Good sport

2/27/2013

Wrestling fans grapple with Olympic-size issue.

Wrestling fans grapple with Olympic-size issue.

Garden City knows wrestling.

Whether it's success at Garden City High School — the Buffaloes earned another state championship this past weekend — or other wrestling events, the sport has made a difference locally.

On Sunday, GCHS battled its way to the 6A state championship, an impressive eighth state title in school history.

The Buffs were so dominant this time around that their points total was enough before the championship round to secure the state title, the first since Rocky Welton coached his final year in 1999.

Welton led Garden City to several state championships. A reminder of his mark on local wrestling comes annually with the Rocky Welton Invitational, a two-day wrestling tournament that brings teams from all over Kansas and surrounding states to Garden City.

But as notable as wrestling has been in Garden City and other area communities with strong traditions — and those nationwide, as well — the sport recently sustained a painful blow on the world stage.

Unwelcome news came recently when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced plans to cut wrestling from the 2020 Summer Games. Supporters of wrestling understandably were surprised and angered by the possibility.

The sport, after all, has been a part of the modern Olympics since 1896, as well as the ancient games in Greece.

But it's not as if wrestling has gone out of style. It remains one of the more physically demanding sports, heralded because it encourages discipline, endurance, dedication and other positive traits.

And outstanding young wrestlers view the Olympics as the ultimate goal.

Yet the sport could be shelved in the Olympics, while such so-called competitive events as rhythmic gymnastics (in which participants manipulate ribbons and hoops) would survive.

Many in the wrestling community are battling back with petitions and other efforts to save wrestling as an Olympic sport. Don't look for those who understand and appreciate wrestling as a great sport — something well known in these parts — to back down.

Hopefully, the same perseverance that powers successful wrestlers helps those intent on saving the sport push forward and convince the IOC to dismiss a foolish attempt to take down wrestling.

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