If you're watching closely at high school wrestling tournaments, you'll see the following scene over and over: Winners and losers shake hands, then they shake hands with the coaches, and the winner walks away with satisfaction.
But what happens to the loser? Many times, he slowly walks out of the arena and, well, vents.
And he's coached to do that.
"We tell 'em to go out and kick a tree," Davis coach Mike Cantwell said.
Think about it. Two teenaged athletes have just walked alone onto a mat and have put themselves on the line -- physically, mentally and emotionally -- for six often-eternal minutes. They always ache and they sometimes bleed, all in the name of competition.
The loser deserves some time alone. And, in the name of sportsmanship, he'll leave the venue and ponder what just happened.
How else do you deal with a takedown that costs you the match in the final seconds, or a what seemed a certain win suddenly spun into a loss via a pin, or a tough call that goes against you?
These are the lessons wrestlers learn that will resonate for the rest of their lives.
"To see them go out there and square off in front of everyone takes a lot of character and many times a tremendous amount of courage," said Beyer's Doug Severe, a wrestling coach for the last 30 years. "To go through that and just shake hands is a hard thing to do.
"Adults have a difficult time with that, much less teenaged boys who just sold out for six minutes."
Wins come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes, the underdog who managed to score a few points against a section champion earns a private win.
At last weekend's Rumble In The Jungle at Pitman, San Leandro's Abel Robles absorbed a cut so deep to the side of his head that he wore a huge bandage -- wrapped sideways around his skull -- for the final few minutes of his title match.
And that point, he fought into the lead, fell behind, regained the lead, and lost to Granite Bay's Johnny Cooley on a takedown 18-17 in the final second. For the record, Robles shook hands and walked slowly away -- shaken, disappointed, but composed. That's a loss only on the scoreboard.
"In football you cover it up with 11 boys," said Severe, the Beyer football coach. "In wrestling, it's all on yourself."
NOTES -- Grace Davis and Enochs meet tonight for the Modesto Metro Conference title. The Spartans' Jacob Hill, ranked fourth in the section at 215, and teammate Lucas Price return to the lineup after having nursed injuries.
"Both decided not to compete (at the Rumble) so they'll be ready for Enochs," Cantwell said. "They both chose team goals over themselves and they took stats here all day long." Enochs (7-2) is positioned for a title via its first-ever win over Downey. ...
Alexia Moreno of Turlock was second in the 126-pound class at the Girls State Finals last weekend in Hanford. She lost in the title match to Amanda Hendey of Beaumont. Mabel Flores of Los Banos took third. ... The postseason starts with the Section Team Tournament on Saturday at Rosemont. Central Catholic looks good in Div. 5, and Sonora and Oakdale have dominated Div. 3. League titles will staged the next two weeks, leading to the section tournaments Feb. 19-20: Div. 1 South at Lincoln High, Div. 4 at East Union and Div. 5 at Hilmar. ... The Masters will be Feb. 26-27 at the University of the Pacific. and the State Championship again will be at Bakersfield, March 5-6.