Wrestling is a sport of dedication. A basketball player can leave the gym and not have to worry about their sport at dinnertime. Wrestlers must be aware of their bodies and their actions and what impact it will have on them every second of the day during the wrestling season. If you eat too much spaghetti at dinner, you’re going to have to work harder in the wrestling room the next day or put in some more running to get rid of that weight. Not every wrestler has to deal with this all the time, but for many, being the best often means cutting to the lowest allowable weight so you can be at the top of your game.
I think that’s part of the reason why emotions run so deep at the state tournament. The guys celebrating state championship victories are realizing the fruits of a dedication that affected them every moment of their lives for the preceding four months and often for much of the year. The fans of wrestling are just as dedicated. With the advent of Trackwrestling, everyone from the most avid of fans to those just getting to know the sport can find out all the details on their favorite wrestlers and biggest rivals. For those of you unfamiliar with Trackwrestling, it is a program designed by former wrestler Justin Tritz that provides live updates of matches as they happen and then stores those results so one can access them years later. It started in Wisconsin and has spread across the country. There is no doubt it has done legions to promote the sport in Wisconsin and around the country by educating the fanbase on who the competition is, which just ups the excitement surrounding the sport.
This past weekend, I photographed the state tournament in Wisconsin for the Eau Claire Leader Telegram, the Duluth News Tribune and the Monroe County Publishers. It was a great trip back to the Kohl Center where I had spent numerous hours in college covering Badger basketball and hockey games and it was awesome seeing some of the guys who helped teach me what it meant to be a photojournalist in Joe Koshollek and Andy Manis. What made the tournament particularly fun was seeing Matt Tourdot from my hometown Spartans cap off a 50-0 season with a 7-0 victory in the finals over Lodi’s Cody Endres. I run a wrestling blog during the season at Spartanwrestling.com that covers the Spartans and it was nice to end the year on a high note.
The photos below are a mix of the three days’ action. Below are links to a few larger photo galleries from the state tournament, but after the links are my favorite images from three days in Madison.