|James Emig was a state
tournament qualifier heavyweight in 1975 from Cincinnati Greenhill
High School. He has worked at 12 Ohio High School Athletic
Association State Championships. He has seven years of coaching
experience as a Junior and Senior High wrestling coach a
Finneytown and St. Xavier High Schools. He has served as
tournament manager of the Cincinnati division I sectional at St.
Xavier high school.
This article appeared in the program for the 1993 Ohio State
There comes a time when every wrestler realizes his competitive
career is over. Exactly when that moment occurs varies for every
wrestler. For some, that realization takes place in advance of
their last match; those wrestlers walk out onto the mat knowing it
ends after that match. Others get caught up in the race for the
top and donít really want to think about what may be their last
match. It is difficult to put an end to something to which you
have given so much of yourself. However, sooner or later,
every wrestler grasps the reality that he has wrestled his last
match, and for many, it will happen this weekend.
Looking through the stands and in the corridors of the arena at
the state championships each year, you will see wrestlers whose
careers are over. Sometimes youíll see a mother, sister,
wrestlerette or girlfriend crying while holding him; a father
looking out onto the arena floor, silently thinking about what
could have been. Behind every wrestler are many others who
quietly, deep within themselves, wrestle right along side him.
They feel the joy of victory and the pain of defeat as if it was
their own. When his career ends, much of the anguish they feel is
because it is also the end of something that has meant very much
It is a long, difficult road from those very first matches, marked
by many defeats, to the state championships. Somewhere in between,
childhood ends. Games are no longer important and boys become men.
Fortunate parents witness this beautiful transition. It is not
without a great deal of pain and sacrifice for the wrestlers and
families alike. For most wrestler, qualifying for the Ohio State
Championships represents the single greatest achievement in their
young lives. For all wrestlers, qualifying represents an
experience they will never forget.
No one knows what drives these young men and coaches to work so
hard and sacrifice so much. The rewards come from within. This
sport of wrestling brings winning and losing together such that
the combination means self-improvement. This is the real reward.
One wrestler canít improve without the efforts of another. The
champions owe a debt to the wrestlers they have wrestled and
beaten. All wrestler who finish behind the champions owe a debt to
the champs because they have improved from the experience.
Collectively, we all owe a debt to this great sport because we
have all been touched by our involvement.
Six hundred and twenty-four wrestlers enter this tournament each
year with the dream of winning that final match. A dream, however,
only thirty-nine will realize. To those wrestlers who wrestle
their last match this weekend, congratulations to you, no matter
where you place. The reality is, there are no losers in the sport
of wrestling; there are only those who did not wrestle.