student standing in the middle of the aisle.
She was attentively perusing the bookshelf on the right side of the aisle, evidently also searching for a book.
She offered a courteous glance in Marc`s direction as he walked towards her. Marc received a slight shiver when their eyes met and almost in unison they both glanced down and slowly back up at one another. She was well dressed in casual dress pant and a short sleeve red top. Her brown hair had a natural wave to it which complemented her milky, though flush complexion. He was unsure if her eyes were blue or green as he did not want to stare too intently or for too long but he also didn’t stop walking in her direction.
She looked back at the bookshelf in front of her and eased up on her shuffling through the books, she was aware that Marc was walking towards her. Marc was perspiring slightly, he was unsure why, but he was embarrassed that he was walking forward down an aisle that he knew did not have the research information he was looking for. She doesn`t know that I am lost, he thought to himself. Still he felt uneasy and embarrassed, yet uncharacteristically he looked back at her. She smiled gently at him, the shivers returned.
Marc smiled back… or did he? He forced out a hybrid between a smile and a smug look as he pulled his eyes away from her and looked ahead to the end of the aisle. He was still perspiring, he was still unsure why. He slinked by her, in the process his backpack which he had been carrying with him banged against his head as he pulled it up. It made a thumping sound when it touched his head that Marc thought was louder than it really sounded, it didn’t help his confidence at this moment.
The girl pushed her body closer to the bookshelf to give ample room for Marc to pass, and he did so successfully. Marc walked quickly to the end of the aisle and then he slowly looked up at the shelves of books, he mimicked the woman’s position by shuffling through the books on the right side of the aisle.
He looked to his right slightly in the direction in which she was standing. Was she looking at me? He noticed that most of the titles all had either “law” or “legal” in them. Oh great, she is a law student, he must have broken some law by loitering in an area that he knows contains nary a book that pertains to him. I know, I can take a book off of the shelf and simply move to the next aisle, seemingly searching for my book, he thought. This idea was quickly extinguished; Marc was too honest a person to even lie to himself, he wouldn’t be able to make it work, especially if he didn’t believe it himself. Well, I can just simply slip away…but he didn’t.
As he stood there, somewhat bewildered as to why he had not simply left the area, he could feel her eyes casually focusing on his image, the hair on his neck had now risen. His mood was changing from nervousness to desperation. Her simple smile and her body language invited him to speak to her, but what could he say? He tried to quietly clear his throat…
“Umm, err, excuse me.” She looked at him with eager anticipation, awaiting his next words. “I-I am looking for the biology books, my friend told me I could find them here, but it seems I am in the wrong section. Do you happen to know where I could find them?” Marc had not exactly blurted all of this out, but his pace was quicker than usual.
They were now face-to-face. He noticed that she had very long eye lashes and her eyes were in fact green, an emerald green. Most would say that she was rather plain looking in many respects, but something about her drew Marc in; he did not view her as being plain at all. She wore no make-up, wore nothing in her hair, but made up for this simplicity with her well designed clothes and the beauty emitted from her eyes and her smile. Her simplicity was simply beautiful.
“Oh yeah, your friend was right about the floor but you are in the wrong library, this is the West wing, you need the East wing library,” she sympathetically stated.
Of course! Marc thought to himself. Isaac had told him this but since he routinely went to the West library he naturally went there on this occasion.
“Ahh ok, that makes sense,” his eyes didn’t break from hers. Come on Marc, say something, you must have some line you can use, his mind was racing now.
“Well, thanks for the help,” he told her without any creativity.
“Yes, not a problem at all,” she retorted, still they looked at each other.
Marc had to think of something, he needed to speak but he didn’t know what to say, he had never been good at meeting new people, particularly women who made him shiver.
“Umm, are you in one of my classes, I think I have seen you before,” he claimed.
“Oh really?” she stated rhetorically. “Well, I am in nursing so I do take some biology courses,” she replied.
