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Danny Burk 03-18-2007 07:03 PM

The End....Part 2
So.....the regular season was over. It was very weird. Just to think about never wrestling in a dual again gave me a very weird and empty feeling. But, I couldn't really dwell on that type of thing, because I was preparing for the biggest tournament of my life. I had never wrestled in a national level tournament before. And, going into the 2007 MAC tourney, this was my last shot. I was seeded second, and would wrestle a kid from Ohio in the semis. The MAC gets 19 bids to the NCAAs.....the 10 champs, then 9 wild cards. So, I knew that if I made the finals, I would most likely be in. The semis didn't go as planned, as I was taken down in the first period, and had to fight from behind. But, I was able to score some crucial points at the end of periods, and came through with a 8-6 victory, putting me in the finals of the MAC tourney for the first time ever. Duke made the finals, too, and we would be wrestling the Sinnott brothers. So, it was kind of a cool situation, I guess. Except, we both lost. I again knew it was going to be a battle. CMU kids are very tough and very hard to score on, and Sinnott was able to take advantage of some mistakes I made, and won 10-4. After losing 5-3 in a close match in the dual, I wasn't happy about the result of the final one bit. I knew I could beat him, but I certainly didn't show it.

So, I was 2nd in the conference. I certainly was not happy about the result, especially since it didn't guarantee me a bid to the NCAAs. The meeting for wildcards seemed like it took forever. We went to eat, and I couldn't sit still. I was so nervous. I had no idea if I would ever wrestle in a match future seemed to be in limbo. When I finally found out I made it, I was speechless. All my life, I had watched NCAA wrestling. On TV, in person.....the NCAA tournament was so awesome to watch and go to and everything. But now, Duke and I were going to be competing in it, and I was extremely happy. It was a dream come true......I mean, ya, I would have liked to been wrestling in the NCAAs the past couple years, too, obviously. But, it wasn't in the cards. But now, my last year, and to have Duke make it with was almost as if I was meant to wait for him to qualify with me.
So, I was happy, and my family was happy, and things were good. But, then I returned back home from Buffalo, and refocused again. After all, I was 2nd in the MAC....not first. And, I had to prepare myself to battle in my last tournament ever. So, I took the 10 days or so and trained smart and kept doing the right things, and focused on peaking my body to be ready to go.

Last Monday, the brackets came out. I had joked with my family that it would be my luck to get Ben Askren in the first round....and sure enough, bout 9, a pigtail, had Ben Askren vs Danny Burk. Not the best draw in the world, but I couldn't complain. The next couple of days were fun. We traveled, we worked out, we relaxed....but most of all, we had fun. The four of us are all pretty laid back, and our coaches keep things loose, so it was a good time. I felt ready to go. I knew my first match was say the least. But I always knew that I had a "secret move" in my back pocket, and if I could catch him ONCE, I would have a chance. Going into the match, I was pretty relaxed. The atmosphere was awesome, and I was excited, but I never get too "pumped" before my matches. Ben kind of beat me up a little bit. I was able to get him to throw legs, but I could never capitalize on "my move" although I did pick up a reversal out of it. (For those of you who don't know......I let people put legs in on me, and try to pin them. Its really my best move, haha). But yea, I thought I wrestled hard, but he is very unorthodox, and hard to wrestle. He ended up tech-falling me, and I certainly was not happy. But, to make matters worse, he was pretty classless in victory. It's one thing to lose to a kid. It's another to lose bad.....but it's a whole new story when the kid is a complete punk about things. I won't go into details....if you want to know, just ask. But, I have a lot of respect for Ben as a wrestler.....but as a person, I lost all respect for him. He's a great wrestler, and I give him props. But his actions throughout the whole tournament were uncalled for.

So I went to the wrestlebacks, and had a long road to reach another goal....All-American. I won my first match, 11-3. I felt great. My second match was against a kid from Binghamton....where my old coach, Dennis Papadatos, is now an assistant. So that was weird. I remember being down 5-2, on the bottom, in the first period, and thinking "wow, this is how it's going to end?" Then after the period, I looked into the corner, and I saw Coach Ludwig and Coach Castillo. And I remembered what they told me before the match....."don't let it end here." From that moment on, I knew I was going to win. I came back and won, 9-7. It felt great. I looked into the crowd, and the NIU fans were on their feet, and I found my family, and there were cheering, and I was excited. Heck, my dad even gave me a fist pump from the upper deck....I loved it. So, my career was going to last AT LEAST another day. And, even better, all 3 of my teammates were going to wrestle the second day, as well.

Going into the second day, my body felt pretty sore, but I was feeling confident. The only problem was, my next opponent was Kenny Robertson, again. I go into every match with the same attitude, no matter who it is against. But I knew that this match marked the end of a career....for one of us. And, I hated to see it end like that. But, I had to stay focused on my job.....winning. The match didn't go well for me, and I trailed by 2 in the third period. I was pressing the action, but just couldn't score. We went out of bounds, and I ran back to the middle, and all I could think about was all the time I had put into the sport. Was it over now?? I just kept thinking about the early morning runs in the summer. The late nights spent watching tapes......I knew I couldn't let myself down now. I kept shooting, and with 20 seconds left found myself in on a deep shot, scrambling. I finally finished with about 4 seconds left, and went into OT. I was in deep again, twice, in OT, but couldn't finish. Double OT. It was two friends, neither one wanting their career to end. I was on top to start, and was able to ride him out. I was on bottom in the second part. The whole match, Kenny was throwing legs, and I couldn't hit "the move" because he knew it was coming. But in OT, when the legs came in, I reacted a bit faster, and caught him for a reversal, and rode him out. 6-4, OT. Looking back, it was probably the best moment of my wrestling career.....I looked up, to my family, and I was over-joyed. It felt great to win like that......and to prolong my career once again.

