Wrestlers, coaches pacing themselves at Western Mass. meet
HOLYOKE -- Ray Miro's Saturday started at 4 a.m. He spent all day between buses and the Holyoke High School gymnasium, where his Mount Greylock wrestling team competed in the Western Massachusetts Division III meet.
His day wouldn't end until well after sunset -- maybe even closer to sunrise on Sunday, in fact.
That's reality, though, when champions are crowned in one day.
"By the end of the day, you're just ready to go home, put your head down and just chill," Miro said. "I won't get settled in bed until about midnight tonight, or after. But you get used to it. You know what to expect."
Miro's Mounties, and three other Berkshire County high school teams, hit the mats all day and night for the sectional tournament. Matches started just after 10 a.m. in Holyoke. The tournament was originally scheduled for two days, but the late-week snowstorm that hit the region canceled Friday's early rounds, forcing the tournament into a one-day format Saturday.
That meant wrestlers could find themselves with a day that could feature as many as six matches -- if they lost in the early rounds, of course. The format placed a premium on early victories; in some weight classes that weren't fully stocked, the finalists could wrestle as few as three matches to reach the title match.
"If you wrestle four times, you're only getting a headstart to where you're ready for finals," Taconic 220-pounder Dave Jones said. "If you're wrestling six, you're [thinking], ‘Wow, I'm tired. I'm going to get my [butt] kicked.' "
With multiple matches in one day over four mats -- Holyoke's setup put three mats in the main gymnasium, with Mat 4 in the auxiliary gym across the hallway -- wrestlers were forced to pace themselves, knowing when to cool down, and when to get mentally and physically ready for the next opponent.
The early rounds moved fairly quickly. Monument Mountain 195-pounder Robert Yvon, who was bumped up to the No. 1 seed in his class before matches began, earned a fast pin of his first opponent.
"It's nice to go out and get a quick win, but it's also nice to go out, wrestle a few periods and get yourself warmed up," he said.
Yvon expected to have about an hour of rest between his first- and second-round matches. Of course, he was only one of many Monument wrestlers in the Western Mass. draw, so he could follow the Spartan crowd and watch a number of teammates compete during that time.
"I want to stay in it," Yvon said. "Maybe drink a little water, but always try to stay balanced and stay ready."
Miro may have been the most exhausted of all Berkshire Countians by mid-day Saturday. Not only had he been awake for 8 hours, but he was also recovering from kidney stone surgery earlier in the week.
It's a good thing, then, that he wasn't alone; Greylock's three assistant coaches were also on hand, and sat in on some matches to give Miro a short break.
"We spread ourselves out," the coach said. "We don't have a rhyme or reason why we do it. We just split up when necessary."
Miro will also travel to Danvers on Sunday for the state seeding meeting, as he is a section representative.
Jones hopes to be one of the names assigned to a seed Sunday; he entered the Western Mass. tournament as the No. 3 seed at 220. If he held his seed, he'd head to states next week. The top four finishers in each weight class qualify for the state meet.
Jones likes to gear up for his next match about two or three weight classes before his, but he also values the down time between tournament matches.
"If you have the [mindset] of wrestle, wrestle, wrestle, you're going to slow down and you're going to get tired, and that will end it fast," he said.
Miro echoed that sentiment.
"You get up for [a match], but then you've got to learn to calm down," the coach said. "If you stay sky high, you're going to burn out."
To reach Matthew Sprague:
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On Twitter: @BE_MSprague.