Letter to the Editor

Reader hails Bobcat wrestlers, laments weather situation last week

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

When the 2012 Bobcat Football season came to a close there were 12 young men that began making their way every day to the old gym after off-season workouts. They usually get there before the coaches and began setting up for practice. They carried and rolled out about 10 mats weighing 120-700 pounds, then clean and mop them without delay. Rarely do they pause in their routine, because they are ready to get to work. There is no time to waste. Not too far into the season a female joins the three-year old team for the first time. She practices just as hard as they do. Every one of these students, freshmen to seniors, spends hours on buses to go wrestle and get matches in, late nights finishing homework after getting home from a meet, and many of them must keep a very close eye on their weight because if you don't make weight you don't wrestle and the team loses points and it's a forfeit. These wrestlers put an amazing amount of force, drive, ambition and physical prowess into seconds or up to several minutes on the mat, win or lose. It is some of the most intense physical stamina and endurance you will ever see in such a concentrated amount of time. I have the highest respect, admiration and honor for these dedicated students, athletes and citizens of our community. I appreciate their support and encouragement of each other and their work together as a team. Every practice, every meet, every tournament is practice for one thing. When one of them doesn't win a match the consolation is --"Now you know for State", "Don't use that move on him at State" or "It is okay, you will beat him at State." Every wrestler's dream -- win at state. Friday, February 22, was The 5th Annual Arkansas State High School Wrestling Tournament. Berryville High School had 11 wrestlers set to wrestle for the dream, some for the last time. Tyler Coatney and Ross Morton were set to wrestle at the high school level for the final time. Tyler was the squad's highest seed, being 4th in his bracket, without a doubt coming home with some shade of medal.

Thursday night on my way out of Berryville to Little Rock, I cried as only five of the 11 on the Bobcat roster were allowed to go to the championship. As we drove out of town we left eight of the Bobcat Wrestlers behind and it broke our hearts. It was one of the hardest things my sons (and I) have ever experienced being involved in any sports.

You may be wondering why. Bad grades? NO. Bad behavior? NO. In trouble at home? NO.

This is why:

* The students were refused bus transportation to the tournament though highways were clear from snow early enough even Thursday night.

* The parents who were unavailable to go to Little Rock with their wrestler for two days were denied the right to give permission to another adult (of their choosing) to transport their child.

* Last, but definitely not least one of the top wrestling authorities in the state of Arkansas (I will leave out names, because it was a kind gesture not done for notoriety) offered our wrestling team a free, chartered, insured, professionally chauffeured round trip to Little Rock, all because he wanted to give these young people the opportunity to pursue a dream while striving for excellence.

Coatney, Morton, Reyes (seeded 6th), Parks, and Ramirez were robbed, and I would say King, but he was stuck home due to the condition of the gravel road to his house. As we pulled up to the Jack Stephens Center Friday morning, we saw busses from everywhere that wrestles in Arkansas including: Fayetteville, Springdale, Gentry and a bus that still had ice on the top. There are several other things I am disappointed in this situation, but I think this is the most prevalent that should be addressed. I hope that everyone reading this will support not only these wrestlers but any other students that may experience this type of situation again.

Congratulations Bobcat Wrestlers! You have worked hard this season and will carry what you have learned with you. Even this heartbreaking experience will teach you something. Someday there will be a similar situation and you will understand and be a hero for someone. Ross Morton, Tyler Coatney, Selvin Reyes, Jake Parks, Tristan Payne, Fernando Ramirez, Leanna Wilson, Justin King, Shane Hutchens, Joel Sipes, Dusty Robinson, Garrett Record and Griffin Payne...THANK YOU for making me hoarse for 4 months I will miss it!!! GO BOBCATS!!!

Thank you also to Coaches Seth Record and Blake Godwin for the dedication you have for these young people. The effect will continue with them throughout their lives.

-- LEELONNA PAYNE

Berryville