I have attended many wrestling matches over the past 25 years, attended every state tournament since 1987, seen many of the opposing schools set-ups but Tuesday nights Schuyler Wrestling Alumni “Throwback” Night was the best event for high school wrestling I have ever witnessed.
It started off with the event taking place in the “Old Gym”. The old girl hasn’t seen that type of crowd or atmosphere since 1982 and she didn’t disappoint the estimated 675 wrestling fans. She swung open her doors and greeted the old wrestling “skeleton’s” from the past. A nice number of around 90 fellow wrestlers, wrestling aides and cheerleaders filed back into the ol’ lair. They started to reminiese of the glory days. Stories started to come out. You know the stories, “remember when we beat so and so” or “the time coach was so mad he made us run the halls forever”. Listening to the guys tell those stories in the hallway before the introductions was priceless. The introductions were nice, but the tributes to those 3 head coaches during the past 50 years was awesome. Needless to say the special recognition for both Roger and Sheryl Barry was special. I received many comments and a few phone calls asking if we were going to do something special and a nice tribute to the Barry’s for the hard work in starting up the wrestling program was read. Then Coach Kasik asked both Roger and Sheryl Barry and Larry McGowan to be honorary coaches and captains for the evening. Looking across the mat and seeing the 3 head coaches that Schuyler has ever seen sitting side by side next to the mat was a site to see. Heck the kids even got into it. They dug through many old boxes and found singlets from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. They donned those singlets during the dual that evening. Most didn’t fit well and looked a little tattered and torn but it rekindled a lot of memories for many alumni in the stands. The kids even went as far as going to Goodwill the prior week and they all bought “retro” suits. There were polyester suits, short pants and even bow ties, a cool sight to see for sure. The cheerleaders also got into it as a few of them wore some “old” cheerleading uniforms form years past that they must have borrowed from moms or aunts. Even the stage was full of the pep band as they always were in the past, playing pep songs and of course the classic old school song “Onward Schuyler”.
The wrestling was good also. The Schuyler Wrestling Club, who will also be celebrating their 50 year of existence next season, hosted a dual with the Duncan Wrestling Club. The young kids were able to wrestle underneath the mat lamp for the first time. They wrestled hard but came up a little short in their dual. Then out came the big boys. The alumni wrestlers formed a tunnel for the team to run out thru. The stands were full, the stage was full, even the floor which had fans standing along 2 sides of the mat was full. The Warriors took the mat against an old rival in many other sports but not wrestling. This is Scotus first year of high school wrestling. How fitting to have the 50 year celebration against a school celebrating their first year. Old versus new clashed. The dual turned out to be very competitive early as Scotus took a 18-0 lead, but in the end the Warriors showed the new kids on the block that 50 years of tradition is hard to beat. Final Score: Schuyler 51 Scotus 24.
It is hard to explain. Seeing many old friends, making a few new friends from years past was something I won’t forget anytime soon. At the end of the evening I spoke with the Head Coach, Tracy Dodsen, from Scotus. I told him he has a nice young team and they will be tough very soon. I also told him I hoped all of the hoopla didn’t distract his kids. He stated, “Al, this was awesome. What a cool atmosphere. I spoke with the team afterwards and told them you guys are part of something special too. 50 years from now you can be part of something like tonight except you will have the honor of being the “first” wrestling teams Scotus ever had. Tonight was a night that I and I know our kids will never forget. This was really cool.”
We are planning on doing this one more time this season. The plans are to introduce the alumni during the Schuyler Invitational on Saturday, Jan 12. Please be there before 2:30. We will have a special designated area for the alumni wrestlers to sit in. Also, we will have an Open House at the Schuyler Golf Club following the finals that evening which will start around 5:30. Food will be available for purchase. Wrestling starts at 9:00 am. Please tell your friends and teammates about this. We would love to have everyone possible back for that special event.