Good week to think about the wrestlers
I still remember those wind-sprint drills in the Mac High gym, fighting through fatigue while our basketball coaches exhorted us to work harder. While cooling off, I would walk into the adjacent hallway to watch varsity wrestlers endure stamina-building drills that made our workout seem like a stroll through the tulips.
This is a good week to think about wrestlers.
Two MHS wrestlers won state championships Saturday at Memorial Coliseum in Portland, a first for McMinnville. They were senior Jared Sublet at 132 pounds and senior Tiger Paasch at 170 pounds. Junior J.T. Barner was runner-up at 152 pounds, and senior Bryce Branson was fifth at 120 pounds, with the MHS team winning fifth place overall.
Past Mac High wrestling champions include Delane Smith at 98 pounds (1953); Jeff Stuebing at 157 pounds (1976) and 168 pounds (1977); and Chris Jones at 148 pounds (1987).
In contrast to that good news, the International Olympic Committee executive board voted this month to eliminate wrestling from the Olympic Games beginning in 2020. Appeals are in the works, and a final decision is expected in September.
That’s right; they voted to eliminate wrestling from the Olympics. Quoting the Los Angeles Times:
“Wrestling was one of the original sports in the ancient Olympics in Greece, back when the Games were part of mankind’s transition to civilized society. The Olympics took the skills of war and survival and turned them into non-fatal contests with rules and rewards. Fighting, running, jumping and throwing became wrestling, boxing and track and field. Wrestling has been a core sport since the introduction of the modern Olympics in 1896.”
It took my thoughts to 1976, when our Jaycees Kid Wrestling program brought Jeff Stuebing and teammates to the MHS gym on a Saturday morning to demonstrate wrestling moves. That squirming mass of high-energy kids, all arms and legs, suddenly came to attention. All of us watched in wonder at a level of athleticism we’d never seen in that sport.
Stuebing went on to become a Pac-10 champion for the University of Oregon, gold medalist in the Pan American Games and a member of both Canadian and United States Olympic teams. He was in the first group inducted into the MHS Sports Hall of Fame.
So, congratulations to the Grizzly wrestlers and coach Shawn Keinonen. And a giant thumbs-down to the IOC executive board’s plan to discard this ancient sport from the Olympic Games.
Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@news register.com or 503-687-1223.