Ashley LodatoBy Ashley Lodato

With two consecutive years of state championships as well as four first-place medals under their belts and only three seniors leaving the team for next year, you’d think that the Liberty Bell High School varsity wrestling team lacks nothing. To be sure, its wrestlers have temporarily rendered their hair the color of lemon-lime Gatorade, but as someone who once sported a Cyndi Lauper circa 1984-inspired hairdo, I’m not one to mock the coiffure selections of modern youth.

No, really the only thing this team of champions needs is a new set of wrestling mats. The mats at the high school are apparently so old and worn that the other teams in the league have refused to compete at Liberty Bell until new mats are acquired. No mats equals no home meets, which might mean forfeiting half of the season’s matches, which would definitely mean no state championship next year.

Enter Kiwanis. As many people know, the proceeds from the Fund-a-Dream portion of Kiwanis’ Bite of the Methow event coming up March 15 are always used to accomplish some special project that needs doing — always a project that benefits kids in the valley. Fittingly, this year the push is for a new set of wrestling mats. As Kiwanis member Carl Miller says, “Champions deserve mats.” You can support the purchase of new wrestling mats (and other projects) by attending the Bite or by making a donation to Kiwanis.

Champions are everywhere! An intrepid group of Methow men (Joe Brown, Adam Kaufman and John Spaude, and Bellingham friend David Neubeck) celebrated frequent valley visitor Dale Plant’s 50th birthday with a 50-50 adventure on Saturday. The day began with a blustery ski up over the Rendezvous and across the windy Community Trail to Winthrop.

After 50 kilometers of skate skiing, the group gathered at the Rocking Horse Bakery for lunch, fully enjoying the experience of seeing the birthday boy enter the wrong door to the bakery that he had no idea was being renovated.

Proving that he still had all his marbles even after half a century, Dale recovered quickly from his disorientation and after a hearty lunch the group soldiered on to the second 50 of the day, riding fat bikes until 6 p.m. through soft new snow in windy conditions above Pearrygin Lake. Darkness and weather conditions prevented them from completing the full 50K bike ride, but since most of us were indoors by a toasty fire at that point, we should simply salute these champs.