Heroes and special people
By Tom Colstad
Tomahawk Leader Sports Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
Heroes come in a wide range of sizes, ages and abilities, and they typically make sacrifices for the benefit of others. Sometimes heroes just make the lives of people around them a lot brighter by making them feel "special."
Tomahawk is blessed to have lots of "heroes" and "special" people in its community and schools. The following is a story about some heroes and a very special little guy:
Recently during a first-grade physical education class taught by Dan Wilson and Bonnie Kahn, Wilson was challenged to an arm wrestling contest by six-year-old Nick Heiner, son of Francis and Donna Heiner.
Wilson accepted Nick's challenge, but insisted that the two compete for something really meaningful - a marble, a pencil, a good-time ticket and a candy bar.
Although afflicted with cerebral palsy, the 45-pound dynamo "beat" Wilson after a 40-second struggle and won the spoils of war.
"The next day in the lunchroom, Nick told me that if I want to get as strong as he is, I'll have to eat more vegetables," shared Wilson.
Kahn, acting as a wrestling promoter, saw an opportunity for Nick to make a real name for himself. She arranged for him to arm wrestle senior Josh Chelf, also known as "the Beast," Tomahawk's four-time state wrestling tournament qualifier and the strongest, toughest kid in the entire school.
The 171-pound Chelf agreed to meet Heiner at the fieldhouse in front of dozens of first graders and some of their parents on Thursday, Feb. 19, two days before Chelf was to compete in the WIAA sectional wrestling tourney in Amery.
Wilson and Kahn put up a Three Musketeers candy bar as the winner's purse.
Both gladiators lay belly-down on a wrestling mat, locked their competitive arms together and began a grueling, two-minute-long battle for supremacy of the strong-man world.
As the match swayed to-and-fro, Chelf eventually saw the handwriting on the wall. If he tried to hold off Nick's relentless attack much longer, he might not be able to recover his strength in time for the wrestling sectional on Saturday.
When the match entered its third minute, Chelf succumbed to Nick's indomitable strength and spirit. The back of his hand touched the mat.
"I really thought Josh would be stronger than that," said Nick. "He was lots stronger than Mr. Wilson, though.
"Josh and I are the two best wrestlers in school," Nick commented.
Afterwards, Nick's mom, Donna, was overheard asking Chelf, "What is your season record so far?"
Chelf answered, "It was 35-0 before today."
Chelf admitted that he had a harder time wrestling down 130 pounds than wrestling up 45, as he did when he won the Lumberjack Conference crown at 215 pounds on Feb. 7.
Rumors have already started buzzing around the Tomahawk Elementary School that there will be a rematch between the two wrestling champions later this spring.
Fortunately for Tomahawk wrestling fans, Chelf recovered his strength by the time sectionals rolled along and won his weight class in handy fashion.
Perhaps after Chelf wins the Division 2 171-pound state title at Madison this weekend, he will be more able to concentrate on putting up a better fight against Nick in the next "Battle of the Champions."
The two were "rivals" for a few minutes and are now best buddies.
"I'm going to do my best to win a state championship for you, Nick," said Chelf as the two embraced and shook hands.
"It was really nice of Josh to do what he did for Nick," remarked Donna. "That kind of encouragement will help Nick get stronger and able to walk.
"Nick has a great kid to look up to as a role model," she concluded.
Chelf took a lot of good-natured ribbing from his admirers as a result of his "defeat" to Nick, but won tons of respect from those who know him as a "good guy."
He represents the best among Tomahawk's youth and is truly a hero.