I've been thinking, and I'm starting to think that there might be a reality where Bo lost the NCAA Finals Match against Myles Martin as a freshman on purpose. HEAR ME OUT!!! I know you think that I'm writing this as a dig towards the Buckeye, but I'm not. He's great, fun to watch, and I remember where I was the day I learned he committed to Ohio State. Like when Michael Jackson died, I'll always remember. I was sad, but I'd never wish ill will towards Myles. My point is, Bo now has a long history of destroying souls and making people look stupid. There is a world out there, where Bo looks at his career in the NCAA with the long view. That his goal was to take this trip through the NCAA with the intent to simply crush the morale out of his opponents, through a series of demoralizing defeats. Everyone knows that college wrestlers are mentally tough, but just how much psychological warfare can they take? That's what Bo is aiming to find out.
Freshman year, Bo kills just about everyone throughout the year, and ends up in the finals against Myles, who he had already meticulously torn limb from limb, while trying a series of throws and moves that otherwise shouldn't work. This reminds me of a time when I was with my friend Marty, who wrestled and coached at Princeton, and he pointed out several times through the match when he Bo was in position to get a takedown, but completely avoided it to try to turn/pin Myles. It's something that you don't really see unless you are at a higher level than myself, but once you see it, you can't unsee it. And yet, he put himself in such bad positions, time and time again, in the NCAA finals. Why? I believe it could have been to give Myles the belief and hope that he can beat Bo. What's more disheartening than losing to someone who you've already beaten? What can be more mentally perplexing? Why can't I replicate what I already was able to do? Am I getting worse? WHAT IS HAPPENING?!?!? Of course, we all think of how great it would be to be a 4x NCAA champ, but maybe we shouldn't assume that your motivating factors are the same for others. Some people want to watch the world/others peoples dreams burn. That, I'm suggesting, is Bo.
As a sophomore, he came up a weight to take out what was primed to be one of the greatest NCAA careers ever for Gabe Dean. Dean was ready to finish 3, 1, 1, 1, and yet 3, 1, 1, 2, doesn't feel quite as nice. Dean handled it with class, because that's what Gabe Dean does, and Bo continued on his boulevard of broken dreams. I was in my basement, feeling crushed to see the West Michigan native not get his third championship, and bewildered at the controversial takedown call that ended up being a pivotal call in the match. As happy as I was to see Bo win his first, it came at the expense of one of our favorites. Bo, once again, was involved in a high profile NCAA championship match, that had me feeling confused, and vulnerable. At this time though, I couldn't have thought that this would become a habitual, and certainly at the least, annual feeling.
This most recent season was an interesting one. Let's start with the several early season tournaments where it was abundantly clear that Bo and Mark Hall were in a competition to see who would pin their opponents in the least amount of time. Standing cement mixers and lefty headlocks were thrown around like water balloons on a hot summer afternoon. Demoralizing is a term that comes to mind, but I'm not sure that captures it. These are adults who are trained, for probably over a decade at this point in their lives, specifically to stop this from happening. Anyway, then we get to the Michigan dual, where once again I felt my heart sink into my stomach as I watched several takedowns from Abounader, not get called. My hat had to deal with my emotional outburst, but thankfully I was able to fix it. Bo just continues to manipulate the minds of his opponents and those around him.
Lastly, the biggest stage. The NCAA Finals, against Martin once again, with the NCAA Team Race on the line. I don't remember the exact details, but I know that if Bo won, it was over, and if Myles won, then there was still a chance for them to win (and they would have because Snyder won as well). The match starts very similarly to their match as Freshman. Bo looks a little wild, and wrestles without concern for his own, or his teams, well-being. Myles must have felt great about how this is starting. Is lightning going to strike twice? Am I a gamer? Do I just rise to the occasion when the lights are on? Wait, what's happening? Oh no! NO!!! NOOOOOOO!!!!!
Just like that, I watched Bo silence thousands of people. Sitting next to my friend Brandon (big Ohio State fan, and co host of The Inside Trip Podcast), and watching the inevitable championship slip through their grasp, and watching the color drain from his face, was really hard to watch. I couldn't even really enjoy what was a pretty iconic moment because I felt bad for what I had just seen. It's like if your friend tells you about their pet that died, and you feel bad, but you didn't really like that pet anyway. I don't usually think of Bo as someone who celebrates wildly, or shows much emotion, but in the lowest moment for his biggest rival, and their fan base, he certainly displayed quite a bit of emotion. The normally reserved Bo, talked about how he's been hitting that move on his victims for years, and how nobody will stop this Blue and White tornado from destroying all in it's path.
What will he do this year? Will Zahid bump up to 184 to challenge Bo? Does Zahid like waking up in the middle of the night with nightmares of this demon ginger in blue and white? I've seen it. I've seen it in person. He's like the night king from GOT. You don't think he can knock down and dragon with an ice javelin from 400 yards away, but then it happens! He can do anything to anyone, but don't worry, he'll remind you that it's been happening to everyone for years after it happens to you. There is something comforting about knowing that you're not the only one suffering the trauma that he inflicts. Sadly, like a scary movie, I'm looking forward to watching it again this next season.