Everything was going fine until I got sick

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I was feeling a little ill Saturday. The feeling probably came over me about 6:30 or 7 p.m. I was sitting matside at the Section 1AAA Dual Tournament in Rochester and Albert Lea and Owatonna were locked in a tight battle to put it mildly.

I wasn&8217;t sick from something I ate or because I was dealing with some sort of flu. I had witnessed five Albert Lea-Owatonna duals up to this point and this is the first time any of them had really ever been close.

These two teams are so good that every year before the season kicks off it seems everyone predicts the Tigers and Huskies will meet in the section finals for the right to go to state and it almost always seems to happen.

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The events usually unfold with the Tigers winning big early, Owatonna making a little charge and then the rout is on. Not this time, these Huskies came to wrestle.

The Tigers found themselves down three points with just three weights remaining and even though I told myself that Albert Lea was going to go a perfect 3-for-3 in those matches I was still not feeling well.

I have to admit I am spoiled. When it comes to wrestling the Tigers&8217; wrestling

team has spoiled my for three straight years. Losses are rare, close losses even more so.

So I did my best to sit in my chair, take pictures and remain as stoic as possible. I am a journalist and it is my job is to remain unbiased and avoid cheering, jumping up and down and screaming at the top of my lungs. If I do those things it would be considered unprofessional to say the least.

The Tigers did get the three wins they needed and they are going back to state for the third straight year. It is well deserved and I hope they continue to do well.

I am not sure I have felt more relieved after a dual was done than I was Saturday night. If the Tigers had not pulled it out it would not have been the end of the world. It would have been disappointing, but no one can say that every Albert Lea wrestler did not give everything they had.

It is easy to be classy when you are winning, but the Tigers showed they are a top program on and off the mat once again.

I have to credit the Owatonna wrestlers for giving such a strong effort and for closing the gap they did in the two weeks between the regular season dual between these two teams and the section final. The Huskies were obviously disappointed to lose, but from what I could see from the kids they acted in a very favorable manner after the dual.

Like any close match fans for both teams probably had more than one issue with the officials during the match but I thought every wrestler gave a good effort.

The only thing that struck me throughout the whole dual was the Huskies&8217; tendency to develop small injuries during close matches.

Whether or not the wrestlers were actually injured I do not know, but on more than one occasion an Owatonna wrestler would injure a finger and find his way to the corner during a close match. The funny thing was the coaches seemed less concerned about the injury and were more focused on coaching in the corner. Now, I did not hear the conversation so they may have been telling them how to wrestle without further injuring themselves but I doubt it.

So one final time I want to congratulate the wrestling team on a successful season which began with more than one or two &8220;experts&8221; saying Owatonna was the team in Section 1AAA to beat.

It proves how far this team has come from the first day of the season until now.

This weekend the Tigers will probably face several of those Huskies all over again as the teams look to qualify individuals for the state meet. There is something that makes watching those matches a little easier when you already have a team trip to St. Paul in your back pocket.

Now the Tigers and their fans can enjoy another long weekend at the state tournament.

I feel better already.

Sport editor Jeff Budlong&8217;s column appears every Wednesday.