It is a pivotal match. The outcome of the event will come down to this one moment. The coach whispers into the athlete’s ear, ‘lose and we will win.’ Is this an inside job? Did you ever fix it, win something and live to tell? We are not talking tanking. This is all about doing your best. But what coach or team put in a peak performance by losing? Impossible? Not if you wrestle.
Wrestling is like the sport of cross country where the team score is not about which runner finishes first, but which team of runners finishes far enough ahead to gain placement points by denying their opponents more.
St. John’s Wrestling is preparing for State this weekend and SPC the following week. Maverick Nick Cassata and the team believe they have a chance to put up points and win even if they lose a few matches, but are stingy about the way they finish on the floor.
“The team score is the ultimate for most of us on the squad. We do not win every match, but if we can fight off our back and deny our opponent a pin, we can save 3 points for the team," said Nick.
Teams are awarded six points for a pin, the finishing blow if you are on the bottom of it. But if you can avoid it and still lose, you can sometimes walk away feeling like you have won by losing only by five, four, or three points. Many players see their role as denying the pin, or playing to not lose big. This gives their team a chance to win the overall victory, even though they would rather win.
“I would always like to win, but if I can’t, the goal is to not get pinned,” said Cameron Steele, a key player in the War on the Floor victory over Kinkaid in December.
The dramatic December 9th three point victory was due in part to Steele’s unnoticed loss earlier in the night. Steele’s save from being pinned kept the Mavs alive going into the final heavyweight match between Alexander Saucer, 2009 Mucho Maverick, and the Falcons Senior captain, Yoshio Wilson. Kinkaid was up by three and could have won by losing by three, because a tie would have favored Kinkaid, the team with the most pins. The veteran Wilson had Saucer down twice, and could have taken a page from Steele, but Saucer knew he was the last resort for St. John’s as the final match. Losing was not an option for a team victory at this stage of the duel. Saucer took advantage of what his teammates gave him from their own battles and kept Wilson on his back long enough not to tie, but a pin to win, and a whole lot more from the floor.