Just so everyone knows, what our NAIA All-Americans accomplished is giant, especially in the face of a high school state tournament medal, which gets 1000× the attention on our boards here. I'm not trying to store the ship pot here too much, I just want to be emphatic in describing how big of a deal it is to be an AA, especially coming from a state with no sponsored varsity wrestling programs at the NCAA DI, DII, D3, or NAIA levels. Highline, a CC, is our lone sponsored varsity college wrestling torchbearer. It is exceptionally rare for Washington wrestlers to reach the AA level, and we do NOT recognize these kids nearly enough.
Perhaps folks just don't have much perspective because so few of Washington's best for forth and compete in college, but our high school talent receives 1000:1 the attention that our college talent does, and it's an egregious disservice to these athletes. Yes, high school gets the most attention because it has far more participants in WA, but college wrestlers receive shockingly few mentions or pats on the back on this board. I have a few theories why, and I don't think they're nefarious or deliberate, but that's not what this post is about. Not to diminish a state tournament placing, as that's super impressive in its own right, but placing top 8 in a 16 man bracket against regional talent pales by comparison with a medal at the NAIA (or any other) national tournament. These are 32 man brackets placing top 8. 32 of the toughest dudes in the country, most everyone is a state champion or multiple time state placers out of the 32. I saw a lot of groaning about HS brackets not placing enough people, so imagine the NAIA tourney (or other national tournament). We should throw these studs a party and make a huge deal of their success, because they have done is far and away unbelievably tough. College wrestling is unsung in Washington, for reasons, the primary one likely being the lack of college wrestling opportunities available provincially. Anyway, massive kudos to those wrestlers, I'm not sure the average HS wrasslin fan appreciates how freaking tough and good you have to be to AA at any college level. We often talk about how hard tri state, PAC coast, the state tournament, etcetera are. Well, multiply those tough ass tournaments by 10 (at least). I don't mean to repeat myself, but let me reiterate: everyone in the bracket was the stud where they came from. Everyone in the bracket is a multiple time placer/champ, except in very rare circumstances.
I wish we could throw a big banquet for our all Americans each year and recognize them further. Come up with some kind of Washington state wrestling achievement/honors medal, or something of the like. These are our guys/girls who go forth and face the best of the best from all over the country. Our list of all-time All Americans is not particularly long, so I just think they should be recognized. Obviously, the NAIA is not the NCAA, but don't let that fool you. You still have to be a major stud to win hardware.