366 Days: Feb. 17-19

Sunday, February 19 — After a long weekend, I never left the house. I played Wii with the little girl and chilled out. This is always one of the longest weekends of the high school sports season, but it was a good one.

I’ll explain more in the Saturday post about the weekend. For today, it was just chill. Also, I realize that my daughter has a competitive streak that is beginning to rival my own. Wow. Now, how to harness that energy. Big question. This’ll be worthy of a lot of discussion and contemplation.

For now, however, she can lord over me the wins in Wii Sports Resort’s 100-pin bowling and swordfighting. I won in archery and a one or two games of bowling.

Saturday, February 18 — It is official: I can’t get a decent night of sleep in a hotel room. No matter how I set it up — with beer, without beer, relax until I fall asleep, work until I drop, etc — I never get a full night and it is never restful. For two nights, I literally got nothing. This one was much worse that other trips to Tacoma, even in a better area of Tacoma this time. I just never got enough winks to reset the batteries.

Thus, I was dragging ass to start the second day of Mat Classic. There was just one championship semifinalist left from the Harbor and the rest were assured of, at best, third place. It could be a long day or it could be a short one. It was a short one. Anthony Heller, who is just in his second year of wrestling, couldn’t get a move in against the eventual two-time state champion, Chelan’s Cole Schwartz, and lost by pin in the first round. That ended any Harbor hope for a state champion this year. Not Anthony’s fault, because he did everything he could to get there. He took third, which is a great result for him. And, it is a great story — two years of basketball, then two years of wrestling and he finishes with a state plaque inside the Elma wrestling room with a 3rd place notation. That’s a small way to get a little bit of immortality right there.

Aberdeen does the same thing in its wrestling room and it’ll add two more plaques to its wall, the first time since 2009. In all, 10 Harborites won medals on Saturday. That’s not a bad haul and not a bad way to finish the tournament. It could have been worse. It isn’t a shame to have no finalists in the state tournament. It only happens just a few times for Harbor schools. My fear that it may become a common occurrence at the Mat Classic. A few coaches and wrestling observers from the Harbor were pessimistic about the region’s prospects in the future. This will be a true wait-and-see scenario.

For me, the story went quickly. 40 inches of story done by 4 p.m. and what to do from there? Ah, easy — hit the road to Federal Way to coach the Aberdeen boys in the state 2A swim meet. A nice way to end the day, but not what I was expecting. When you spend two full days at the state wrestling tournament, you want the wrestlers you are covering to go all the way. There were several wrestlers who had the chance to do so, but in sports, nothing is guaranteed. On this weekend, it wasn’t in the cards for the Twin Harbors to have a state wrestling champion. It has happened, first time since 2004, I believe. My archives are a bit off on that.

Once the story was done, I was at King County Aquatic Center to see the second half of the state 4A swim meet and I was impressed. Not only are the times worthy of nationals consideration, many of those swimmers have a few more years to drop those times and contend for bigger prizes. Very impressed with the talent in swimming here in Washington state, which doesn’t surprise me.

Aberdeen finished with two top-four medals — third in the 200 medley relay and fourth in the 100 breast for Joseph Bowley in school-record time. Bowley outtouched his opponent for fourth by .02 seconds. That was cool. He’s worked extremely hard this season and his ceiling hasn’t been reached in terms of his swimming talent. Bowley, as well as several other juniors, have a shot at making a big statement at state next year.

All we have to do is find a way to bridge the gap between the part-time swimmers, which pretty much sums up Aberdeen’s team, and the year-round club programs that feed Sehome, Archbishop Murphy and other metro schools.

A cross-corner look at the Tacoma Dome during the warmup session before the Mat Classic XXIV, the state wrestling championships, on Saturday, Feb. 18. (RobRVR photo)

A cross-corner (and slightly out of focus) view of the King County Aquatic Center on Saturday, Feb. 18 during the WIAA State 4A Swimming Championships (RobRVR photo)

Sorry for the bad pic from KCAC. I didn’t realize it was that bad until I downloaded them today. If I knew, I would have tried to get a few more taken with my phone.

Friday, February 17 — Barely organized chaos in the first day of Mat Classic.

The media were given orange vests to wear for the duration of the tournament, in order to weed out the unwanted from the ground floor. Brutally unnecessary, to be honest. There will always be one or two parents to get down there and break the rules, but to paint the ones who are there honestly and don’t break the rules like that is unnecessary. I let them know with a few comments and moved on. I had a job to do.

You can always tell from the first round how the tournament is going to be for the weekend. For the Twin Harbors, the best weekends that ended with state champions at the podium were started with strong first-round showings. This weekend wasn’t one of them — 12-for-38 first-round wins. From those who survived the first round, only one was in line for a shot at the finals at the end of the day. Five wrestlers in the Class B tournament needed one more win to get a top-four medal and nine others, including two girls, were set for medals on Saturday.

The rest of the day was an exercise in futility. It is tough to watch matches fall by the wayside like that, but it does happen in wrestling. In 2004, the Harbor had 12 championship semifinalists to start the morning. I finished that day watching Andrew Dice Clay perform at the Emerald Queen Casino in Fife. It was a good concert and a good check-off on the bucket list. You can give me all the shit you want to, but I’ve been a Dice Clay fan since “Dice” came out in 1990.

It also didn’t help that I got no sleep the night before. I’ve never been able to get a good bit of rest in hotels and this night was no exception.

Ah well. At least I got to see wrestlers from several high schools use the hallways in the hotel as jousting lanes. Take two pillows — one in each hand — and run into your opponent. The one who falls down loses. I should have videotaped it, but I thought better of it. I felt creepy just thinking about it and I feel even creepier admitting to it here. That was late Thursday night.

(Editor’s Note: At this point, the author went and turned on the PlayStation3 to fire up some Saints Row: The Third. I’ll end this post now. It’ll be a light week, since a lot of basketball teams were eliminated over the weekend. No trips to Yakima this time. Have a good night. See you on the next installment.)

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