But the joy lasted only a few minutes. Shortly after my win, Duke lost to a Wisconsin kid to end his season. I hate seeing Duke lose. It's worse than me losing. So, I went from being happy, to being kind of sad. But, I think Duke realized that he has some work to do, and he's ready to commit himself. He has a lot of time, and is off to a great start.

Then, just a short time after that, I saw my roommate Pat Castillo's season end, and I was again pretty sad. Pat is a warrior. The kid works hard, dedicates himself to his goals, and deserves to be successful. Nothing is given to him, he earns it. He lost a kid from Okie St, who, in my opinion, received some gracious calls because of the singlet he wears. But, Pat had a great season, and will be back next year to step on the stand.

So, I really had to be selfish and focus on myself going into the next match....against Sinnott from Central Michigan. I thought I wrestled a good match. He took me down early, but I stuck with my game plan, and with one minute to go in the third period, I was down 3-2. I kept pressing, but was unable to score....losing 3-2. Season over. Career over. Dreams over. It was just a weird, weird feeling. I promised myself and my family that I would walk away with a after the match, I looked into the crowd, and waved to my family. Just so they knew that I was OK. I shook Sinnott's hand, and told him good luck. I shoot Coach Borelli's hand, and told him how much respect I have for his program. And I shook my coaches' hands, and told them thanks. It was weird. It was hard. It still is hard.

I never reached my goal of National Champ. I never was an All-American. But as a I sit today, I can honestly say I gave everything I had into the sport, and did everything I could be to successful. It wasn't always easy. But I stuck to it, and I was able to accomplish a lot. I walk away with very few regrets....and walk away thankful for having the chance to compete at the level I did. I knew it was going to end this weekend, regardless, so I was prepared. I just wanted to go out knowing I didn't hold anything back, and I am doing that. I went through a lot, but I never stopped believing in my dreams. I may not have reached them, but sometimes its the journey that matters the most. And, my journey was wonderful, and I would never ask for anything different. The coaches I have had all mean the world to me. They all helped me the whole way, and were there for me no matter what. And, of course, my teammates.....amazing people. Patty, Johnny and Duke all went out and did their best this weekend....just fell short. Everyone on our team holds a special place in my heart. And, certainly I have to thank my family. Mom and Dad have been there for me through it all. Injuries. Surgeries. Heartbreaks. Joys....everything. They are the best. Duke has been my best friend for over 20 years. He has been a great training partner, and is going to do big things in the future. Mike and Mel have always been there for me, too. They are like best friends to me, and help me a lot more than they think. Dil and El just make the world seem so simple, and so easy. They make me relax, and have fun. I could thank these people forever....but I wont, because this is already too long.

I just want to end by saying thank you to all of you. This isn't my last blog. I'll keep you all updated on my job search and my future. I am going to graduate in May with a social studies degree, and hope to be a high school teacher and coach. But thanks for reading. Again....I may not have had the best career in the world. But coming from where I came from, and going through the things I went through......I really cant complain too much. I go out the way I promised.....smiling.

SHOUT OUT - This one goes to Mike Grimes. You all know his career ended earlier than he thought. The trip this weekend wasn't the same without him. He's a great person, and a great friend. He had a great career, and I am proud of him for the way he has handled it all.

To end....I just want to add that while I lost the last match of my career, I did not lose my last match of the weekend. See, on Saturday, between rounds, I was challenged by a certain "Mr. Admin" in a hotel room. After fighting off my laughter early in the match, I was able to score a late first period takedown, quickly followed by a cradle, for the fall.:D

Thanks again everyone.....I can't wait to start coaching high school wrestling in this great state. I will miss training and competing, but I look forward to the future, and helping young athletes chase their dreams.


admin 03-18-2007 07:31 PM


Originally Posted by DPBwrestle1 (Post 68399)
To end....I just want to add that while I lost the last match of my career, I did not lose my last match of the weekend. See, on Saturday, between rounds, I was challenged by a certain "Mr. Admin" in a hotel room. After fighting off my laughter early in the match, I was able to score a late first period takedown, quickly followed by a cradle, for the fall.

First of all, I just banned you from Illinois Matmen for including this in your blog. Second, I didn't know you were going to hit me with a nasty crossface after I gave up the first takedown. I'm your brother in law for crying out loud. Third, we were wrestling in the corner of hotel room. I need more space to showcase my quickness. Finally, I didn't have my singlet on. You saw what I did to Duke in bout #2 with my NIU singlet on.

Schultz133 03-18-2007 08:48 PM

u had a great career danny and you will be a good coach one day, i mean in 8th grade you were the best counselor ever haha

and remember, no matter what happens in wrestling.... we will always be the frisbee champions of the world, no one can match our skills!!!

good luck


The LOCK 03-19-2007 12:00 AM

Congrats on the career! And give Admin a beating for me!!!!

Snowsurf 07-14-2007 01:23 AM

For anyone who didn't hear, Danny told me at the NIU team camp that he will be coaching at Notre Dame (Peoria) next season.

Good luck Danny!

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