2008.03.12 Hanging out at the Palace

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

I’m in the Palace of Auburn Hills, sitting in the press section, and I’m waiting, waiting, waiting.

But right now I’m happy to be here. Morenci’s only entry in this year’s state wrestling tournament, Jeffery Nofziger, lost his opening match Thursday night, but he came back Friday morning with a win to stay alive—at least for one more match.

I drove up early Friday morning, expecting that he might wrestle at 10:15 a.m. at the earliest, but worried that it might go faster. It never does. I waited an hour and 40 minutes for Jeff to finally step onto the mat.

Now I’m waiting and watching for his next bout, but things are good. Jeff got his win, I’ve eaten my lunch and the crowd is getting livelier as the day progresses. Some wrestlers actually have fans doing cheers. When a dramatic reversal of positions occurs, the crowd erupts into a low roaring sound.

There are 12 matches underway simultaneously and it’s hard to choose which one to watch. So I try to read a book, but it’s easy to get distracted and look up to see what the cheering is about.

The heavyweights are going at it now. Some of these guys are enormously powerful, with enough muscle to exceed 285 pounds, but most of them are on the pudgy side.

For someone who’s not a true sports fan but writes about it for a living, I find great interest in watching for the—well, it’s not exactly a mismatch, it’s the variation in body types in the heavyweight bouts. The big, tall guy vs. obesity. Who has the advantage?

On mat #2, Muscle is losing 2-1 with a minute remaining. He needs to score a point. He manages to drive Pudge across the mat and knock him down, but they roll out of bounds and there are no points awarded. Pudge knocks Muscle down, Muscle is quicker and escapes, Pudge has him again and Muscle can’t move under all the weight. Pudge wins.

Two Pudges post wins in other matches, but there’s a Muscle over on mat #9 who pinned a Pudge. My study is inconclusive, but it looks like the Pudge had the advantage.

Now two Pudges are about to start. They plod onto the mat with slow, heavy steps and push each other around until someone loses his balance and then they’re both down with a thud. There’s a massive rippling of fat as they hit the mat and I imagine the Palace shaking.

There are reporters sitting nearby with their laptops open, supposedly writing stories. One guy is reading movie reviews. Another has been talking on his phone for what seems like an hour. Sometimes they disappear for great lengths of time, then return to laptops and check their e-mail.

I should have brought my laptop, but the book was lighter. I’m hauling a camera around, too, the sure sign of a small-town reporter.

When I tire of reading, I look up to watch my favorite referee. I’ve been following this guy for at least 15 years and I never tire of him. Everything is done with such a flourish as he quickly moves around the mat. He’s light on his feet, it’s almost like a dance.

He’s down on one knee, now he’s quickly back up. He backs off, he advances and leans right over the action looking down on the tangle of limbs. Suddenly he’s running to the other side and he throws himself down. His cheek is on the mat as he looks for a pin. An arm flies up to announce points. Soon both arms are furiously pumping to show a reversal.

There are also coaches to study—the screamers, the hand-pumpers, the consolers, the criticizers, the complainers. They all interact differently. When a loser throws down his headgear and stalks off, some coaches pick up the equipment, others order the wrestler back to fetch it.

In front of me is a wrestler who just lost. He’s bent over with his hands on knees and he’s crying. What’s this? His opponent has come over and he’s forcing him to stand up and look him in the face. The winner says something—how good a fight it was, I suppose—and then walks away.

In all my years of ref watching, Pudge studying and book reading, I’ve never seen such a thing before. I think I’ve just witnessed a miracle of high school sports.By DAVID GREEN

I’m in the Palace of Auburn Hills, sitting in the press section, and I’m waiting, waiting, waiting.

But right now I’m happy to be here. Morenci’s only entry in this year’s state wrestling tournament, Jeffery Nofziger, lost his opening match Thursday night, but he came back Friday morning with a win to stay alive—at least for one more match.

I drove up early Friday morning, expecting that he might wrestle at 10:15 a.m. at the earliest, but worried that it might go faster. It never does. I waited an hour and 40 minutes for Jeff to finally step onto the mat.

Now I’m waiting and watching for his next bout, but things are good. Jeff got his win, I’ve eaten my lunch and the crowd is getting livelier as the day progresses. Some wrestlers actually have fans doing cheers. When a dramatic reversal of positions occurs, the crowd erupts into a low roaring sound.

There are 12 matches underway simultaneously and it’s hard to choose which one to watch. So I try to read a book, but it’s easy to get distracted and look up to see what the cheering is about.

The heavyweights are going at it now. Some of these guys are enormously powerful, with enough muscle to exceed 285 pounds, but most of them are on the pudgy side.

For someone who’s not a true sports fan but writes about it for a living, I find great interest in watching for the—well, it’s not exactly a mismatch, it’s the variation in body types in the heavyweight bouts. The big, tall guy vs. obesity. Who has the advantage?

On mat #2, Muscle is losing 2-1 with a minute remaining. He needs to score a point. He manages to drive Pudge across the mat and knock him down, but they roll out of bounds and there are no points awarded. Pudge knocks Muscle down, Muscle is quicker and escapes, Pudge has him again and Muscle can’t move under all the weight. Pudge wins.

Two Pudges post wins in other matches, but there’s a Muscle over on mat #9 who pinned a Pudge. My study is inconclusive, but it looks like the Pudge had the advantage.

Now two Pudges are about to start. They plod onto the mat with slow, heavy steps and push each other around until someone loses his balance and then they’re both down with a thud. There’s a massive rippling of fat as they hit the mat and I imagine the Palace shaking.

There are reporters sitting nearby with their laptops open, supposedly writing stories. One guy is reading movie reviews. Another has been talking on his phone for what seems like an hour. Sometimes they disappear for great lengths of time, then return to laptops and check their e-mail.

I should have brought my laptop, but the book was lighter. I’m hauling a camera around, too, the sure sign of a small-town reporter.

When I tire of reading, I look up to watch my favorite referee. I’ve been following this guy for at least 15 years and I never tire of him. Everything is done with such a flourish as he quickly moves around the mat. He’s light on his feet, it’s almost like a dance.

He’s down on one knee, now he’s quickly back up. He backs off, he advances and leans right over the action looking down on the tangle of limbs. Suddenly he’s running to the other side and he throws himself down. His cheek is on the mat as he looks for a pin. An arm flies up to announce points. Soon both arms are furiously pumping to show a reversal.

There are also coaches to study—the screamers, the hand-pumpers, the consolers, the criticizers, the complainers. They all interact differently. When a loser throws down his headgear and stalks off, some coaches pick up the equipment, others order the wrestler back to fetch it.

In front of me is a wrestler who just lost. He’s bent over with his hands on knees and he’s crying. What’s this? His opponent has come over and he’s forcing him to stand up and look him in the face. The winner says something—how good a fight it was, I suppose—and then walks away.

In all my years of ref watching, Pudge studying and book reading, I’ve never seen such a thing before. I think I’ve just witnessed a miracle of high school sports.

  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016