No matter how many times you’ve attended the NCAA wrestling championships – be it a handful of times, or dozens – you probably remember your first time as if it were yesterday. And, even if your first NCAAs was decades ago, most likely you can recall specific details from some of the matches, as well as the overall experience inside the arena and beyond.
Now you can revisit your own memories of your inaugural NCAA mat championships, thanks to an article posted this month at BlackShoesDiaries.com, a Penn State sports blog.
Let's be clear: you don’t have to be a fan of the Nittany Lions to enjoy “The 2014 D1 College Wrestling Tournament: My First Nationals” by JP -- @jtothemfp on Twitter – a 43-year-old former wrestler, lifelong sports fan, and long-time contributor to BlackShoeDiaries.com.
JP shares his epic experience at the 2014 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships – including challenges to get to Oklahoma City – and his adventure at Chesapeake Energy Arena and environs. Early in his story, JP sets the stage for his anticipation of his first nationals:
“Throughout all of wrestling's scoring and titling debates the past few years, the one truth nobody dared assail was that the end-of-season NCAA tourney was college wrestling's crown jewel. I can now vouch. Structurally, it's the perfect blend of individual challenges and team race thrills. And heartbreaks. Visually, there's action not just on the mat, but in the stands where fan contingents rep their teams and colors. Competitively, there's nothing like it. Grizzled veterans and fresh-faced youths almost all have the same chances. Their season's--and in many cases their life's--hard work culminates here and they'll exert all the blood, sweat and tears they own for a chance to advance.”
The BlackShoeDiaries.com piece is not a recap of the tournament’s most epic moments, let alone an attempt at a boiled-down version of three days of mat action. Rather, it successfully transports the reader into the arena, to share JP’s view of the action… and, more interestingly to this reader, his interaction with fellow fans, many who are, to use his phrase, “grizzled veterans” of countless numbers of NCAA wrestling championships. (As WIN (Wrestling Insider Newsmagazine) pointed out in its coverage from Oklahoma City, a good number of fans in the stands stood when asked by the event announcer if they had been to 65 NCAA championships.)
Don’t be scared by the epic length of the story. Although it weighs in at nearly 10,000 words, it’s not like wrestling “Moby Dick” or one of those ginormous Russian novels. “The 2014 D1 College Wrestling Tournament: My First Nationals” is compelling, fun reading that not only captures the magic of the event in college wrestling… but will stir up your own memories of your first time at the NCAAs.