David O'Brien let out a scream and grimaced as he immediately reached for his left shoulder. The referee quickly recognized the situation blew the whistle.
The on-site EMTs and coaching staff hurried to O'Brien's aid on the mat. The Mount Greylock wrestler wasn't able to continue his bout for third and fourth place at the Western Massachusetts Division III wrestling meet Saturday and was awarded fourth place.
Injuries like O'Brien's are part of wrestling. Every athlete and coach that participates in the sport knows that.
Greylock coach Ray Miro is fearful that even more injuries than normal will occur when the Division III state meet gets underway today.
The postseason wrestling schedule has been condensed due to the large snow storm that hit the state two weeks ago. Wrestlers who qualified for the state meet jump back onto the mats just two days after competing in their sectional meets, meaning there's another opponent at play - fatigue.
"Injuries are the first and foremost thought," Miro said. "When you're putting it together that much, kids are going to get tired. It's like a soccer game that goes into overtime. You know when the most injuries happen, it's toward the end of the game. It's similar.
"Kids' skills are breaking down a little bit as they are getting tired. I have to believe there is some cumulative effect. Also kids may not make weight, it might just be too much."
Two days between big tournaments means recovery time is fast-tracked. O'Brien's finish was enough to qualify him for states. A week may have been ample time for the 152-pounder to recover from his shoulder injury, which was the original time between Western Mass. and states before the storm restructured the schedule. The quick turnaround has left his status for today unclear.
The MIAA decided to go with a condensed schedule to give Massachusetts wrestlers a chance to compete in the New England Regional tournament, if they qualify. Had all the Massachusetts meets been pushed back one week, All-States would have occurred on the same weekend as the New England tournament.
"I don't like it," Jackson said. "We only get two days in-between matches to rest up. I don't think it's enough time to relax and recover."
The Division III state tournament will begin this afternoon at Wakefield Memorial High School and conclude on Wednesday. Eight Mounties qualified for the tournament. Devon Pelletier (120 pounds), Travis Hilchey (126), Cayman Mead (132), CJ Lillie (138), Mitch Graves (145), O'Brien (152), Johnny Colon (170) and Ross Jackson (182) all qualified for the meet by finishing in the top four of their respective weight class at the Western Massachusetts sectional meet.
The top wrestlers from states advance to All-States, which begins Saturday.
In order for any of the eight Greylock wrestlers to get there, they will have to contend with the short break.
Most wrestlers had to compete in four, possibly five, matches to advance to the state level. Miro gave his team the day off on Sunday to rest before returning to practice on Monday.
Even with returning to the practice room on Monday, it's difficult to accomplish much. The athletes need to make sure they hit their weight for the upcoming tournament, but several are also still recovering from bumps and bruises suffered at the sectional tournament.
To win states, they will have to wrestle another five to six matches, giving some wrestlers 10 matches in just six days.
"It's a lot, especially the mental part," Miro said. "They need a day off mentally. They need to relax and let their bodies recover a bit."
In addition to O'Brien, Pelletier is also banged up from his weekend. He had to take a few seconds to recover from being slammed to the mat in a match early on Saturday. He finished the day, but said he was feeling the bruises from the match.
After finishing in third place as a team at sectionals, the Mounties are focused on individual improvement at states.
Graves lost a difficult semifinal match in the sectional and is hoping to bounce back.
"I just have to work hard these next couple of days and go there focused and not think about [the loss]," Graves said Saturday. "I just have to be ready for states."
Several of the Mounties will be making their first trips to the state tourney.
Pelletier is an eighth-grader, while Mead and O'Brien are freshmen. Hilchey is a sophomore. Colon, a junior, is a first-year wrestler making the trip.
Hilchey lost an overtime battle in the semifinals at sectionals. He was able to bounce back to take third place.
"I know I'm going to have to run a lot," Hilchey said. "I'm going to have to practice hard and then after practice, I'm going to have to keep working hard so I'm in good shape to go that extra period."
Wrestlers were given an extra-pound allowance for the tournament because states is so close to Western Mass. Weigh-ins will begin at noon today with wrestling beginning around 2 p.m. On Wednesday, weigh-ins will begin at 11:30 a.m. with the matches starting at 12:30 p.m. The finals are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.