Winning is important, but there's more to sport than coming out on top, and that shouldn't go unrecognized.

FILE PHOTO - Just because you lost, doesn't make you a loser."Second place is first loser": A saying made popular by the hypercompetitive in response to the reluctant congratulatory gestures of those trying to ease your pain.

I'm that guy — the one who, even at a heightened age, despises losing far more than I enjoy the return on a winning investment. There is one goal in the competitive arena, and winning is it. It's not about doing your best, coming close and/or giving it the old college try, but rather coming out on top and doing so in the most convincing way possible.

Having said that — I'm a fool, and I know it.

There really is more to sport than winning, and I say that from the perspective of being old enough to know better. While it's important, certainly, to strive for victory, it's equally important to at least pause during times of defeat and appreciate not only what you put into it but also what you achieved, even if you came up short.

I say this in an attempt to speak to all the kids who I saw come up a bit short at last weekend's OSAA State Wrestling Championships — specifically, guys like Century's Adrian Rodriguez and Josh Grant, and Hilhi's Tyler Rabang, all of whom placed second and all of whom deserved better than their reluctant appearances on the runner-up podium.

Wrestling is one of the few high school sports remaining that simply demands hard work. You don't skate through a wrestling season, meet or practice. And if you do, the sport and the people in it will chew you up and spit you out. It's about conditioning, mat time and finding a gear you never thought you had. So participation is in itself worthy of respect, and success at a high level is even more impressive.

And that's what state high school runner-up is — success.

No one in their position wants to say that. And I get it. But that's what makes what I'm about to say that much more important.

You guys and gals are winners.

Losers don't wrestle. Losers don't make it to a state final. And losers don't take defeat well, which is why I'm here to do it for you.

Roll your eyes, shake your head, mumble beneath your breath. I get it, and I would've done the same thing. But know this: You're not losers, you just lost. There's a big difference.

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