COLUMN: A dream come true for father, son

Photos are memories that can last forever, long after the lights have dimmed and the uniforms have been boxed.

Do they speak a thousand words as we’ve all heard? Sometimes, yes, they do.

The image of Ted and Connor Larson – father and son – embracing at Saturday’s Class 3A district wrestling meet in Fort Dodge was perfection. No, I’m not talking about the actual photo I captured – I could nitpick it to death, from the composition to the light and so on – but the act itself … it’s why I do this job.

This wasn’t just a coach and wrestler celebrating a trip to the state tournament. Ted Larson has done that many times before; this was more, whether he wants to admit it publicly or not.

Connor’s dream has always been to hear his name called to one of the eight mats inside Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. If you’re a father then you’ll understand this: because it was Connor’s dream, it was Ted’s dream too.

And now they get to share it together.

Seriously, can it be more perfect than that?

From the time that Connor – ranked third in the state – heard the referee slap the mat, signaling the end of his 160-pound championship bout against No. 5-ranked Andrew Bartel of Mason City, it took only seconds for him to race into his father’s arms.

“That was amazing … I really don’t know what to say,” Connor said of the embrace. “My dad might have been happier than me, I don’t know.”

The Larsons had plenty of reasons to feel like the weight of the world had been lifted off their shoulders. Connor was a solid pick to make the state tournament a year ago, but a ruptured eardrum in the days leading up to districts left him at less than 100 percent.

And so they waited.

Now they wait no more.

“To get that monkey off his back, that’s awesome,” Ted Larson said. “He had a target on his back coming in here (to districts) with those stinkin’ rankings, but now he can go down to state and let it all hang out.”

Now father and son will sit down, if they haven’t already, and discuss new dreams. Qualifying for state is peachy keen, but they both hope there’s more to this story.

A state medal is what they both want now, so Thursday afternoon they’ll race out of the warm-up room side-by-side and try to add one more chapter.

And they’ll do it together.