Wednesday, December 19, 2001
When the high-school winter sports season began in mid-November, I knew I was in for a challenge.
Expanded sports sections, late-night events, treks to the mountain, and a total unfamiliarity with one of the four sports, would inevitably alter my life until March.
But I wasn’t as concerned about the extra writing, lack of social life or icy roads as I was with my lack of understanding about the sport of wrestling.
I’ve had friends who have wrestled. I’ve watched wrestling on TV — Olympic and, unfortunately, the WWF.
I even had people tell me during my high school days that I should become a wrestler.
But, for some reason, I never took the time to learn the many intricacies of this challenging, time-honored activity.
What a difference a meet makes.
I attended HRV’s manhandling of league-champion Gresham last Thursday not knowing quite what to expect. But when I walked out of the gym, I couldn’t contain my enthusiasm — along with about 400 other crazed wrestling fanatics, which was by far the largest crowd I’ve ever seen occupy the bleachers at HRVHS.
I have discovered this town’s main attraction.
People have told me about the school’s rich wrestling tradition — a program which Coach Mark Brown wrestled for and won fourth in state in 1980. I know of the burgeoning “minor league” system at Airtime Wrestling. But this big?
The parking lot was full, programs were scarce, and there wasn’t an empty seat in the house — unless you count the upper bleachers, which have been retracted for years and have more dust on them than my college textbooks.
Brown tells me his goal is to fill the entire upper section — “Sell the whole place out,” he said.
People have told me how engaging a wrestling match can be, but never did I imagine the accelerated pace or tactical nature of the sport.
The competitors are much like military generals, carefully mapping a strategy and trying to outsmart — and outquick — their opponent.
And just like good military officers, these guys are intense with a capital “tense.”
Some are wound tighter than others, but as I quickly learned, those who want it more, win most. If the opponent shows even the slightest sign of weakness, these gunslingers go for the jugular.
But the wrestlers weren’t half as intense as the crowd, which erupted with every takedown, reversal and near fall. And when HRV earned a fall, the resonating echo of cheers resembled the Kingdome during the Raider Buster days.
It’s no wonder. The anticipation and sheer entertainment value are unparalleled. To add to the spectacle, the gym is kept dark, illuminated only by a soft-glowing mat light.
The competitors, with hoods drawn over their faces like prize fighters, enter the arena to the sound of “Eye of the Tiger” and spar with one another until the introductions, handled by the articulate, energetic wrestling coach and USWOA referee Keith Bassham.
Bassham also takes care of the play-by-play, and by the sound of it, he could be the Dave Neihaus of wrestling broadcasters.
This wasn’t just a sporting event, it was a production. I would happily pay the $4 admission if I didn’t already have matside privileges.
Instead, I think I’ll put my four bucks toward one of those slick new “Eagle Wrestling”
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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"
Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge