wrestling

Posted by Ellen

To be more precise: at least one mitten came off late in the afternoon of Christmas day when Hank and Al had at it on the bluff above Kettle Cove, on the nearly snowless southern coast of Maine. It wasn't a real fight, just a little sibling rasslery.

Posted by Ellen

If this is November, then wrestling season must be upon us.

Instead of embarrassing my children and boring my kind readers with snapshots from sweaty school gymnasiums, I thought I'd introduce the season with a glimpse of women's wrestling, the newest Olympic sport.

The wrestler in blue, who appears to be on the verge of pinning her opponent in this 2006 match, is Deanna Rix, from South Berwick, Maine. In 2005, Rix almost made high school sports history, by coming within a few seconds in double overtime of winning a state wrestling championship against boys. Since then, she has been training at the New York Athletic Club and Olympic Training Center, supporting herself by waitressing at Hooters. She currently is the top-ranked American woman in her weight class (59 kg) and recently placed fifth at the world championship.

She may have trouble qualifying for the Olympics, however, because there are only four women's weight classes, and her fighting weight falls midway between two classes.

On the college level, women's wrestling has suddenly become popular; it is probably the fastest growing intercollegiate sport. Ten years ago, there were no women's wrestling teams; now there are more than 30. About half are "folkstyle" programs, following the same rules as men's high school and college wrestling in the United States; the other half wrestle "freestyle," using international rules. Although many of the women's programs offer athletic scholarships, quite a few, especially at small colleges, were introduced specifically in hopes of recruiting another dozen or so tuition-paying students.

Title IX has played a curious role in all this; for years, men's college wrestling has been in decline, with schools cutting programs, claiming that they needed to put more resources into women's sports, such as field hockey or gymnastics. Nowadays, some schools are finding they can revive men's wrestling by starting a women's team as well; MIT is one of the universities following this route. So far, the regrowth in men's college wrestling is concentrated in Division II and III schools, not at the top competitive level.

Posted by Ellen

Wearing headgear is always wise, but challenging your big brother to a wrestling match?

Posted by Ellen

At the Naval Academy, all the students, even the wrestlers, are required to attend all the home football games, They march in uniform from campus out to the stadium, where they parade onto the field by company and then march up into the stands, where they stand, literally, on their feet throughout the game. When Navy scores, plebes race down into the end zone and do pushups, one for each point scored.

But on parents' weekend, some of the students drift on out of the midshipmen's section of the stands to sit with their families like regular people--assuming that "regular people" is a fair term for lightweight wrestler Allen Stein and his good friend Mike Landis, the wrestling team's heavyweight. Mike was captain of his high school football team before limiting his energies to wrestling at the college level, but even without him in the lineup the Midshipmen did well last Saturday, beating Louisiana Tech 32-14.

In acknowledging the victory, the Academy superintendent awarded all the midshipmen an extra hour of liberty Saturday night, till 1 a.m. The wrestlers wasted that hour with the best of them.