Nov 1987: 8am practice with Gable

I'm in the air over Arizona or maybe New Mexico. I'm on my way home from the Sunkist Open. I lost 2 in a row, as usual, but I scored some points and gained some confidence.

First match: John Moore (Cliff Keen WC/Univ of Michigan, from Marshaltown, IA). Lost 9-8. I wrestled reactively instead of aggressively. I also left my legs open too often. I countered his singles and doubles with tilts and crotch-lifts about 50% of the time, hence the close score. I also scored on front headlocks off his shot. I was losing 7-2 after the first period, rallied in the second, but still not aggressively enough. How I could've beaten him: with singles and doubles, better leg defense. Also, more scoring on top.

Second match: Mike Gomez (Foxcatcher WC). Lost 13-7. I scored the first takedown with a single, but I still wrestled too reactively and I was not as good at countering. I was down 10-4 at the end of the first period, wrestled tougher in the second but still couldn't catch him. I got another single-leg at the end, followed by a crotch-lift which exposed his back--but not sure if I got the points or not. How I could've beaten him: head and arm snaps to singles and doubles.

Greg Randall was the only Iowa guy to place at the tourney, and he took 6th. Kevin Dresser and Marty Kistler both came close but lost twice. Rollie Kane won a couple of matches, and Bill Levy and I both lost the only matches we wrestled.

We've had killer practices the last 2 days. We're now wrestling 5 days a week. There was a club meeting this morning at which Gable announced additional 3-morning-a-week practices for club wrestlers. It was in reaction to our performance at Sunkist.

What can I tell you? It's bad but it's good. I need it. I'll be sore for a couple of weeks, but I'll pull through okay. And I'll be better for it. Hopefully it will help me make some progress against Brands, Martin, etc.

I've got to get an angle on my shots against the Brands brothers. I'm shooting in straight underneath them and they're countering. I'm also getting stopped on my shots and getting ground into the mat. I just can never get a solid grip on their legs. I've got to hit better set-ups on them to open up their legs.

I got killed by Penrith. I can't touch him. He takes me down at will, turns me at will. That's what's frustrating.

I stayed out last night until 4am, then had an 8am practice this morning, and Gable chose me to demonstrate pinning combinations on. There were only 4 of us, plus Gable. I probably reeked of dime-draw Field House beer.

Gable is much bigger than me, but you can tell just from drilling with him that he uses his body weight effectively. By that I mean he knows just where to place his weight, to hang on you, to wear you down. His grip is unbreakable.

He is 39, I think. But I'm pretty sure he could still beat anybody at his weight, especially on the mat. I haven't seen him go on his feet because his knees and hip are not in great shape. Randy Lewis says Gable still beats him on the mat, and Lewis is still at the top of his game.

Ten billion trillion stars in the universe. Ten billion trillion. Damn. That's 2.5 trillion stars per person on the face of the earth. I was down at Vito's (a bar) tonight after work, and I was thinking, "Look how many people there are in this room--imagine each of them owning a galaxy." But in reality there are about 500 million galaxies for each of the 200-odd people there.

500 million galaxies. Each. It's a big f---ing universe out there. And old. Jeeze, about 15 billion years old. I'm 25. That makes the universe roughly, let's see...about 14,999,999,975 years older than I am.

This afternoon Gable called me over to wrestle Terry Brands. I scored the first takedown. But then I missed on 2 headlocks, which he subsequently scored on, and he got 2 or 3 other single-legs. Gable called me "Tarpley." I don't know what else he would've called me, is still weird hearing Gable call my name. My worst fear is that Gable will say, "Tarpley, it's not working out for you here."

I'm at a park in Coralville. The sun is out. It's about 50 degrees. I lifted weights this morning, then drove around the outskirts of Coralville. Kind of rural, kind of run-down, a sense of decay and time gone by. All the leaves are pretty much off the trees, which adds to the effect.

I wrestle with Barry Davis this afternoon. We've been hitting it hard. It's a strange feeling to be totally and completely exhausted, day after day. I hate waking up in the mornings for 8am workouts, when I'm so sore I can barely get out of bed. But it's mental. You just have to tell yourself how cool it is to get up at 7:30am to work out, how cool it is to wrestle Barry Davis.

God, I'm exhausted.

We had a very tough practice today. We wrestled 4 5-minute non-stop matches in a row, with 45 seconds of rest between them.

I started with Terry Brands, who beat me pretty good. I got a takedown or two.

Next I wrestled Steve Martin, who killed me. I don't think I scored on him at all.

Third was John Regan. He pretty much killed me too, but I got 2 front headlocks and a single-leg on him.

Last was Tom Brands, who beat me handily. I scored on him with a double-leg, a front headlock, and something else--maybe some sort of reaction move off his shot, or maybe it was just a single leg. I'm too exhausted to remember.

After that we did some sprints, followed by top-bottom (I went with Tom Brands and went 50-50--I even sucked him in when he sat out, and got back points).

We ended it with more sprints. My clothes were completely soaked. They were so wet they were cold, like a t-shirt dipped in Lake Powell. Is that a good description?

I was supposed to wrestle with Davis, but when we got into this 5-man pair-up it kind of dissolved. Tempers were high. Tom Brands was shoving me into the wall and kicking over water cups, and Martin threw punches at somebody.

My brother Brad wrote me a letter the other day saying he admired me for jumping into the fire of Iowa Wrestling. That meant a lot to me. He said even if I never become the best wrestler in the world, at least I'll know where I stand.

There was a passage in the book I'm reading, called "The Discoverers," about the 16th century Chinese and how they were isolated from the rest of the world. They drew all their maps of the world with themselves as the center, and all the far-off places that they'd heard of they merely put on the map as tiny little islands.

If you only measure yourself against things you already know, your map of the world is always going to be too small.

And that's why I'm here.

I found a new place to live. It's a house that's all beat to shit, and is inhabited by 6 Iowa wrestlers. I'll be number 7. It's nicknamed the Heff House, because John Heffernan (158-pounder) was the first one to move in, but it looks like the Delta House, or maybe the farmhouse in Green Acres. It's got an old gold velvet sofa in the living room and an empty keg on the front porch. It's $125 a month for my room, and it's 2 blocks from the arena, so that's all I care about.

I just got back from the Northern Open in Wisconsin. I won 2 and lost 2. I'm 4-9 for the year right now. I was thinking today, you know, it's almost impossible to start something with the intention of being great at it. There are thousands of great wrestlers, rooms full of them, and I may never be as great as them, or maybe I will, but I just have to keep plugging away.

No comments:

Post a Comment