James Morris' passion for sports extends beyond the gridiron.
Though he'll lend the University of Iowa his linebacking skills for the next four years, Morris has made a statement in this year's Iowa High School State Wrestling Tournament as well.
While Morris may have had a tad more success on the football field, helping Solon High School achieve its third straight state football championship, he shares his love for wrestling with many of his fellow Iowa athletes.
Iowans love their football, whether it's high school, college or professional. The Hawkeyes' trumping of Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl shows promise for a team that has most of the state excited for the 2010 season.
But for Iowans, wrestling is more than a sport. Calling it a way of life may come off as far too cliche, but it's simply a truth for many Iowans.
Iowa and wrestling are as inseparable as Canada and hockey.
Wrestling is a one-on-one battle against you and your opponent. It takes hard work, determination, passion and guts. As the legendary, former University of Iowa wrestling coach Dan Gable once said, "Once you've wrestled, everything else in life is easy."
The sport represents the pride and work ethic of the Midwest.
Many kids first learned wrestling in their own living rooms from their father, or from an older brother who learned it from his father and wanted an excuse to "hone his skills" on a little twerp.
Making it to the Iowa High School State Wrestling Tournament is a feat in itself. James Morris is one of many young Iowans who have stood tests of endurance, strength, patience and pure heart.
Morris entered the tournament with an impressive 34-0 record but was handed his first defeat in the Class 3A 215 pound quarterfinals Friday afternoon by Senior Ryan Fank of Independence (40-2).
Morris will wrestle Logan Johnson of Algona High School tonight for a chance to wrestle for third place—no small accomplishment in the country's best high school wrestling showcase.
Just placing is reason enough to hold your head high, and Morris won't finish any worse than sixth place.
No matter where he stands on the podium when it's all said and done, Morris has shown that he has the right traits to make a mark in Norm Paker's Iowa defense.
Hopefully for Morris, now that his wrestling career winds down, everything else will be easy.
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