WEST VIRGINIA MAT THOUGHTS
by Dr. Bill Welker
by Alfred C. Martino
Wrestling is unique in that it asks more of an athlete than any other sport imaginable. Ivan Korske and Bobby Zane epitomize this extreme dedication in Alfred C. Martino's novel Pinned.
The story line is quite simple; two New Jersey wrestlers at the same weight class want to be state champions their senior year. On the other hand, the plot demonstrates the complexities of growing up and coming of age.
Ivan Korske craves more than anything to escape from his lower middle class environment. His hard-nose father is from the old school of "no excuses," with a "don't-let-anybody-push-you-around" philosophy. His mother, Anna, has recently passed away and Ivan is devastated by this personal loss. She was the softer side of his family and now she was gone. Though overwhelmed with grief, Ivan covers up his feelings with distain for others, except his friend Shelley. He releases his frustrations on the competitive mats.
Bobby Zane is faced with different dilemmas. His family is well to do: the father's a lawyer and the mother's a realtor. However, their marriage is falling apart and Bobby must comfort his younger brother Christopher (and himself), as they endure their parents' constant bickering. Bobby's physical outlet is wrestling. It keeps his mind off his deepening depression over his parents' inevitable separation, and his concern over Christopher's confusion and fears. To make matters even worse, Bobby is confronted with an unexpected girlfriend problem.
Wrestling devotees will appreciate the work ethic of Ivan and Bobby as they
perfect their moves throughout the season. Those readers who have not previously
been exposed to the mat sport will be amazed at Martino's vivid descriptions of a wrestler's total devotion: the sultry, sweating practices, the workouts and running after practice, and the dieting. It is a committed wrestler's daily routine in his quest for a state championship…and every bit of it is authentic.
Ivan Korske, full of confidence, has been annihilating his adversaries throughout the entire season. Ivan is undefeated at the end of the regular season. His way out, a college scholarship, rides on winning states. And Ivan is ready.
Bobby Zane, on the other hand, had a slow start, with one defeat at the beginning of the season. However, as the year progresses, Bobby regains his confidence and peaks at the start of the post-season tournaments. He feels invincible and will settle for nothing less than a state championship. Bobby is also ready.
As fate would have it, Ivan and Bobby do ultimately meet in the state finals. The match-up was slated to be one of the most memorable finals in the annals of New Jersey wrestling. The fans were sure that they would not be disappointed as Ivan and Bobby shook hands, both equally sure of victory.
Who wins? Whose dream of high-school wrestling immortality is destroyed?
Pinned is a must-read novel for the avid sports fan. Ivan's and Bobby's stories will move you.
Bill Welker, Ed.D.
former Pennsylvania State Champion
Wrestling USA Magazine
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