Too often it is the sad, often violence-filled transgressions of young men that dominate the news. But over the past weekend, the amazing accomplishments of three Twin Cities 18-year-olds were bright spots during a month when flooding and tornadoes have cast a pall over the entire region.
On Saturday, a three-time state wrestling champ from Anoka High School put determination into overdrive to win a spot on the U.S Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling team. Jake Deitchler is one of the youngest ever to make the team and the first high school grappler to vie for Olympic glory in 32 years. His victory at the Olympic trials in Las Vegas came the old-fashioned way: through hard work.
Deitchler is the kind of guy who is the first at practice and the last to leave. As a kid, he badgered coaches, always wanting to know what else he could do to be the best. On Saturday, it all paid off in come-from-behind victories as he knocked off Harry Lester, an expected gold medal contender in Beijing, and another top U.S. wrestler. If ABC still ran the old Jim McKay-narrated Wide World of Sports montage, the shot of a victorious Deitchler exulting on the mat would be a contender for the thrill-of-victory segment.
Then there's the "Bloomitte Expedition.'' If ever there were an adventure to warm the heart of an editorial writer, this would be it. On Sunday, Sean Bloomfield and Colton Witte of Chaska accomplished their goal of canoeing from the Twin Cities to the Arctic Ocean. The 2,200 mile-journey was inspired by a book: "Canoeing with the Cree,'' an account by legendary journalist Eric Sevareid of his canoe trek from Minnesota to Hudson Bay. Bloomfield and Witte made the journey in 49 days, arriving in a misty, ice-strewn Hudson Bay on Sunday. Back home, their parents chronicled the adventure on www.colton-seanhudsonbay.com. Their pride -- and relief -- is evident and touching in the final blog entries. You can almost hear the whoops of excitement echoing round their suburban homes.
There is much to celebrate in the three young men's accomplishments. But it would be remiss not to acknowledge those who raised such marvelous sons. Behind the wrestling Olympian are parents who drove to practice and spent their free time cheering him on as he took the mat. Behind the canoeing heros are parents who encouraged their sons to read and dream big.
Congratulations to Jason and Racheal Deitchler, Dan and Kathy Witte, and Patrick and Patricia Bloomfield. And thank you for a job well done.