One of the first beats I received after arriving at the Cheney Free Press was covering local high school wrestling.
The town of Cheney and the sport of wrestling have both had a large impact on my life, so it was fitting that I should get to cover Cheney High School wrestling.
Unfortunately, I would come in in the middle of the season, having little knowledge of the wrestlers or the place of the team in the Great Northern League. All I knew is that the young Blackhawks were being guided by Brad Rasmussen, a man who I had the pleasure of knowing in high school. Brad, who wrestled for Cheney in his high school years – as well as an assistant coach – seemed to be fit for the role as the Walter Matthau to these not-so Bad News Blackhawks.
During this time Brad was also going through some trials of his own. His wife Holly had given birth to their son Levi prematurely. As little Levi lay in the hospital – growing stronger every day – Brad was working and managing a team. What I found so inspiring was how dedicated he was to all of the different aspects of his life, especially his son. As Levi continued to improve, Brad would use the words “baby steps,” which is something I use as I go through my own trials.
Brad isn’t the only Blackhawk who I’ve come to admire. Wrestlers like Vern Sanderson and Josh Wessels kept me on the edge of my seat as I watched them battle their opponents in a brutal contest to pick up the pin or decision victory. Josh will be going to the Mat Classic XVI to compete in the state championships. As for Vern, he was sick and missed regionals.
Although every member on the team had their triumphs during the season, Garrett Pederson, Kodi Smith and Devon Waterman are athletes who stand out in my mind. All three battled hard this season and went far in the postseason. Like Josh, Devon will be heading to state.
Going to the matches was a thrill. It took me back to my glory days – and by days, I mean one season – in wrestling where the long spotlight would shine on the mat and the two athletes would battle it out as the crowd cheered in the background. I never got to experience that atmosphere. The few matches that I had – when I was a skinny 119 pounds – were contested at the JV level, but there many times where I would stay to watch the varsity matches.
Aside from the problems that come with trying to shoot photos with the spotlight being the only light source, it felt good to return to those times.
Perhaps my only regret for covering wrestling this year was that I didn’t get a chance to interview Hannah Brown, the gal on the Cheney wrestling team. She placed fifth in her weight division in subregionals. There’s always next season.
As for right now, I wish Josh and Devon good luck at the state championships.