The wrestling mat, itself, can be a lonely place. Whatever weakness you have can be exposed for all to see. There is no hiding and no teammate to cover it up. A wrestler is alone and teammates are there, not to resolve, but to only share in the solitude. Spencer, however, is even more secluded than most. He comes home to a small empty house while mom waits tables. The house is dark and quiet with only the kitchen light on. There’s always a plate of dinner left for him in the fridge, always, every night, consistent and predictable. He’ll usually do homework or sometimes not. There are days when he just crashes into his bed and stares to the ceiling. It doesn’t take much detective work to recognize that wrestling is the primary activity in this household. The house deco is kind of a “Midwestern grappler” motif. Pictures of Spencer litter the living room and his bedroom displays trophies and medals of successes in years past. There is one picture that is curious and stands apart from all the others.
It’s a photo of a lone pair of wrestling shoes, worn and used, resting at the center of a mat. Almost cliché, some wrestlers have been known to leave their shoes on the mat to signify their last match and their exodus from the sport. The shoes in the photo belongs to Jon Trenge who upon winning his NCAA match for third place in the nation, left his shoes on the mat and walked off to tell the crowd that he was done. His hand raised in victory and his journey complete. Although that journey’s destination was not a national championship, it was one that demanded admiration and respect. It was also a glaring reminder to Spencer that this sport of wrestling that has identified him for the past nine years must someday come to an end and that his journey will also, someday be complete. All that remains to be seen is where that journey will ultimately lead.