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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Wrestling and The Clash

I've done a lot of things in wrestling without actually having had a competitive match since 3rd grade. (Long story short: injuries ended my high school career after 6 practices.) This year I'm helping coach the proud but few (7, curently) South Park Burros wrestlers. We're a relatively young and inexperienced team, so my lack of actual wrestling experience hasn't been worth worrying about. I just try to rely on my own observations and my experience with the myriad of head coaches with whom I've worked since high school:

  • Rick Caldwell (currently the head coach of Waverly-Shell Rock, IA...more on them later)

  • Leonard "Butch" Wingett (currently teaching at Clarke Middle School in Osceola, IA...coaching status unknown)

  • Steve Price (currently an assistant coach at Johnston, IA...good to see him coaching again)

  • Don Briggs (still teaching at the University of Northern Iowa when he's not exploring the world)

  • Mark Manning (currently the head coach at the University of Nebraska)

  • Brad Penrith (still UNI's head coach)

  • Bob Masse (still head coach at Florence, CO and last year the Gazette's small school coach of the year)


You can add to that an even larger list of assistant coaches: Pat Norem, Lance Keller, Kurt Chesmore, Joel Greenlee, Alan Fried, Joe Stephens, and Steve Hamilton, to name a few. I've watched many practices and tried to learn something from every one, but one of the best things I learned about wrestling came from Bob Masse at Florence at one of our banquets. He put into words what I've always felt was the best thing about this sport: "Wrestling is family." It doesn't seem to matter how the coaches or wrestlers change, the feeling of family stays the same, and that's why I wanted to get more involved here at South Park.

While we had a free Saturday on our schedule here, I've kept busy keeping up with wrestling news from around the country. Oklahoma State upset Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye, UNI beat #10 Chattanooga on the road, and Waverly-Shell Rock won the Clash, recognized as the high school national duals. The Waterloo Courier's coverage of the Clash has been excellent:

Friday: Prep wrestling's best teams set for weekend 'Clash'
Saturday: Clash duals: Go-Hawks go 3-0, but face true test today
Sunday: Go-Hawks win Clash with nation's best

It's great to see Coach Caldwell and his kids win the closest thing you can get to a national team title. It's been 14 years since Caldwell left Iowa Falls, but I can guarantee his practices are still wicked tough and his wrestlers step on the mat prepared for anything.

While I'd love to head home to UNI next weekend for the National Duals, it looks like I'll be sticking with my coaching duties and heading for Westcliffe. Go Burros!

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