February 4, 2013
The Daily Pennsylvanian
As a fifth-year senior at Penn, I have always felt that the wrestling team was misunderstood to a certain extent. Not many people have been inside a wrestling room, let alone No. 23 Penn’s exceedingly competitive Division I room.
Wrestlers are a different breed. We carry around battle scars and the mental anguish of every match we have ever lost. Wrestling is as intense and mentally demanding a sport as there is. It is the ultimate test of strength, flexibility, conditioning and character.
Unlike most sports, wrestling is one-on-one. It is a seven-minute war. There are no pads, no timeouts and nobody to hide behind. At its core, wrestling teaches personal responsibility above anything else. If you lose, it’s your fault — and yours alone. And to a wrestler, nothing hurts more than losing.
Ask any wrestler on our team if he has any of his second-place medals. The answer is no. My 2011 Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Championships silver medal is somewhere on the shoulder of I-76.
I’ve seen grapplers smash trophies, punch holes through walls and even rip out a bathroom sink in the heat of the moment after a loss. It’s hard to convey that disappointment to people who haven’t experienced it. Losing is emasculating on a very personal level. Try to imagine having your mom tell you that you aren’t her favorite child — it’s that kind of feeling.