Monday, September 15, 2008

Fallen 'Horn -- A My Town Monday Post

Due to some tragic news I've shifted away from my planned My Town Monday post, but hopefully next week I'll be discussing Amarillo's role in one of the world's great mysteries.

Caprock High School sits on the southeast side of Amarillo. Truth be told it doesn't have a great reputation in the city. The district is made up primarily of lower middle class families with a majority of students having a Hispanic heritage. The football team is rarely good and in these parts, what happens on the gridiron far overshadows all other sports. Though to be honest the Caprock Longhorns do not fare much better any most other sports either. That one exception is and always has been wrestling.

The school has won countless state title both in the overall team and individuals. I graduated from Caprock in 1991 and in those days wrestling was only a boys sport, but in recent years girls wrestling has been added and the females have joined in and only added to the school's tradition of excellence in the sport. Matter of fact the school has won the last five state team championships in the girls division.

But I'm going to step back in time to my sophomore year when the school had an individual state champion. That wrestler was a junior and he was one year older than me. If I remember right he finished second in state his senior year, but it was what he did after high school that endured him to many and propelled his name to the top of fight circles.

In 1997 some of Evan Tanner's friends talked him into fight in in a local Mixed Martial Arts Tournament. Tanner won the tournament by defeating three different fighter that night including fellow Caprock Alum and future UFC Heavyweight contender Paul Buentello.

With that success in his resume Tanner began to study grappling and martial arts in a more serious manner. In 1998 he traveled to Japan and at Tokyo became the first American to ever win the Pancrase Neo-Blood tournament.

With his reputation established Evan Tanner headed to the premiers organization in mixed martial arts. The UFC --Ultimate Fighting Championships.

He had many success in his fighting career posting a record of 32 wins and only 8 losses. On February 5th, 2005 he won the UFC Middleweight Championship.

On September 3rd, 2008 Evan rode his dirt bike in to the California desert near Brawley, California. What happened after that differs. Some reports say he ran out of gas and others simply say he was hiking to a spring to refill his canteen. Either way, the heat and exhaustion of hiking in 118 degree temperature, led to his death. His body was spotted by helicopter on September 8th. Heat exposure is listed as the preliminary cause of his death. A sad end to a dang tough champions life.
Here is a video tribute to Tanner that I found on You Tube.

I didn't know Evan, but we gave from the same side of town. I saw him wrestle on his way to a state title. I saw his very first fights as a professional an we walked the same halls as kids. Caprock High School may not have the best reputation, but for those who wore orange and were proud to call themselves Longhorns will all remember Evan and take a bit of hope out of the fact life is what you make out of it, not where you happen to come from.

The above shot was taken by my friend Steve Austin. The words Longhorn country are from the top of the Caprock High gym as see from a golf course just across the street. A field with actual longhorn cattle sits between the two.

Posts from other MY TOWN MONDAYERS

Linda McLaughlin -- Like me, Linda offers up a tragic post. This one from Chatsworth, California.
Debra -- The sweet music of Peninsula, Ohio
Lyzzydee -- Gives us a historical look at Amsterdam.
Barbara Martin -- Teaches us about heroes from Toronto, Canada.
Clair Dickson -- The end of Eminem's road in Livingston County, Michigan
Barrie Summy -- A meaty post from rural Oklahoma.
Reb -- Road tripping in Alberta, Canada
Clare2E -- A haunting look at New Haven, Connecticut.
PreTzel -- Looking for a spooky thrill in small town Iowa.
Patti Abbott -- The other end of Detroit, Michigan's 8 Mile Road.
Gerri Russell -- Vacationing in Scotland
Mary Nix -- Plots out Olmsted Falls, Ohio's location.
David Cranmer -- A bit of language fun from West Africa
Patricia Wood -- Gets sharky with editing from Hawaii.
Junosmom -- Escape the glitz and glamor and get away in Kentucky


Lana Gramlich said...

I'm so sorry to hear this. How terribly sad!

debra said...

I am also sorry to hear of this, Travis. My post is up.

Amy said...

I'm with you on being proud of a Caprock "legend." I didn't know Evan either, I vaguely remember him but I've followed his career over the last few years and I'm saddended by his death. You did a nice job writing about him. Maybe you'll be the next Caprock "legend" and we'll all be reading your books!! Hope all is well with you and your family. Amy

pattinase (abbott) said...

Travis-So sorry for this tragic story. My post will be up tomorrow but today with the death of your friend and David Foster Wallace, it's a bleak day.

Vodka Mom said...

that was very, very sad. Everywhere we turn, tragedy awaits. I am so sorry for his friends and family. I am happy that he led such a full and fulfilling life.

lyzzydee said...

Travis, I am so sorry to hear of your loss, thinking of you.

I have poste

Amy said...

Thanks for leaving a commment on my blog. I do check your blog out occasionally. You have quite the following! I'm impressed and your writing is very good and funny. Good luck to you!!! Amy

Joshua said...

He was a great fighter and from I hear a great guy. I loved watching him fight. He will be missed.

Terrie Farley Moran said...


How tragic. Prayers for him and many blessings to help his family.


Barbara Martin said...

Travis, my MTM will be up by the morning, a continuation of James FitzGibbon.

Charles Gramlich said...

Yes, very sad. But he truly lived during his years it sounds like. He did things others only dream of.

Ello said...

That's very sad. What a terrible thing for him to have suffered. And his poor family and friends.

Clair Dickson said...

Sorry to hear of this Travis. This sort of thing shouldn't happen to anyone.

My MTM is up.

Barrie said...

Travis,how tragic. I'm sorry.
(My post is up. Rural Oklahoma, this week)

Reb said...

What a tragedy to lose someone so young. It sounds as though he was living his dream.

Love the photo of the cow!

I have a road trip Monday up, if you are interested.

Bubblewench said...

Sorry to hear that! Sad...

Nice tribute post.

preTzel said...

How tragic. :( Great read Travis. You did this so well.

My post is up. We're going to a haunted house this week.

Lindy said...

so tragic!

pattinase (abbott) said...

The beginning of 8 Mile Road in Detroit.

Clare2e said...

Well, dang, Travis. So young, but it's inspiring to read how he grabbed life by the long horns.

Junosmom said...

Thank you, Travis, for listing me. I am currently without power and GASP - INTERNET!!! You ask how I post? I have a key to my neighbor's house and she isn't home. I'm on her computer. Actually, she invited me to use it in her absence but stealth sounds a little more exciting. Luckily, I wrote my MTM post before we were blessed with those Texas sized winds. Our biggest loss is that our roof is kaput. I hope to keep posting if I can find a Starbucks or something open.

Linda McLaughlin said...

A tragic death, indeed, Travis. The desert can be unforgiving in summer.


SUV Mama said...

Awww, T. I'm sorry to hear of this.

Ms. Ed said...


I watched the video a few times in a row and thought about the California dry heat in which I was raised. Beautiful writing, memorable vision, painful ending. I'm sorry.