“Yes yes! That must be it,” Marc was excited to hear her major was the same as his, he had lucked out with his fib.
“I am a Senior, how about you?” She asked. That information now nullified his claim that they had been in the same class as they were obviously in different college years. Marc had to recover, and as he usually did he relied on honesty.
“Oh, I am in my Junior year so I must have been mistaken,” he stated truthfully. “You just looked familiar I guess. Well thanks again.” The reply was forced.
“Umm, yeah of course, never a problem,” she was searching for the words herself now. “By the way my name is Stacy,”she extended her hand. As with her glances, her hand was warm in addition to being soft, to catch her glance was one thing, but to actually touch her forced Marc to maintain his composure, he was sure she could notice he was sweating.
“Nice to meet you Stacy, I’m Marc. With a C not a K he explained,” providing more information than she really needed. He was speaking but not truly considering what was he was saying, it all just awkwardly rolled off his tongue. He was relishing shaking her hand, he could not remember feeling so uncomfortable meeting someone, but yet, feeling so comfortable when he finally did. He didn’t want to leave; he wanted to extend this greeting as long as possible.
“So are you also studying law?” he asked innocently. Her face contorted slightly.
“Ah no, I am just helping out a friend, uh, they wanted me to find a particular book on corporate law for them,” she expressed.
Oh, he thought, “a friend”. He immediately assumed she was spoken for and his passion wavered a bit.
“I see…ok…” they stared at each other some more. Stacy’s face had relaxed and she breathed out a deep breath of air, Marc was breathing heavy also. They were sharing common ground, there was a strong attraction between them, one Marc had never felt before, it made no sense, but it was real, he could feel it.
As much as there was a pleasing chemical reaction going on in his head there was also an odd feeling of fear as well; butterflies, worse than what he would normally feel before a match on the wrestling mat.
“Nice to meet you Stacy, you have been a great help,” Marc declared.
“You’re welcome,” Stacy’s voice trailed as Marc reluctantly walked on.
“SEE YOU AROUND,” she half yelled with an extended lean as he opened the door to the stairway. Her breathing hadn’t normalized yet.
She felt as if she had just been on a great first date. She felt guilty with the thought of her boyfriend Dave, but this response that her body formulated was not within her control, regardless of how impractical their meeting had been, since she had a boyfriend, she couldn’t stop thinking of him already and he had only just left. Dave and she had not been getting along for some time, but she still did feel guilty. He was absolutely gorgeous, but it was more than that, she could not put it into words, but their chance meeting had felt right, as if not by chance at all.
Marc sluggishly walked down the steps. What was that all about? He thought. His butterflies had not yet subsided, he was not feeling excited, as Stacy had felt, he was feeling empty and angry at himself.
Why couldn’t I just ask her if she had a boyfriend? Why couldn’t I talk about nursing more, it was an obvious common interest, how could I be so stupid? He was blaming his shyness and his awkward behaviour for preventing him from trying to connect with her at that moment he needed and wanted to.
Marc found his book and some research papers at the East Wing. He was now in a fog searching for the material, his mind constantly running back to the meeting he had with Stacy; reliving it over and over in slow motion, complete with different responses he now wish he had made.
His drive home was slower than usual as he remained preoccupied with his thoughts. More questions went through his head, “why didn’t I just turn back and ask her the questions I knew I should have asked?” He was hating himself at this moment. Maybe she didn’t feel the same, but I KNOW she was looking at me with more than a fleeting interest, he thought. He had to stop beating himself about it. If it was meant to be, they will meet again he figured. It was small consolation at that moment but it would have to suffice.
“Wow, sometimes Mr., Jackson can really drag that class on and on,” Isaac complained.
Marc didn’t respond.
They walked side by side to their respective dorms, the warm sun beating down on them as the birds sang them a song along their route, it was a time of joy; for most anyway.
“I enjoy chemistry as much as any budding pharmacist, but he has this passion for it that defies logic. I bet he would prefer to stare for hours at a beaker of liquids interacting rather than accept 50 yard line seats to the Super Bowl,” Isaac stated.
