The Saratoga Sun -

Taking photos is easier


The last time I walked into the Event Center in Casper was for the State Wrestling Meet exactly 20 years ago. Back then I was a contestant in the meet and all the teams came through the doors in the back of the complex. All the busses for all the teams in the state still line up in this parking lane to drop off wrestlers, coaches and team managers. The meet brings 2A, 3A and 4A classes from the entire state, from as far off as Jackson and Saratoga. The spectators enter the complex from the front doors and buy single, double or all-sessions passes at the box office in order to watch their favorite grapplers.

In 1993, I was a junior at Cheyenne Central High School. Twenty years later, I showed up as the sports reporter for your favorite newspaper, the Saratoga Sun.

This time I came in through the spectators entrance, but not to worry, I had my trusty press pass to expedite my entry.

The place was packed with competitors, coaches and fans just like 20 years ago. I quickly made my way down the stairs to the floor. Past the competitor’s entrance into the main arena.

There are nine mats laid out that take up all of the Event Center’s floor. Each classification gets three mats in order to wrestle the first four rounds as quickly as possible. There are 16 wrestlers in each weight class and the first three rounds take all day Friday. Friday night, the tournament is reconvened with “The Walk Of Champions.” The lights go out and each team is spotlighted as they walk to their place on the floor.

The place was packed, again, and the semifinals are wrestled after “The Walk of Champions”.

In order to stay on the championship side of the brackets, you have to win all of your matches. If you lose at any point, you move to the consolation side of the bracket. There, the best a grappler can do is third place. In the consolation side of the bracket, a competitor will have to win four or more matches in order to wrestle for third and fourth place.

If a wrestler keeps winning, he will only have to wrestle three times to make the championship match.

The places are one through six and if a competitor loses twice they are out of the tournament.

The floor was packed during the entire tournament with wrestlers, coaches and the media. On the south end of the complex is the warm-up mat for the grapplers that will be called next, just like it was 20 years ago.

“In the hole” wrestlers are warming up on the warm-up mat. The “on deck” wrestlers wait in the pit for the match to end on the mat they are assigned to.

The number for the mat they are wrestling on is held up as the match ends, and then the wrestler is up.

The escorts to the mats are the local Natrona County and Kelly Walsh cheer squads, just like it was 20 years ago.

Now is the chance, stay in the championship side of the bracket or go to the wrestle-back side.

At Friday’s conclusion, the wrestlers in the championship match have been decided and the brackets have been re-worked. They wrestle for first and second place Saturday night. The wrestlers on the consolation side have a lot more work to do Saturday.

The other side of the bracket has come to the semifinals of the consolation rounds. These wrestlers will have to win two more matches Saturday morning in order to wrestle for third and fourth places, just like it was 20 years ago.

Saturday morning is pretty hectic wrestling through the rest of the consolation rounds. Now there are even more people packed into the Event Center than there was on Friday.

If your in the Championship match, you wait all day to wrestle. The finals come later.

The last matches of the consolation rounds take up most of Saturday. There is a short break in the action and three of the mats are rolled up. There is now six mats for the fifth and third place rounds.

Now comes the time that everyone is waiting for. The crowds are going wild and it is deafening at this point in the Events Center. Third and fourth places are decided and now there are only three mats left on the floor. One for 2A, one for 3A and one for 4A.

It is time for the championships.

All the wrestlers who have won up to this point line the mats in their respective weight classes. This is called the face off, and it is the first time each wrestler sees the other. Their names are announced and they shake hands center mat. Each knows how hard the other has worked to get to this point. Each knows there can only be one champion. Just like it was 20 years ago.

Nothing has changed at the State Wrestling Meet except the price of a hot dog. It made me feel just like I did 20 years ago attending the meet. I just used a different entrance and didn’t sweat as much this time.

Thank you for reading and please remember to spay or neuter your pets.


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