His career ended on a losing note, but Schwartz a winner

In Lenny Schwartz’s eyes, Saturday was just another part of his growth as a person.

And as his high school wrestling career came to an end one win short of a trip to this weekend’s Mat Classic in the Tacoma Dome, there was no mention of failure, no frustration in his voice and absolutely no regrets.

“Honestly, I can’t say that I’m upset that I lost tonight,” Schwartz said. “I feel like I’ve grown. I feel like I’ve grown a lot.”

That’s the way the personable and very likeable Schwartz summed up not only his Class 4A Region III wrestling tournament at Foss High School in Tacoma, but also his whole year. One that saw him continually get better and better with each passing week.

And the opponent Schwartz lost to Saturday night was the perfect measuring stick for his growth as a wrestler

Schwartz fell one-point short of qualifying for the Class 4A state wrestling tournament not once but twice Saturday. He lost to Stevie Valadez of Port Angeles 7-5 in overtime in the semifinals of the 189-pound division and then lost a heart-breaker to Central Kitsap’s Daniel Mayfield 15-13 in overtime in the consolation round, a match that saw the winner advance to this weekend’s state tourney.

“It was an amazing match and I had an outstanding time,” Schwartz said of the Mayfield classic. “Honestly, I had an amazing time.”

So instead of moving on, Schwartz ended up placing sixth in what would wind up being his final tournament as a high school wrestler.

The match against Mayfield was a fitting end to a stellar year for Schwartz, in many regards. Mayfield beat Schwartz four times this season but each time the SK senior got closer and closer.

In their first meeting, Mayfield won by 10 points, the second he pulled out a 4-point victory. The third was a one-point decision and the final one went to overtime.

“Still, if you look at it, it’s a winning record,” Schwartz said. “It’s an improving record I guess.”

Schwartz seemed to have the fourth match up won, leading 13-7 going into the final two minutes. But some controversial calls and some bad luck ended his season.

“There was a lot of close calls,” South co-coach Chad Nass said. “It was tough, it was tough.”

At one point, Nass disputed a 2-point takedown for Mayfield by whipping out the rulebook and showing the referee he had missed the call. And twice Mayfield was awarded points while driving Schwartz out of the ring, the final one tying the score as time expired.

“It was frustrating,” Nass said. “But like I said to Lenny’s mom, at the beginning of the year, if somebody had told Lenny he would be wrestling for a chance to go to Tacoma, he would be proud of that. And he should be.”

But easy-going Schwartz said he feels fortunate to have just gone through the experience.

“I think it’s really helped me in the way I look at life,” Schwartz said. “I’ve been blessed with so many things.”

Just Friday Schwartz found out that he had been accepted to Indiana University, the third college that has accepted him so far this year. That list also includes the honors program at the University of Hartford and the University of Judaism in California.

“I’ve been blessed, I really have,” Schwartz said. “It just shows that perseverance through school, life, wrestling, everything you do pays off. You have to keep improving.”

So as his high school career ends and the rest of his life begins, Schwartz harbors no ill feelings for those that moved on. In fact, he will most likely be in the stands rooting them on.

“I definitely think this is another story I can tell for the rest of my life,” he said. “I wish everyone at the meet the best of luck.”

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