That’s one of the things the 37-year-old enjoys about arm wrestling.
“Besides all the people you meet, I like that it’s all you,” said Telle, a Napa native.
“You’re on your own. The only person to blame is yourself.”
Telle was one of about 90 participants in the Arm Wrestling Championship on Saturday, June 2 at the Patterson Apricot Fiesta.
The competition table was set up on a stage in front of an audience of locals, tourists and curiosity seekers spanning four levels of bleachers. A bucket of chalk was off to one side for drying sweaty hands and providing a stronger grip.
Once at the table, competitors shook hands — opposite to the side they would be wrestling with — and locked up with the help of two referees. If their grips slipped, the pair was strapped together to finish the match. The competition included double elimination in each category.
Telle, who placed first in the right-handed 233-pound-and-over amateur division, said he was pleased to be a part of the action Saturday. He got involved in the sport at the bidding of tournament chairman Bill Collins, who was the announcer during the afternoon event.
“Bill’s a straightforward guy who cares about the integrity of the sport,” Telle said after competing.
Contestants — some originally from the West Side and others from as far as Louisiana — competed in open, amateur, right-left and five weight divisions.
Bruised egos were common among the wrist grapplers taking part Saturday. Though the event’s winners received only a small cash prize or a commemorative plaque, Super Bowl defeats have been accepted more gracefully.
Losers slammed fists onto tables, cut loose with profanity or returned to their seats with heads slumped to chests.
Collins, who runs arm wrestling tournaments across the country, said the fiesta contest was an eye-opener for many of the less experienced entrants.
“A lot of these guys have always won when they arm wrestle with their friends at parties,” Collins said. “But they are surprised by how good some of these guys are.”
Vazgen Soghoyan, a Los Angeles resident, was the big winner Saturday, placing first in two weight classes. He took the men’s right-handed open competition for competitors weighing no more than 154 pounds and also the men’s 155-to-175-pound right-handed open competition.
Other men’s open winners were Ryan Dawes (up to 175, left handed), Eric Woefel (176-and-over, left handed), Brian Brandon (200 to 230, right handed) and Herman Stevens (176 to 200, right handed).
Tournament chairwoman Judy Dodd, a local favorite, claimed the women’s open title.
Amateur competitors garnering first-place victories included Alex Coleman, zero to 154 pounds; Kyle Fitzpatrick, 155 to 175; Brian Keena, 176 to 200; Andy Freeland, 201 and heavier; Coleman, left-handed, zero to 175; and Eric Martinez, left-handed, 176 and heavier.
No longer simply a barroom pastime, arm wrestling has several national associations for amateurs and professionals.
Despite the obvious emphasis on strength, a number of competitors stressed the psychological aspects of arm wrestling.
“Physically, when you’re in the gym you have to have specific workouts for the sport,” Soghoyan said. “Mentally, you have to be on the table all the time.”