I took a moment and just thought.
As one of the last people to leave the 2010 Minnesota State High School League Wrestling Tournament, I took a moment to reflect on my first experience at state.
I thought of what had just transpired. I had watched as Jackson County Central had won a thrilling 32-23 dual against Frazee to win a Class A state title.
I thought of the four individual champions who were crowned a few hours before: JCC’s Bronson Steuber and Cooper Moore, Adrian’s Stephen Loosbrock and Windom/Mountain Lake/Butterfield-Odin’s Spencer Johnson.
I also thought of Cobra Drake Borsgard and Pipestone Area’s Jon Gorter, who wrestled incredible tournaments but came up just short in their final matches.
With the state championship matches beginning at 7 p.m. on Saturday, the anticipation could be felt throughout the Xcel Energy Center.
All three championship matches were taking place at the same time, but with Apple Valley running away with the title in Class AAA and Simley winning easily in Class AA, JCC and Frazee became the main attraction.
Despite the early lead by the Huskies, the Hornets slowly climbed their way back in, where for the second time in two days, the dual came down to Jordan Phibbs at heavyweight.
Just like he did against Minneota in the semifinals, Phibbs delivered a big victory.
The heavyweight pinned his opponent in the first period as the Huskies were crowned state champions.
Following the post-match interviews, it was into the media room, located in the bottom level of the Xcel.
A few minutes of work and I was ready to head back to Worthington.
Getting in the elevator to head to the top level, I had a moment to myself, away from the crowds.
Finally reaching the main floor, I found the place to be deserted. I took a look out on the floor, where the mats had already been removed and the boards for the hockey arena were starting to take shape.
I then took a moment and thought of what had transpired.
I first thought of Wednesday afternoon when I was arriving at the arena before the wrestlers took to the mat for the first time.
At that moment, everything was fresh and new. Everyone had the potential to be a state champion. The future was unknown.
Looking at the wrestlers in the first round, it was apparent who was there for the first time. They looked a little more nervous, a little more antsy.
For the seasoned vets, Wednesday was just a step in the process where they were looking to get a quick win and into the next round, advancing ever closer to that coveted state title.
During those four days, I saw tears of defeat, tears of celebration, blood, sweat and in the end, the pure joy of what being a state champion really means.
All of the 27 wrestlers and two teams I went to cover had a good showing, regardless of their outcome.
For some, it was the final tournament in a great and successful career. For others, it was a learning experience that will be used to motivate in the coming years.
But for everyone involved — including myself — the 2010 state wrestling tournament made a lasting impression with memories I will take with me forever.