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Senior moment

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People and Places

By Peter W. Zubaty, Sports Editor

Each school year, dozens of teams host their Senior Night, a time to honor those who have “put in their time,” so to speak, through countless hours of practice, games, matches and other activities that go along with being part of a team.

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I can’t be at all of them — but I am always grateful for the invitations — and as a general rule don’t often run Senior Night pictures, if ever, for a few reasons. The main one is fairness, as I can’t guarantee that I can be at every team’s Senior Night, generally because of scheduling conflicts and the pressures of being a one-man sports staff. If one team gets its Senior Night photo in the paper, another will invariably be left scratching its head as to why theirs didn’t make it, and feelings sometimes get hurt.

I’m making an exception for this one, however.

For one thing, wrestling is a fairly new sport to the area, with Nelson County having a team for only half a decade. Fledgling sports often don’t get the coverage of more-popular mainstays such as basketball and football, which dominate the pages. So, it’s kind of my way of evening the score.

Plus, Nelson County only has a couple of home meets per year, so that also limits how often I can get out to see them.

But the clincher for me was how the Cardinals’ Senior Night events had an interesting juxtaposition of athletes sharing tender moments with loved ones in an arena that just a few minutes afterward would be the site of something “mean and nasty,” as Nelson coach Sean McCarthy has described the sport.

For most of the current bunch of seniors, they are entering the stretch run of their season. Region tournaments are just around the corner next month, with the Cardinals hopeful for delayed Christmas gifts in the form of state tournament berths. Seniors Matt Hillard and Alex Pearson are seeking a third consecutive trip to state, while classmates Daniel Pile and Zach Plowman are hoping to return for the first time since they were sophomores in 2009, the same year the Cardinals established a school record by qualifying nine wrestlers for the state meet.

“I’d love to get a second chance at placing,” said Pile, whose brother, Jamie, got all the way to the state semifinals in 2009.