Marek Bush, a sophomore and defending state champion in Division II, was losing 7-0 against Indian River’s 126-pound standout Logan Patterson. They were wrestling in the finals of the Leo Sammon Memorial Tournament and it was an epic showdown between two of the state’s best wrestlers. Patterson was in control of the match with a 7-0 lead when he injured his elbow trying to keep Bush on the mat.
It was a legal move, so if he was not able to recover from his injury he would lose by default. And not only was the title at 126 pounds on the line but their teams were in a close battle for the team title at the 44th annual tournament.
The referee stopped the match and checked out Bush with coaches from both teams. It was obvious after about a minute that the muscular Patterson would not be able to continue against his rangy opponent. But that’s exactly what he did as Bush simply stayed motionless on his belly for the last 30 seconds of the match so Patterson would not have to use his injured arm and could be the champion. I’m guessing father and son discussed this while Patterson was trying valiantly to recover from his injury and one or both of them told the referee and the Indian River coach what Marek was going to do.
The Bush-Patterson match made me think of how things were handled differently in a match I saw 45 years ago when I was a high school wrestler in Syracuse. One of my teammates, while being pinned, was bitten on the upper arm by his opponent. Blood was drawn and there were teeth marks. I even recall our coach had someone take a Polaroid photo of it right after the match.
But the referee didn’t have the courage to disqualify the standout wrestler who bit my teammate and the star’s coach did not do the right thing and have his wrestler forfeit his win, or at least apologize.
We were all disgusted.
The opposite was the case when “wrestling” resumed between Bush and Patterson. It took a few seconds for people to realize what Bush was doing and almost all of the 500-plus fans rose to their feet to give the CVA standout a very long standing ovation. I could not tell if there were tears in the eyes of others in the crowd because there were enough in mine that I could not see them.
I’m betting there were.
What Bush did on that winter night was something I’ve never seen or heard of in my 50 years of being a competitor in and a coach, referee and sports reporter of wrestling. If there have been similar instances then I hope they have been shared through word of mouth, the written word, and/or video means.
In this world of 24/7 news and most of it being quite negative, it’s magnificent to witness what Marek Bush – under the guidance of his equally classy father/coach Bob Bush – did on a wrestling mat in his hometown.