Pride in the press box

By on February 24, 2016

One of my all-time favorite stories about my son, Brooks, happened several years ago while he was still in elementary school.
He happened to be reading an article about the 1998 baseball season, in which Mark McGwire broke the single-season home run record previously held by Roger Maris. Some might argue that Maris’ record is the one that still counts, just as Hank Aaron should still hold the all-time record.
But I digress.
Anyway, Brooks promptly looked up from the article and said that someday, he would break McGwire’s record. Trying to be the supportive father and all, I replied that I was looking forward to seeing him accomplish it.
His response to me was, ‘Sorry, dad. But you won’t be around to see it. You’ll probably be dead by then.’
I think he was calling me old. Ouch.
Brooks continued to play baseball through his eighth-grade year before hanging up his glove … and, I guess, retiring his dream of shattering the single-season home run mark.
His passion for playing the sport had faded to the point where it was no longer in the top three. Those spots now belonged football, wrestling, and … ahem, gym class badminton. C’mon, man. Really?
The first two, I get. But gym class badminton? He might as well have just told me he’d rather play Dungeons and Dragons.
Well, last Saturday, my worlds of family and job converged at Hempfield High School at the District Three Triple-A Section Three Wrestling Tournament. I’ve covered 20-some Sectional Tournaments in my career, but this time I was in the unique position of watching my son as both a dad and reporter.
And when he cradled up Elizabethtown’s Connor Hileman twice for back points and won his 182-pound preliminary round match 11-9, I had to remind myself that I was sitting at the media table with LNP’s Dave Byrne, that I had to be professional and refrain from cheering.
Inside, though, I was bursting with a sense of pride that every wrestling parent has experienced while watching their son or daughter either succeed or fall on that island in the middle of the mat. There’s nowhere to hide in wrestling. It’s just you and your opponent with lots of people watching.
Somewhere, it dawned on me that Brooks was just a couple wins away from competing on the floor of the Hersheypark Arena in Districts.
The fact that he didn’t make that level this time in no way diminishes my pride for Brooks. But nevertheless, both Warwick and Manheim Central overall had performances that were simply phenomenal, sending a combined 12 wrestlers to Chocolatetown this Friday and Saturday.
Has it really been four years since Devin Schnupp made his varsity debut at Lancaster Catholic, beating a really good wrestler in his own right in Joe Lobeck, 7-6. Considering Devin just set the school record for career wins, shattering the previous mark of 147, just a couple months after announcing that he has accepted a preferred recruit offer with Penn State University, his stellar career has easily lived up to the lofty expectations that greeted him as a high school freshman.
Guys like Evan Clark, Mateo Chacon and Ryan Stewart are leading the new wave of stars to don the red and black singlet for the Warriors. I couldn’t help but to get a kick out of Ryan’s candid honesty after he beat McCaskey’s Justin Boyer for his first Sectional title, saying his game plan was to stall in the first period, because that’s what heavyweights do, and then take it to his opponent in the second and third periods.
Then there’s Jared Siegrist, the undisputed top dog for the Barons. Like Schnupp, a returning PIAA State medalist from last year, he has taken the best shots that his opponents have to offer and turned them all aside. The amazing thing to me as I watched his finals match against Penn Manor’s Jack Zimmerman, was just how dominant he was against a top-notch wrestler.
I mean, Zimmerman’s 27-3 this season, so he is certainly no slouch. Yet Siegrist, who has handed him two of his three losses this season, went after him and won. Easily.
With our local schools, Schnupp and Siegrist are the two most talked about in regards to possible deep runs in the State Championships. First things are first, which means taking care of business at Districts this weekend.
And hopefully, both Warwick and MC will have multiple representatives walking through the tunnel and onto the mats at the Giant Center. It’d be a great ending to a a great winter season, one which included District Duals appearances for both teams.
You might even that it would be a home run.

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