The contrast of the heartbreak for Ty Grandbouche and Trevor Sloan in their championship losses and the celebration of Brandon Duarte and Bryan Hampton's third-place wins has made me question, "Is second place actually second best?"
I realize in most other sports the loser in the championship doesn't go home happy, but only in the bracketed sports like high school basketball or wrestling does an individual or team get to go home a winner, but not with the championship trophy.
It makes me think back to my high school career when I finished second my junior year as an individual in cross country and the next year my team took home a second-place trophy. The second place my junior year was great because it wasn't expected, but then my senior year all I wanted was a team championship and the second-biggest trophy depressed me for weeks.
With a combination of my own experience and watching this weekend, I've decided whether you win or lose is a relative term.
Just look at the four MCHS seniors who placed, but weren't state champions.
Bryan Hampton didn't even start the season on varsity let alone never wrestled at the Pepsi Center before. His fight through the consolation bracket and eventual overtime win against an opponent that had beat him twice already this year couldn't have been any sweeter.
On the other hand, there was Duarte, who finished third last year and didn't want anything less than to be in the championship match this year. His loss in the quarterfinals to the eventual champion was a heartbreaker, which meant his final win for third left him with "if onlys" and a second bronze medal.
But he still left the tournament glad that he had won his last match.
The smiles were few and far between for Grandbouche and Sloan Saturday night.
Grandbouche lost to defending state champion, Ben Tobler of Montrose, who was the master of frustration for the Bulldogs senior. Grandbouche lost to Tobler in both the regional and state championship in the same fashion with the Montrose wrestler hopping on the saddle and riding for the third period, earning 3-1 and 5-4 wins. Yet, while the silver medal wasn't what he wanted, the only people in the Pepsi Center that gave Grandbouche a chance were the ones that live in Northwest Colorado. So his silver was not one to shed tears over.
For Sloan the loss was harder to take. A week before, he had defeated his opponent, Vinny Palone from Broomfield, with a pin, but the same magic just wasn't there for him Saturday night.
Palone's size and strength were too much and it didn't help that half of his family had acquired floor passes (supposedly only for media and coaches) and were next to the mat barking out encouragement -- don't tell them I said this though, they are rather large men.
While Tobler had calmly and gracefully won against Grandbouche, Palone and his posse celebrated like it was 1999, which they are entitled to do, but it just rubbed salt in the wounds of Sloan and his fans.
I asked Roman Gutierrez if he thought that winning and getting third was better than losing and getting second and his response shined a different light on things.
"It's tough to lose your last match ever," he said. "But I think being able to experience the parade of champions is a feeling they will never forget."
So I hope for the two runner-ups the sting of silver will eventually wear off and the stories of all the other wins that accompany the trip to the state championship match will win over.
Believe me fellas, the stories of glory will outlive that last match.
If it doesn't, look me up sometime and we can feel sorry for each other and throw darts at pictures of the guys who got the gold.
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.