Thursday, January 17, 2013

Saturday Night Ride


              “Man, that guy is good. No way I’ll ever beat him.”
               My coach looked like I’d punched him in the solar plexus. “Blake, I don’t ever wanna hear those words come outta that mouth again, boy. You can beat anyone. No matter how much bigger they are than you.”

            It was the Big Ten Conference Championship Tournament, nearing the end of a long season.
We made our way to the top of the bleachers. I sat. Headphones in, eyes closed—focused. That's how we did it.
They called out the weight classes one at a time. The mats filled up, four matches at a time.
It smelt like a shoe store-- sweat drenched head gear, wrestling shoes worn one too many times, sweaty high school boys in spandex.
Even with headphones in, I still heard the whistles and buzzers on the time clock.
Weight class 103. 112. 119. 125. 130. 135. 140. 145. 152. 160. 171.
189.
It’s my turn.
           “Mat 4. Bo Carter,” I held my breath, “versus Blake Dunn.”
Crap. My heart started to race.
I lost to him every time. I’d never win, and I knew it. I didn’t even care, really. He was so much bigger than me; you could see the veins on his chest popping off his skin under the dull lights in the gym. He could wear a paper sack and you could still see his biceps. Bo was the king cobra in a mass of garden snakes. The strange thing was, this time, I wasn’t nervous. I didn’t have a care in the world about what was about to happen. I’d lose, he’d win, what’s new.
I stretched on the mat as my coach gave me a pep talk. I adjusted my head gear with the stench of dirty socks, cringing as it touched my face. I looked over at Bo. He was a bull. Red face, staring at the mat. His eyes creased as he jumped up and down slapping his hands on his chest setting his foot on the line across from mine. A bull ready to attack a matador.  I was in a court room and I had to face the judge. One last time.
               This would be over quickly.
               I stood with my right foot on the line, ready for my cue.
               The whistle blew.
               “Here we go,” I thought.
               We tied up. He pulled me toward him. I pulled back.
               He tried to pull me in, and it was hard to resist. It felt like someone had tied a rope around my waist and there were five guys on the other end pulling me.
               But I resisted.
               I resisted as his arms grabbed around my waist and he tried to pull me in closer to his body so he could pick me up and slam me down. I kept my hips out and my balance was on point. We were dancing until we danced out of the circle.
               The whistle blew.
               The referee was laughing and I let out a laugh of my own, but Bo… Bo didn’t laugh.
               We got back up to the line.
               The whistle blew.
               I got hold of his arm and neck to do a hip toss. I grabbed his upper body and flipped it over my shoulder.
               Bam. His body slammed the mat. Three points for me.
               He worked back to his knees and then to his feet again. He shot in on me for a takedown but I sprawled, kicking my legs back to avoid it. We were out of the circle again.
               The whistle blew.
               We got back up to the line.
               The whistle blew.
               We tied up. My hand on his sweaty neck, his hand on mine, we pushed and pulled trying to do the same maneuver at the same time. We shot at the same time and bumped heads. The sound resonated in my head, bouncing back and forth between each ear. I could feel the blood dripping from my nose; I could taste my salty sweat and the rigid iron in my mouth. I grabbed his arms and pushed into him as his back fell to the mat. I grabbed his head and his arm and wrapped his legs up like a ribbon on a Christmas gift. I had him in a Saturday Night Ride.
             It was like slow motion. The ref lay down next to us.
            My coaches went wild, jumping up and down.
            He waved his arm once.
He waved his arm twice.
He waved his arm for the third and final time.
He smacked the mat.
I won.
Blood gushed from my nose as I stood up. The ref grabbed my arm and raised it to the sky in victory.
I held out my hand to Bo, but he wouldn’t shake it. He walked off the mat.
I felt the urge to cry I was so happy. I ran to my coaches and hugged them, and remembered what they told me, “You can beat anyone. No matter how much bigger they are than you.”

I went back to the bleachers, tapping my feet on the creaking wood, waiting for my next match. If I won that, then I'd wrestle for first place. 
They called my name to the mat. 
Blake Dunn vs. Bryce Pence.
This would be easy. I beat him earlier in the season in 27 seconds. Flat. 
The whistle blew. He snapped me down like a mouse trap. 
Sixteen seconds later, it was over-- my whole season.

4 comments:

  1. I felt like I was listening to Daniel the entire time I read. What an unexpected ending! Loved it Bekah Boo :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow, what a great story. I loved it! Go, Daniel

    ReplyDelete