Parasiliti: Plenty of storylines in just one mat battle

January 27, 2013
  • Bob Parasiliti
Joe Crocetta

I don’t know about you, but I like to see a good fight now and then.

But there are very few headliners nowadays.

Boxing’s heyday seems to have run its course. The fisticuffs at ice rinks and in the octagon are now all the rage.

That’s not the same.

The civilized, non-physical brand of fighting is called debate, but not many would buy a pay-per-view to see two philosophers throw down. Besides, I think Socrates would have a weight and reach advantage over Plato.

Still, here’s one of the age-old battles that falls into the chicken-and-egg category.

Does life imitate art or art imitate life?

OK. I know. This is a sports column. It should be “Does the run help the pass?” or “Do passes help the running game?”

I was reminded the other day that sports is an art form all its own and each athlete is an artist, an actor or a central figure in defining his or her own version of expression.

And of all places, it came on a wrestling mat.

On Wednesday, North Hagerstown went to Boonsboro for a run-of-the-mill MVAL Antietam match.

Everyone knows the Hubs are one of the traditionally strong teams in the area. Meanwhile, the Warriors are cutting their own path to get to that level. The outcome was predictable and not a surprise.

It wasn’t the story, though. In this case, it was the painting.

The sports version of the imitation debate came in the very first bout, the 138-pound match, on this day.

It pitted North’s Brendon Colbert against Boonsboro’s Dalton Hawkins.

Colbert is a two-time state tournament runner-up. Hawkins not only wants to imitate his opponent, he would like to eventually take his spot.

A movie could have been written about this confrontation. In fact, it has.

It was like it was scripted for “Vision Quest,” a 1985 movie which is a cross of “The Graduate” working for a “Rocky”-“Rudy” moment.

In the movie, Matthew Modine plays a wrestler in Spokane, Wash., who cuts a lot of weight to move down a few weight classes for the chance to wrestle a three-time defending state champion.

It becomes a huge event and the defining moment in his young life.

That’s Hollywood. This is Washington County, but the intent was there.

It wasn’t 100 minutes worth of drama, but it was an instance of, “If you want to be the man, you have to beat the man.”

Hawkins had worked long and hard for a shot like this.

Colbert, who had lost just five of his 103 high school bouts heading into Wednesday’s match, had defeated Hawkins earlier this month for third place in the Hub Cup.

This was the rematch.

North had two wrestlers weigh in at 138, but allowed Colbert to meet Hawkins again.

“Hawkins worked all week to face Brendon and we were glad to oblige,” North coach Greg Slick said. “Hawkins is really good. If you want to get better, you have to wrestle tough competition. This match was good for Hawkins, but the same goes for Brendon because it helps him, too.”

The match wasn’t an Academy Award epic, but it had its drama. In the big picture, it was an important first step for North to win the meet.

Colbert showed his experience with his takedowns, a reversal and two nearfalls in the first two periods, while Hawkins managed two escapes. The score was 13-2 after four minutes.

With a little more work, Colbert got a pin with 54 seconds remaining in the bout.

“I wanted to wrestle a lot harder,” Colbert said. “We wrestled for third and fourth place in the Hub Cup, and I won with a major decision. I wanted a pin this time.”

Colbert got what he wanted and Hawkins, despite the loss, got what he needed to get ready for the upcoming tournament season.

The bout was a very small example of why sports are treasured.

They are “life imitating art” and vise versa all their own. They supply their own collections of extremes.

There’s the excitement of battle against the interworkings of strategy. There is the decorated veteran trying to maintain his standing against an upstart underdog.

There is the view from the top of the heap and striving to get that seat.

Those extremes give sports order. That’s why statistics, top 25 polls and historical comparisons of players will always remain important.

Athletes write the stories and paint the pictures that allow sports to regenerate itself.

It’s fighting the good fight, because art (and sports) imitates life, and life allows future competitors the dream of imitating artists (or athletes).

That’s our Vision Quest.

Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or at

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