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One of the reasons why it was exciting to come to Duncan was the chance to see high school wrestling matches again.
I didn’t really pay attention to wrestling when I was in high school, so I didn’t know much about the sport. Then when I took my first newspaper job in Rocky Ford, Colo., I found myself in an area of Colorado where people really loved their wrestling.
It was then that I experienced high school tournaments for the first time. The action was non-stop, with multiple matches taking place at the same time.
Along the way, I experienced what duals were like. Over time, I learned about the significance of scoring, and how it got people excited if a wrestler on the home team secured a pinfall in one of the final matches.
What was really a great experience was witnessing the state tournament. Back when I worked in Colorado, the tourney was held at the former McNichols Sports Arena. I remember walking on the arena floor for the first time. I couldn’t believe I was on the floor of an arena in which my previous visits were as a spectator in the stands.
But what really caught my attention was how the state wrestling tournament was set up. Once again, multiple matches took place at the same time. Everything built up to the championship matches, which always drew a large crowd.
After five years in Rocky Ford, I took a job in Raton, N.M. The city’s high school didn’t have a wrestling program, so I lost touch with the sport.
Since coming to Duncan, though, I’ve had plenty of chances to experience what wrestling is all about. And it didn’t take long to find out how much people here get into the matches.
I’ve been to Duncan and Comanche and the atmosphere is pretty much the same. Fans start cheering and shouting as they watch two wrestlers go at it in a close-scoring match. You can feel the excitement when a hometown wrestler is close to securing a pinfall.
I’ve admitted to several people that I missed watching high school wrestling during my time in New Mexico. Now I’ve had the chance to experience it again — and it’s a lot of fun.
The season is winding down and regionals are coming up. It should be interesting to see which local wrestlers can go far in regionals and state.
One thing is certain: There will be plenty of excitement for area wrestling fans these final two weeks.