Carney Column: A moment that will live on forever
Sports often provides moments so powerful that those watching are moved with emotion. Those moments don’t need to be gut wrenching or overly powerful; they just need to spark an emotional reaction.
Growing up as a rapid sports fan, a number of moments stand out for me: Jerome Bettis hoisting the Super Bowl XL trophy in his hometown of Detroit to close his career, Santonio Holmes toe-tapping in the back right corner of the end zone to win Super Bowl XLIII, Marc-Andre Fleury’s sliding save to win the Stanley Cup, Patric Hornqvist bouncing the puck into the net off the back of Pekka Rinne to win the Penguins’ second straight Stanley Cup in 2017, and fans clad in all black chanting “Cueto! Cueto! Cueto!” in the first playoff baseball game in PNC Park history in 2013.
It’s time to add the moment Glenwood Springs seniors Wyatt Ewer and Bryce Risner shared on the podium last Saturday at JeffCo Stadium following the 4A 300m hurdle state championship race.
I’m sure you’ve read about it by now: Ewer edged Risner for the state championship by four-hundredths of a second, sparking a jubilant reaction for Ewer and one of heartbreak for Risner. Minutes later, standing on top of the medal podium in first and second, the two seniors shared a hug, encapsulating all it means to be a teammate and a friend.
Blake Risner, Glenwood’s longtime head coach and the father of Bryce, was in an unenviable situation. Risner was incredibly happy for Ewer, whom he called one of the greatest kid’s he’s ever coached, but was also upset for his son, who came up painstakingly short of a state championship, which was a goal he’d been working toward since he was 8 years old.
With those two standing on the podium hugging, it moved Risner to tears as a coach and a parent. For this reporter, I found myself with a lump in my throat and my mouth dry and the moment was so powerful and emotional. For me, that’s the shot I was hoping for; you live for powerful moments like that which you can capture and share with your readers. On one hand I was excited that I was ready and able to capture that moment, but on the other hand I was experiencing similar emotions to Blake Risner. In one hand, I was so incredibly happy for Ewer, who is by far one of the best kid’s I’ve had the pleasure of covering all these years. He’s always willing to chat with me, and is as nice as humanly possible; he’s easy to root for. But in that other hand, I was hurting for Risner, who has wanted nothing more than to stand on top of that medal podium in Lakewood as a state champion. As a former athlete, that feeling of coming up just short of a goal is a feeling that will never go away, and so I knew what Risner was experiencing up on that podium.
But that hug between the two … man. It’s hard to put into words. In that moment that it felt like Ewer knew his friend and teammate was hurting, so he offered his support. For Risner, it almost felt like the hug was a message to Ewer to be happy and enjoy the moment and that it was OK to celebrate. I can’t think of a better teaching moment for younger athletes on how to be a great teammate, friend, and competitor.
That moment reminded me of that emotional moment in a high school baseball game that went viral last June. Ty Koehns, a pitcher for Mounds View High School in St. Paul, Minnesota struck out his close friend, Jack Kocon of Totino-Grace High School, sending Mounds View to the state championship game. Instead of celebrating with his teammates, Koehns raced to home plate to console Kocon. That’s friendship; that’s leadership; that’s how the world should be.
Ewer and Risner displayed that very clearly again for me last Saturday. Sports is all about competing and besting the other guy or team, but beneath it all there’s a human element that really tugs at the heartstrings.
The two seniors might not think much of it because that’s who they are, but that moment and how they handled it left a profound impact on me, not only as a sports writer, but as a father and a friend.
Thank you for that, Wyatt and Bryce.
Josh Carney is the sports editor at the Post Independent. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Thanksgiving seems to be ever-present here in the Roaring Fork Valley. I’m not talking turkey and gravy, I’m speaking to the gifts we receive constantly, throughout the seasons.