“Yeah, hehe,” Marc replied half-heartedly.
Isaac silently watched Marc as they walked along; he was processing his body language.
“Alright, I am not Dr. Phil but something is wrong with you. Tell me what’s going on?” Isaac demanded accusingly.
“Hmmm? Nothing, nothing, I am just tired,” Marc replied.
“Now I know you are not a big talker, but that isn’t going to cut it, I have sensed a change in you over the last couple of days; something isn’t as it should be with you. If you don’t want to tell me, I understand, especially if it is a personal circumstance you feel you need to handle alone, but I am here for you if you need to talk,” Isaac assured him. Marc clammed up for the moment.
They continued to walk in silence for a few more metres before Marc capitulated.
“I don’t know how to tell you without sounding strange; it’s awkward for me to explain.” Isaac listened without saying a word.
“Well, I would normally say it isn’t anything but I would be lying so I will simply lay it out for you.
Remember that day I went to the library to do my research?” Marc asked rhetorically. Isaac nodded his head, still without uttering a word, his face now slightly perplexed. “Well…well I met this girl at the library. Her name is Stacy, I know she is majoring in nursing and I know she is a Senior. I don’t know much else, but I know that we connected during the ten minutes we chatted,” Marc was exhausted just talking about it, but it was a weight off of his chest.
Isaac took a moment to absorb what he was being told. He would generally not make much of this event except he knew that Marc had bottled this up for nearly a week. He knew this not only based on the timing but on the obvious change in Marc’s demeanour.
“Well, why don’t you find her again?” Isaac replied bluntly.
“That’s the problem,” Marc was relieved that Isaac hadn’t thought him weird, or at least didn’t show it if he did. “I have gone back to the library twice and basically walked around like a zombie hoping to bump into her again. Hell, I met her in the law section, I have no business hanging around the law section but I went back there anyways,” Marc stated.
“The law section in the West wing library?” Isaac asked puzzled.
“Yes it’s a long story; I went to the wrong library. The bottom line is I felt a connection with her and I am driven with this desire to meet with her again, to talk to her,” Marc concluded.
Isaac was absorbing this with interest, thinking of a way in which to help his friend but also to fully understand how a ten minute meeting with a girl could mean so much to Marc.
“I don’t know what to say. Look at it this way, you will meet again if it is meant to be; if not, then cupid has bigger plans for you,” Isaac stated matter-of-factly. Marc realized it was precisely what he had reasoned, it helped, but he was looking for an answer that he knew Isaac could not provide.
“Yeah I know, and you are right. It’s just difficult to get her out of my mind, the chemistry was just there. It felt so so right, and I know she experienced it as well,” Marc reasoned. “It was one of those moments I wish I could have back, and that is part of the reason I have been so down. I didn’t or couldn’t be as bold as I would have liked to, and I don’t know if I will meet her again,” Marc claimed.
“If you had been the type of guy who was prone to being more bold you probably wouldn’t have had that chemistry. You’re a great guy Marc and she probably saw what most women see in you. I would trust you with my sister if you weren’t so good looking,” Isaac offered with a smile. This caused Marc to smile as well; Isaac always knew what to say to make him feel better.
“Hey, don’t get me wrong, I trust you Marc, I just wouldn’t trust my sister.” Marc rolled his eyes and blushed ever slightly. He was glad that he had elevated the weight off his chest and for the moment anyway, he felt content with the “if it is meant to be it is meant to be” theory.
4 PM IN GYMNASIUM C. BE PREPARED WITH YOUR SHOES, PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT AND WORK ETHIC.
WEIGHT DIVISIONS WILL BE ESTABLISHED BEFORE THE FIRST MEET IN TWO WEEKS.
COACH DOUG HENDERSON.
