Spinning Tales — What A Difference A Week Made For Heithoff

By Dennis L. Morgan


From one week to the next, no one knows for sure what will take place in one’s life.

Everyone has a yesterday and most of us will have today, but tomorrow is promised to no one. It doesn’t matter if you have all the money in the world, all the power in the world, or are at the other end of the spectrum, there’s no guarantee when one lays down their head at night that they will see the sun rise tomorrow.

The same holds true for good fortune. On the farm, my father taught me there were no easy roads to success. A dirt farmer in Seward County, he said everything you want in life you would have to work for. Even then, there’s no guarantee for success, just a sense of fulfillment which would come from giving your best effort.

I thought of those words Saturday afternoon when, watching on television, I saw Dylan Heithoff’s arm raised as a state champion in the 189-pound weight class at the NSAA State Wrestling Championships. Heithoff was declared the winner when opponent Riley Santin of Palmer couldn’t continue due to an injury. Winning a state championship is no easy feat. It requires hours and hours of practice, then putting the lessons learned to work on the mats at tournament after tournament. Heithoff now has a state wrestling title to go with a state football championship earned when he was a sophomore.

At the same time, another thought crossed my mind. Actually, it was a scene which few saw just one week earlier at the District Wrestling Tournament held in Pender. 

On the side of the mat, I had photographed Heithoff’s match against Santin and watched as the Palmer athlete held off Heithoff in the third period to win the match.

One of the things I’ve always admired about Heithoff is his demeanor. From what I’ve seen, he’s not a showboat or a showoff. No matter the sport, he just goes out and does his job.

Anyway, back to Pender. At the conclusion of the match, I gathered my things and headed to the door. To my right, seated on the floor out of the view of many was Dylan. From what I saw, he was taking the loss pretty hard. After all, it was the third time the two had met on the mats and Santin had now won twice.

I wanted to say ‘good match’ or ‘you’ll get him next time’ but I didn’t because there’s a time to speak and there’s a time to leave someone alone for a moment. 

Now, a week later, I’ll always wonder what went through his mind in the moments after that loss and if he found something in the loss which made him a better wrestler at state. For the record, Santin and Heithoff are now 2-2 against each other this season.

It’s funny, not just in sports, but life too, when times seem the worst, we find something inside of us to make the situation better down the road. 

About next year? Palmer’s Santin and Heithoff will both be seniors and should provide wrestling fans some great moments when they meet again. 

Who knows, maybe their names will go down in history as one of the great matchups like Bird/Magic, Russell/Chamberlain and Switzer/Osborne. Only time will tell…