Blaine Carter just wanted to wrestle.
But he didn't mind expending extra energy to help organizers of the Georgia Games wrestling championships held Saturday at Lakeside High School in Evans.
When there weren't enough participants to compete in weight classes above his, Blaine answered the call and wrestled bigger, heavier and more experienced opponents, despite the fact that he was competing in his natural weight division of 220 pounds.
"I gave up 75 pounds," Blaine said.
For his efforts, the 15-year-old Lakeside High wrestler won the Georgia Games Sportsmanship Award.
Sportsmanship is what wrestling is all about. Forget golf being the gentleman's sport.
For instance, wrestlers shake hands with each other and the referees before and after matches. After a gut-wrenching, energy-depleting match it's not uncommon to see grapplers embrace or sit down next to each other in the bleachers and chat.
"This is the only sport where you can kill somebody, beat their brains out on the mat, but then after the match you're best friends," said Blaine, who also took home Georgia Games gold in the 220-pound cadet division and had a chance to place in two more classes.
According to Georgia Games officials, there were 146 participating athletes Saturday, competing in eight divisions. The youngest wrestler was 4; the oldest was 39.
Lakeside's gym was swarming with activity, with matches running simultaneously on four mats.
For Paula McGahee, president of Team Georgia Wrestling, participation at Saturday's event was satisfying, especially in light of a national wrestling event in Fargo, N.D., this weekend that drew away many potential participants.
"We're trying to keep wrestling alive in the Georgia Games, and you've made a good showing," said McGahee, using the gym's public address system.
Although medals were issued for first-, second- and third-place finishers, it wasn't all about winning and losing for many of the wrestlers' supporters and parents.
"You always learn something whether you win or lose," said Tammy Fiacco, of Acworth, Ga., whose three sons, ages 4, 12 and 14, competed Saturday.
Many of the younger competitors who lost matches left the mat with tears in their eyes.
"It's just a game, baby," said one mother, consoling a diminutive wrestler after defeat. "You came here to have fun."
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