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HS wrestling story - feedback appreciated

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by TGO157, Feb 8, 2012.

  1. TGO157

    TGO157 Active Member

    This is a story from the area wrestling tournament in Northwest Georgia. It was a very fun event to cover, and my first traditional wrestling tournament. There's a bevy of features in wrestling, which I didn't know until I covered the event.

    Anyways, this is the story I filed about the tournament and a local school that had five senior wrestlers advance from area and into sectionals. I guess it would be a "gamer." Feedback would be appreciated. Thanks, SportsJournalists.com!

    No limits for Bruins

    Several rise above seeds to place at 7-4A tourney

    CARTERSVILLE — For Northwest Whitfield’s Jared Haws, it wasn’t a matter of seconds. It was a matter of one second.

    In the Area 7-4A traditional tournament Saturday at Cass, that’s all the time Haws had between advancing to sectionals in his senior year or seeing his high school wrestling career end with a loss.

    One second. Either get the necessary point to tie the score in his 170-pound consolation semifinal against Johns Creek’s Grant Spencer — the bracket’s No. 1 seed — or go home empty-handed.

    The sixth-seeded Haws met Spencer knowing the winner would claim at least fourth place and secure a spot in next weekend’s Class 4A West sectional tournament at Northside-Columbus.

    “You just got to get into the top four,” Northwest coach Allen Tucker said. “That’s what matters.”

    Five Bruins, all seniors, did that Saturday, with Dustin Pendergrass (145), Brian Whitmire (182) and Adam Selby (285) each taking home an area title. Brandon Davenport (160) and Haws each placed fourth, needing two wins in the wrestlebacks to advance to sectionals — and Haws produced one of the weekend’s most thrilling victories for the Bruins with his win against Spencer.

    Haws trailed 7-6 and was on bottom to start the third period, knowing he could tie the match with an escape. As the seconds ticked down and Haws was unable to break free, it seemed like he would fall short in his quest for a trip to the state tournament, something he has yet to experience.

    “You’ve got to try something!” Tucker yelled to Haws.

    With less than 10 seconds left, Haws made his last-ditch effort and started to get loose from Spencer’s grasp, finally yanking his foot free and completely escaping his opponent’s hold to earn the tying point. Only one second showed on the clock.

    “I wasn’t (going to lose) then,” Haws said.

    It only took Haws 15 seconds to earn a takedown in overtime, win the match and earn a spot in sectionals.

    “I’m pretty tired,” Haws said after the match, trying to catch his breath. “I just never gave up. I wanted to do it for myself and my team.”

    Tucker had to catch his breath, too.

    “I thought that was going to be the heartbreaker,” he said.

    There’s a heartbreaker each year, Tucker said, but a strong showing by Northwest left little reason to concentrate on anything but the Bruins’ successes at the two-day tournament. In addition to the titles for Pendergrass, Whitmire and Selby, as well as the fourth-place finishes for Haws and fifth-seeded Davenport, Alex Reynolds (132) and Sean Coley (138) each had a chance to qualify for sectionals but lost in the consolation semifinals.

    “The best wrestling in these tournaments is the consolation semifinals, when you’re wrestling to advance,” Tucker said. “They’re one win away and if they don’t win, the season is over.”

    The Bruins finished with 125 points and shared sixth in the team standings with Lambert, placing behind Woodland-Bartow (211), Cass (193.5), Chattahoochee (177), Creekview (151) and Johns Creek (139.5). Northwest’s three individual area championships tied Woodland for most at the tournament.

    The titles weren’t a surprise for Pendergrass and Selby, both No. 1 seeds. Whitmire, a No. 5 seed, was a different story.

    “See, in this tournament, if you’re a 5 seed like Whitmire, you’ve got to beat a kid who has beaten you and is seeded better than you in order to advance,” Tucker said. “It’s as simple as that.”

    Whitmire didn’t stop with beating just one seed better than him. He took down three. His championship run consisted of victories over fourth-seeded Nick McClendon of Creekview, top-seeded Muhammad Gill of Chattahoochee and third-seeded Isaiah Ross of Woodland.

    “Every year you’ve got someone who comes out of nowhere and surprises you,” Tucker said. “This year it is Whitmire. He is peaking at the right time.”

    Pendergrass and Selby, who have both been to the state tournament before, rolled through their weight classes.

    Selby, who placed sixth at state last year, won three matches by pin before winning the championship by forfeit. Chattahoochee’s Callan Gillison was held out of the match by his coaches because of injury.

    Pendergrass — who has been to the state tournament the past two years but is still looking for his first medal there — also won three matches by pin, including in the finals against Woodland’s Zach Frye. It was Pendergrass’ second straight area title, and his third consecutive trip to the area finals.

    “Our team did really well,” Pendergrass said before beating Frye. “Our seniors stepped up big. I feel pretty good about myself. ... I pretty much just choked the last two years, but this year is going to be different.”

    Tucker also feels good about the performance by his team, which had just two wrestlers seeded in the top four.

    “If we would’ve wrestled to our seeds, we would’ve sent just two,” Tucker said. “It feels good to send these seniors.”

    Reynolds placed sixth after wrestling his final match with a hyperextended elbow. Coley placed fifth and will be an alternate for his weight class.
  2. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    Someone should have commented on this by now...

    I really liked the way you pulled the single wrestler out. Then when you started talking about all the other teams, my eyes glossed over, but your hometown readers I'm sure cared. Hopefully there was some good art of the kid you wrote about. Not the end of the world if there was not, but it would have featured well with it.
  3. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    I liked the framing of the story. You picked the right anecdote to lead with, obviously. And your structure was good throughout. You got to the less interesting wins, and you chose mostly good quotes.

    But the repetition got to be a little much at a certain point. I definitely didn't need the, "Only one second showed on the clock." You could have tightened up your writing throughout, but the constant reference to the seconds was particularly tiresome. Perhaps, instead of focusing on the time of the escape, you could have developed how he made the escape.

    But it's a good tournament story that could easily be a very good tournament story with some editing.
  4. TGO157

    TGO157 Active Member

    I really appreciate the feedback, 'gents. Covering this event was incredibly fun.

    And wordy writing is a fault that I have been working on. Thanks for the tip!
  5. young-gun11

    young-gun11 Member

    The only thing I don't like, and I did it for years until someone asked me this same question.

    First graph - What is 'it'?
  6. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    For me, nothing was more fun to take pictures of than high school wrestling. You know where they will be and the expressions are great.
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