Last night, while most of the nation was watching their brackets implode by Wisconsin’s constant badgering of Nova, Miss and I were channel surfing to keep tabs on OSU grapplers, gymnasts, and the March madness. Neither Buckeye team walked out of the gym completely satisfied as there were points and places left behind. This is the blessing and bitter reality of sport. The ball doesn’t always bounce your way. Sometimes, the opponent is just better. And, most disheartening, sometimes you get in your own way – you play it cautiously, too conservatively, and come out knowing you could have done more. No athlete likes leaving any arena and thinking they had more to give.
Last night, Bo Jordan, OSU’s 174lber, lost in the NCAA championship match. He lost to a worthy opponent, Mark Hall from the Penn State, the 2017 national championship team (OSU would finish a strong second). I’m a golfer and one of the things I’ve come to appreciate about our sport is that rarely, almost never, is the outcome dependent on some kinda referee or judge. Your score is all on you from the moment you put the first peg in the ground on hole number one, to the last putt to find the bottom of the cup on the 18th hole. Your score is all on you. Last night, it appeared to this untrained eye (and many other trained ones) that Bo scored a crucial takedown (2 points) and yet the referee disagreed. In essence, the referee’s interpretation of the rules determined the outcome. Bummer.
“I thought my effort was good,” Jordan said following the match. “I wrestled hard. In the end, I just didn’t get it,” Jordan concluded.
Watching Bo grow over the past three years has been but one of the many blessings of being around Coach Ryan’s young grapplers. He epitomizes the grit and character Coach Ryan is building. Sure, this year, both he and the team took second to the Nittany Lions. Nobody loves being second. Bo knows, however, how much he and his mates have grown as grapplers and as men. Bo has learned to take extreme ownership of his effort and training without making excuses. Bo has learned to love this sport and this team with a fuller heart. Bo knows nothing is guaranteed or given – always earned and sometimes you kinda get screwed. Bo knows, kinda like Grantland Rice said so long ago, “For when the One great scorer comes to mark against your name, He writes not – that you won or lost – but how you played the game.”
Well played, Bo. Well played Buckeyes. Well played Coach Ryan. Well played…