The wrestling team awoke early Thursday morning to the sound of alarms in their own houses. The reason was that today was the day they would be flying to Abu Dhabi for their MESAC invitational tournament. As they drove on the bus to the airport with bags under their eyes and slow speech was noticeable among all members. Julen, Jaden, Ethan and Deacon were all in eighth grade along with Steven in seventh, Ji in ninth, and David and Seokmin being twelve and eleventh graders.
The team arrived at their Abu Dhabi hotel later that day and then continued to ASC for their weigh-ins and warm ups. They all noticed how the mats there were very different from the ones at their school, as they were capable of being rolled out to their full extent. While the AES team’s was only able to roll out to one third of the whole mat because they were given a very small room in the back of the gym to practice. This meant the the team wasn’t used to being able to wrestle in such a big space for the tournament. That night the team went back to the hotel, then continued to go out and find the nearest place that would sell the one food on all their minds… burgers. (The team was lucky enough to enjoy the sweet taste of beef later that night) The next two days were long and hard and no one in the team was untouched from injuries. One suffered a sprained ankle and many endured bruises to their face and body. But at the end of each day, despite their injuries, the team returned to the hotel happy and ready for the next. The tournament was divided into two parts: seating and championship. First was for the day that would determine where your school’s place would be for the championship. The list of weight classes were posted and the team was then divided into their brackets. All members scanned the room for people that might be in their weight class, scouting out the competition.
There was a general aura of nervousness before each match, mostly for the participants but also for spectators. One by one each team was called up to compete, and the rest of the kids were cheering their peers on from the stands. Most matches went fast, but some more suspenseful ones dragged on until the final bell. When this happened, team members would be leaning over the railing of the stands and coaches would slowly be becoming more and more agitated. Each match was its own gripping experience. Luckily all the team members went home that day with at least one win under their belt and a sense of hope for the next battle.
The next day was much like the last, with the team having a little more experience to benefit them today on the mats. However the day was a little different from the last, seeing as today was the day that would determine your final place in the championship. Today was the day that you found out who got the gold medal. The day went by fast, and people were thrown, shots were taken, tie-ups happened way too often. And it all lead up to the final matches. The two mats were sectioned for third and fourth place, and first and second place. Names were called out one by one so that the confused audience would know who was who and when they would be playing. Simultaneously the games went on and each and every one ended with a frowning wrestler and an extremely happy one. Places were given and all the teams went home having a great story to tell their family and friends.