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THE BEST WRESTLER EVER
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THE BEST WRESTLER EVER

Published October 24, 2008


If you want to bring up a little conversation, go online and ask the question, who is the best? The Syracuse.com wrestling forum debates this every year. What is the criteria? Is it the most wins, Section Three titles, or state championships.

 

How about I set the standard with state championships. From Section Three there are seventy- one state champions. Of those there are seven two time state champions. Finally, there is one and one alone three time state champion, Dan Hunt in 1972, 1973, and 1974. So, is he the best? Also, there are three most outstanding wrestlers in the state tournament. They are Dan Hunt, of West Genesee, Tom Pickard of Baldwinsville, and Greg Stevens of Fulton. With Stevens being a one time champion my finalists are Pickard and Hunt.

Dan Hunt’s great career started as a freshman placing second in the state at 112. Then his Sophomore year he won it at 119. His junior year he was challenged by the previous year’s state Champion at 105, Robert Sloand, from Niagara Wheatfield. Hunt prevailed 9-8. His senior year he Won it for the third time at 119, a 3-0 win over Bill Fuller from Pioneer. He was a three time state champ at the same weight class, impressive!

 

Tom Pickard’s first state title came his junior year at 132 where he shut out his opponent 8-0 in the finals. In his senior year Pickard moved up two weight classes into the strong 145 class. There in the finals as a defending states champ he became something that Dan Hunt was never considered, an underdog. Facing Paul Myers from Baldwin, the defending state champ at 145, Tom Pickard dismantled him 14-1. For this I give Tom Pickard the nod as my best Section Three Wrestler ever.

So how did Tom Pickard get to the top of Section Three? He started young in the Baldwinsville peewee program. Then he participated in tournaments, camps, and clubs. While Tom wrestled in these youth tournaments he was shadowed and often beaten by another wrestler. They were always close matches; Tom quick and efficient, the other strong and relentless with an iron grip. Once after losing to Tom in a summer tournament, the other wrestler remembered how sweaty and difficult it was to hold onto his opponent in the summer heat. The next week he brought a towel. Meeting Tom again in the finals he had the referee towel the sweat off both wrestlers between periods. That week Tom lost.

They were two wrestlers from the same town planning great varsity careers. Tom’s led to being captain of a great Baldwinsville wrestling team, state championships, and a full scholarship. The other wrestler didn’t fare so well. It’s the same old story then as now. First trouble at school, then with the police. Alcohol and drugs complete this downward spiral. This is the kind of person who the say fell through the cracks. Not true, he fell into a crevice. Two future athletes with equal potential ending up in opposite directions. Why? Is it his fault at fourteen? Is it school’s, the teacher’s, the coach’s, his friend’s, or family’s fault? Instead, we should look back and see how this can be prevented . If you know someone similar to this, what can be done? Don’t judge them, don’t presume them guilty. Give them a second chance. If they need wrestling shoes, or a meal at at tournament, buy it for them.

Being a student athlete is a tough road. Wrestling requires discipline, dedication, and support. These are the best things for a student on the edge. But you have to have the chance to at least step on the mat at varsity level. I may think I know who the best Section Three wrestler ever is, but I know who the best wrestler that there never was. Remember, it’s not a game, it’s wrestling!

 

Ray Kramer