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Wrestling: The good, the bad and the ridiculous

February 12, 2013 - Troy Banning


We’re less than 48 hours away from the start of the traditional state wrestling tournament – Iowa’s version of an athletic party. This is our Super Bowl, our Final Four, our Daytona 500.

I wasn’t a wrestler growing up ... I preferred to actually eat during the winter months, but walking up to Wells Fargo Arena and seeing thousands of fans lined up to enter the doors each February is a breathtaking experience. It’s even better to walk right past them and through the press gate as they look an angrily, but I digress.

Why does this three-day tournament bring about such passion? Everybody has their preferred answer to that question, but I think it goes back to my first statement – wrestling is Iowa’s baby. It always has been and it always will.

Webster City’s five state qualifiers will surely have the butterflies churning in their stomachs at 2 p.m. on Thursday when the Class 3A first round gets underway. Jake Powers, Connor Larson, Dylan Fielder, Gavin Dinsdale and Landon Johnson all have aspirations of landing on the awards podium come Saturday night, and they all understand that to get there they must be better than they’ve ever been.

Guys, have fun with it. There’s a reason you’ve reached this point. Don’t forget that.

Simply put, go out there and do what you do best.


The West Marshall School Board voted 6-1 on Monday to allow its wrestling team to take part in Wednesday’s Class 1A state duals despite the moronic stunt the team members pulled off during last week’s regional duals.

If you haven’t heard (where have you been?), the wrestlers each wrote a letter on their arm, spelling out F---THEDONS! Prior to the start of the Trojans’ dual against Don Bosco.

Dumb, right?

Oh, it gets better.

The act itself was bad enough, but they also took a group photo and posted it to a social networking site. And once the cat was out of the bag …

West Marshall will be on the mats on Wednesday – I’m guessing the Trojans will have 90 percent of the crowd rooting against them – and the issue has created a great divide in the community and across the state.

A large contingent goes with the theory of boys will be boys and they’ve already been punished enough because of all of the bad press. This group says we, as a society, need to quit being so sensitive. Wrestling is a man’s sport; it’s not for crybabies.

Sorry, that argument is as stupid as the actual stunt.

Sitting the individuals for the state duals would have been the right call. If I had been the coach, I probably would have asked for their singlets and head gears on the spot.

You want to teach these boys how to be men? Then show them that actions have consequences.


Wrestling was dropped from the Olympic program in a vote by the International Olympic Committee on Tuesday, a move that shocked, saddened and angered guys with cauliflower ears from here to Iran.

When was the last time the U.S. and Iran agreed on anything? Well, now they have a common fight.

The IOC cut wrestling in order to keep sports such as modern pentathlon, kayaking, tae kwon do, rhythmic gymnastics … well, you get the point.

Does anyone know a single thing about the modern pentathlon? I didn’t, but a quick Wikipedia search tells me it’s a sport that consists of five events – pistol shooting, fencing, 200-meter freestyle swimming, show jumping and a 3-kilometer cross country run.

Yeah, because all of those things go hand-in-hand; I often find myself wishing I could fire off a couple rounds before I begin my laps in the pool.

Wrestling goes back to the first modern Olympics held in Athens, Greece in 1896. And here in Iowa, this is a personal slap to the face.

Dan Gable – the Michael Jordan of wrestling (sorry John Smith and Cael Sanderson) – has vowed to fight this move, which would begin with the 2020 Games. Tom Brands has made similar statements, among others.

Will a bunch of angry men make a difference? The odds are unlikely, but I’d never count Gable out of a fight.


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