Tough It Out: Aztec Strong
By Paul Herzog, RMN Wrestling Parent
Three years ago, a wide-eyed 95 pounds worth of skinny kid stumbled onto the mat in the scariest tournament he had seen to that point. He was on a brutal 1-and-23 streak. Any conspicuous signs of success were … conspicuously absent. This was the weekend it all changed for him. The opposing coaches built him up. The other wrestlers, even opponents encouraged him. This first experience of RMN Events – the Aztec Warrior – changed him.
He was given a couple of timely and much needed nods of approval from the refs. Then he met some kids to whom he had lost earlier in the day; he wrestled them again … and won. The next day things went even better. Before the weekend was over, he defined a love for wrestling that has kept him working out wherever he is (multiple sites and states) nearly every day since.
Many competitive Four Corners kids join the typically tough from a few of the best high schools and private clubs in New Mexico for this event. Add an entourage from every state in the region, and the competition becomes fierce.
This year I had the pleasure of being able to travel down with a few of Colorado’s best. To be honest, plenty of them met their matches here. There’s the altitude, attitude, pride of the various people groups, and the fight culture that is New Mexico. And then came the kids from Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, California and beyond who are confirming the phenomenon of wrestling in the West.
This year the 2019 event was no different. The kids earned every win they got; nothing was assumed or automatic. The breakdown in age-group sessions allowed the spectators to realize just how good the girls, the age groups, the coaches, and the guys still tough and ill-advised enough to enter the Open division had become. There was very little, “Yeah, well my coach is tougher than your coach!” or “Yeah, well my Dad is tougher than your coach!” At Aztec this year, many took to the mat to prove their mettle.
Here you can double bracket, wrestle three styles, get 17 matches if you want, or just a few tough ones if you’d prefer. The hospitality of Farmington is truly enchanting; the growing bustle of this city has made it a wonderful, beautiful destination. If you weren’t there, you should have been. And if you were, well, you’re awfully glad you made the trip.
AZTEC STRONG – “Many Aztec residents are still recovering from a Dec. 7, 2017 school shooting that left two 17-year-old students and the 21-year-old shooter dead. Though locals say the community and school have worked hard to define a new normal in the four months since the incident, many say the healing process is far from over.” --Farmington Daily News, April 9, 2018
How tough is Aztec? This community had hosted a state wrestling qualifier at Aztec on December 3rd at that same high school – just 4 days before this tragic event. How inspiring is it to see just like their wrestlers, a whole community consider their losses, get up, shake themselves off, regroup, and charge right back into the work of getting better every day.
Hats off to our New Mexico wrestling family and the whole Farmington community. Thanks for hosting and inviting us all back again this weekend. You make us proud! May we all prove to be AZTEC STRONG!
NOTE: Perspectives and viewpoints from coaches, parents, spectators, and athletes are welcome. Submit articles for online publication consideration to Bill at www.rmnevents.com.
Herzog Family CO-NM: Paul, Soren, Mandy with RMN Head Official Bill Barron