Today was the second half of a two day wrestling tournament at Lee's Summit High School in Lee's Summit, MO. Overall, it was a good tournament for Liberty. Our wrestlers did much better the second day than the first, but it was not quite good enough to bring home the gold. Liberty placed 3rd, which is pretty good compared to the other teams who were there.
There were twenty-three teams from all over Missouri and a team who flew in from Idaho. While it made for a long weekend, I believe the experience was good for me, because I am still learning the in's and out's of coaching. I wrestled briefly in high school then switch to track and field; therefore, my wrestling expertise is limited. I have learned a lot from Liberty's head coach, Mike Hammer, and the assistants who have been around for quite some time.
One of the wrestlers at the tournament was the brother of US Olympic Greco Roman Wrestler, Spencer Mango. Spencer was nice enough to allow me to take a picture with, which could have been a better picture, but I was not going to say, "redo!" Spencer wrestled in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and his brother won first place at 125lbs. this weekend. Spencer Mango went to high school at Christian Brothers College in St. Louis, where he won state titles in 2003 and 2004. I have never met an Olympian before, but now I can cross that off my list.
Anyway, back to the tournament. Our wrestlers should have placed much higher than many of them did. About half of our guys placed either 3rd or 5th. There were multiple matches where our they made simple mistakes, which cost them the match. We have got some work to do when we get back from Christmas break. We have been drilling stand-ups, arm bars, and throws, but as soon as they get on the mat it seems like they forget everything we've drilled during practice. As I said before, we did well, but we should have done much better. After the tournament, they had an awards ceremony, where we received our 3rd place plaque.
I look forward to many more tournaments and duals with Liberty's wrestling team. It gives me a sense of accomplishment when I work with a kid in the wrestling room and see them succeed on the mat. There is something genuinely special about coaching that an individual cannot understand by teaching alone. Coaching allows you to see and interact with the students in a completely different environment and atmosphere, which helps establish and maintain those bonds in the classroom. It was always a highlight of my day when one of my wrestlers called me "coach" during class, rather than "Mr. Summit," which is what everyone calls me. I love teaching and I love coaching, there is no other job in the world that comes close to having the impact that teachers make in children's lives.