With that Marc read his first email communication from his new wrestling coach. He had met him early in the year for a brief meeting. All of the scholarship students met their coaches before the start of training to lay down the ongoing requirements. Their team would be a reasonable size for a small school. There were three other teammates of his who were in that meeting and coach Henderson made it crystal clear what was expected of them. Marc liked a coach that did not allow slackers, he expected effort. In his opinion results would follow their effort; Marc concurred.
Marc parked his nine year old Mazda and grabbed his equipment bag as he had done so many times before. He bought his car for a good price from a local who cut him a break since he was a student and a foreign student at that. The odometer read 245,000 clicks, but it provided him with a means of travel from point A to point B. He was on an extremely tight budget and had already begun to apply for various jobs on campus.
As he entered the gym at 3:50 there were approximately fifteen other teammates milling around.
Coach Henderson was already looking down at his watch anticipating his wrestlers to be there early. It was evident that he expected punctuality, Marc felt uncomfortable getting there ten minutes early, twenty minutes early would have allowed him to relax a bit more, given him time to get settled in. Marc took a seat at the end of the bench and smiled at the student sitting to his immediate right.
At exactly 3:58 Coach Henderson cleared his throat. “I have met some of you already, others have been here before and know what to expect. If you are new you will quickly learn what my expectations are.
You are here to represent our school, you are here to represent our program and you are here to represent yourselves and all the others who influenced you to excel at the purist athletic sport known to man. I will not tolerate a lack of effort or focus.” Coach Henderson continued without missing a beat as one final wrestler dragged himself quietly to the end of the bench, coach Henderson’s glare suggested that the student was 30 minutes late, not right on time as he had been.
“We are a team. When you are alone on the mat you are responsible for your effort and commitment, and no one will undermine these efforts or they will not be on the team. This is my 25th year coaching this program and each one of you would not be on my team if I had not accepted your selection. We have a population a tenth of some colleges, yet, I have four state championship banners hanging from the rafters. This isn’t because I am a great coach; in fact, I am probably a subpar technical coach. The reason we win is simple: I choose men of character who leave everything on the mat. Win or lose, this will define who you are on the mat and in life.”
Marc was absorbing every word. It wasn’t just the words but the manner in which Coach Henderson spoke them. He sounded like George Patton leading his men into battle with their lives in the hands of each decision he made, and they hadn’t even had a practice yet.
“Today will be a short practice, weigh in and laps. We will meet here at 5 pm once a week for a mandatory practice, sometimes we will have optional practices which will be conveyed by email. Come prepared to work hard. I don’t want excuses and I don’t want you coming to practice hung-over or unwilling to give 110%. Noone, and I mean NOONE will sabotage my program.”
Noone in the gymnasium doubted that he meant it.
One of Marc’s teammates stood up from the middle of the pack.
“Dave this is everyone, everyone this is Dave. He will be the captain of this team once again. Dave finished third in the state in the 185 lb. division last year, and if he had another 30 seconds he might have been state champion,” Coach Henderson stated proudly.
Dave was in the same weight class as Marc. He was taller than Marc with dirty blonde hair and a perfect complexion. He smiled with a full set of perfect pearly white teeth and nodded acknowledgement of his status to his teammates.
“Ok, into the locker room and be prepared to weigh in,” Coach Henderson clapped his hands to signal everyone to leave.
One by one his teammates stripped down to their underwear and walked up the scale. “175!” “192!”
Screamed the coach’s assistant as he weighed each student one by one and each wrestler followed his weight with their name for Coach Henderson. Marc could not help noticing that his teammates were in much better shape than he had experienced in the past teams he had been a part of. Not one of them was a soft spot, if Coach Henderson chose his team on character alone as he had stated, he did a pretty good job also choosing a team built like they meant business.
Marc watched as Dave walked up to the scale with a stoic posture. “184!” screamed the assistant.
