A wrestling room is the workshop where Iron Men are built. They are crafted from hours of dedicated hard work. Literal blood, sweat and tears. Literal agony from intense drilling sessions, live situational wrestling and grueling conditioning to the point crawling off the mat is the only form of solace.
These Iron Men are battle-hardened by their own teammates in that wrestling room, feeding off each other’s combative energy and focus until they are ready for the big time.
Eventually, they will be sharp enough to compete in one of the biggest spectacles the Colorado prep sports scene has to offer.
There will be 896 IronMen at the Colorado High School state wrestling tournament starting today at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
They will be competing for 56 state championships in four different classifications.
Dreams will be realized, along with lasting memories and historical performances. So will failure. And agony. And defeat.
But while only 56 will stand atop the podium, all 896 wrestlers will be showcased at the highest level the state has to offer. They will forever remember the hard work, and the reality will play out much different than the scenarios crafted in their heads.
They’ll remember how it feels to walk out of the tunnel, to get their hand raised and point at their mothers – all of whom missed half of the match with their heads buried in their white-knuckled hands.
They’ll remember their coach in the corner, who scrapped and fought for his kids every step of the way. Who instilled the virtues of what it means to be an Iron Man, of what it means to have work ethic and ethics in general.
And they’ll remember their teammates, how they helped them get to this point. Maybe they’ll watch as their practice partner wins a state title. Maybe he’ll say, “This is because of you.”
In the end, the Iron Man’s individual legacy is written by him alone, based upon what he does in the six minutes on the mat.
But his success was the result of every other Iron Man in the wrestling room. As is the success of the team champions, four of which will bask in the ultimate glory on the tournament’s final night.
Each Iron Man will have played a role in bringing the gold trophy back to the school – whether it be for the first or the 12th time.
But what does it mean to be an Iron Man, you ask?
Being an Iron Man on the mat is more than just being solid in your abilities.
It means staying in good position at all times, never relenting or easing up when you feel your tank running on empty.
It means believing you can outperform the opponent in front of you, that your strength and mobility and training will power you to victory.
It means you never stop scoring, no matter what, until the final whistle is blown.
And when the final whistle does blow, and you hear the roar of the 10,000-strong in the stands at the Pepsi Center shout as your hand is raised toward the rafters, you will remember how you were built.