by Sam Shames
Three, Two, One, Time! I saw the referee wave two points for the takedown and two more for back points. That meant I won, 7–5. But then I saw my opponent’s coaches talking to the referees, and then the referee took away the back points, which meant only one thing: overtime. My coaches were furious; they believed I had won and let the referees know, yelling and cursing. I knew that they would not be able to change the call, and that overtime was coming.
A one-minute period in neutral, the first takedown would win, overtime. After 40 seconds of jockeying back and forth, I shot in on a takedown. My opponent sprawled his hips back, trying to defend against my attack. Then, right as the buzzer rang, I saw the referee wave two points for my takedown, the winning points. But, once again my rival’s coaches began arguing with the referees, saying that I did not have the takedown. After a quick conference, the referees changed their minds again; they took away the winning points for the second time in the match. My coaches went ballistic; they knew I had won twice. By the sound of their jeers, I guessed that the crowed agreed with my coaches, but it was my opponent’s hometown and there was no way to change the call. I now faced double overtime.
I lost the double overtime match, 7–5, with no controversy this time. My rival scored a two-point reversal and prevented me from scoring any points on bottom. The match was for the 103-pound championship in the Massachusetts Division One State Wrestling Tournament.
Right after I lost, I was upset, but not nearly as much as everyone else around me, and not for the same reasons. One of our team’s fans was so angry that he was ejected from the match. I knew that the calls had been unfair, but I was not upset at the referees. I was upset with myself. I had let the match be decided by the referees. My coach had told me that you can never let a match be close enough so that the referees have a chance to mess up the outcome. I had not listened to him. I knew that I could win against my opponent, but I was not aggressive and kept the match too close.
I was also not mad because I knew that I had two more chances to wrestle my rival. In the heat of the loss, I felt optimistic because I believed that I could win the next match. Even though I had every right to be furious, I kept my cool. I realized that the referees had just cost me the Division One State Title, and so did everyone else in the arena. But, while everyone was yelling and cursing, I did not show my frustrations. Instead, I shook my opponent’s hand and walked off the mat with my head held high, ready for our rematch the next week.
In 2009, I won the Massachusetts All-State Championship in the 103lbs weight class in the sport of wrestling.
It was February. The location was Salem High School. In double overtime, I beat my rival, the opponent who had beaten me for the division one state title the previous week. It was the biggest accomplishment of my life, the thing of which I am most proud. Even though the match only lasted eight minutes, the memory will live on forever.
When I was in my sophomore year, right before the season began, I wrote down a list of goals for the rest of my wrestling career. I did not have a very good freshman season; I had a record of 5–7. My lack of success did not, however, discourage me from continuing the sport that I loved. Instead, I worked harder than I had ever before to improve; I went to camps, clinics, and open mats. I lived, ate, and breathed wrestling. During the entire summer, I was wrestling at least four days a week, working with an assistant coach. So, right before my sophomore season began, I reflected on my hard work and set goals. I wanted to be an All-State Champion, the second ever from my school. I wanted to win a New-England title, the first ever in school history. I wrote down my goals and put them up in my room. I saw them everyday; they motivated me to continue my hard work. They reminded me why I was working so hard.
My sophomore year I only achieved one of my goals; I was a sectional champion. Even though I was proud of my achievement, I was not satisfied. I knew that I could achieve all of my goals and I was not going to stop working until I was successful. During the off-season before my junior year season, I continued to put in the hard work that had become second nature. In my junior year, it finally paid off. I won the All-State Title at 103lbs. I had finally achieved one of my largest goals, and right after I realized I won the match, I did not think for one second about all of the hard work that it took to get there. None of that mattered. I won, and I was proud.
The hard work and dedication that were necessary to achieve my wrestling goals have helped to shape me as a person. Wrestling has taught me the discipline that is required for success in any difficult endeavor. The constant hard work that I had to put in everyday in order to achieve my goal stays with me. I have been able to harness it outside of wrestling as well. The same dedication that I put into wrestling I am now able to use for any difficult task. I am now able to set a goal, and work hard everyday to make sure that I will reach it. In fact, I am still trying to meet my final goal: New England Champion. I continue to work hard everyday and to make the smart decisions that will ensure that I do not fail to achieve my final goal.