Coach Henderson wrote in his notebook each students weight without looking up. It was now Marc’s turn; he stripped off his shirt and walked to the scale. His shoulders and arms were in perfect proportion to his waist. He had little body fat and powerful barrel-like chest; the classic wrestling build that had been developed by a combination of his efforts in the gym and the good graces of God. If Marc had respected the conditioning of his teammates, one could only imagine how they sized him up. He was obviously a cut above the rest in terms of his conditioning and size. If he was going to be beat on the mat it would not be due to a lack of strength or physical attributes.
“185!” yelled the assistant. Coach Henderson looked up impressively at Marc. “With your build and strong frame you might be a good candidate for the 190 class Marc.”
Marc was surprised that he had remembered his name let alone had faith in him being able to wrestle in the 190 class, a weight class above his normal range.
“Ok,” Marc replied succinctly.
It was Monday, the first real practice for the team after last week’s practice consisted of the weigh-in and the subsequent lap running they had experienced. This was a standard procedure of Coach Henderson each year. Force his team to get accustomed to hard work right from the start. No techniques were discussed, no sparring, just a good old fashion run-until-you-drop exercises. To a man, one by one, each wrestler dropped from exhaustion, without exception. He was mentally and physically prepared for practice, and he knew that the coach was a no nonsense type of coach which suited Marc fine. He had taught so many winners for a reason and Marc wanted to do his best.
As a team they only had two practices before their first meet. The wrestling season was not for the weak of heart; if you were not prepared from day one you would lose valuable points that you needed over the course of the season. These points accumulated and determined which schools would be invited to various tournaments during the current year and sometimes even the following year.
If the team had a good year that was one thing, but wrestling really is an individual sport. Any successful wrestler needed to finish high in some of the key tournaments in order to compete at the State championship tournament. If they succeeded there they would compete at the crème de la crème; the Nationals. Outside of an Olympic gold medal, this was the pinnacle for any wrestler, it is a pure amateur sport Greco-Roman, not like the wrestling that was seen on TV. It was exhausting and unrelenting, no cameras or bright lights, just two men trying to control and manipulate the body of the other.
The first meet would be against Bakersville. As fortune would have it, they had the luxury of competing in front of their home crowd for their first tournament as a team. This would not be especially advantageous to Marc as he knew very few students at the school, but it would at least provide the random spiritual support that would calm the butterflies as he and his teammates would experience plenty of support from the crowd.
As coach Henderson wanted to accumulate as many points as possible during the season, he divided his team into as many different weight classes as possible to maximize their point totals. As an example, if two wrestlers each fought in a particular weight division they could both meet in the finals and obtain 10 points for first and 7 for second, as obviously, one of them would have to lose. If he instead divided those same two athletes into different weight categories, they could both potentially finish first in each class, gaining a total of 20 instead of 17. It was a calculating and shrewd move on Coach Henderson’s part. He had to do his best to project which athletes would be most successful at different divisions in order for the strategy to work as there were not enough divisions to avoid at least some overlap; two or more athletes in one division.
As he was directed by the coach, Marc was wrestling at 190; only one other athlete on his team shared his weight class. The 185 pound weight class, Marc’s natural weight; was left for Dave as he was considered the most solid potential for a first place finish. Marc’s class would be more difficult due to the increased weight, but he could not worry about this. He did as he always did; prepare the best he could and leave it all out on the mat.
Marc wasn’t sure if Isaac would be in the crowd or not. He told Marc that he would try to make it but he had a test that he needed to study for which might prevent him from showing up. Marc encouraged him to focus on his test, there would be a couple of other meets before the end of the season, and Isaac could always cheer for him then.
The crowds at the school assembled on balcony’s overlooking the wrestling mats; their school could fit approximately 350-400 fans, they had a near full house on this night. There were three mats in the gym lined up from one end to the other so each wrestler would hear his name called out to signal that it was his turn to get onto that mat. As this was a meet against only one other school, and not a tournament format; Marc had two opposing athletes in his class to wrestle and the points would be awarded for a win, no points for a loss. He knew that it would only be two matches and not the potential for more (or less) even if he won a match.
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