Iowa High School Team Fighting To Keep Program Alive
In an ideal world every high school across America would field a wrestling team. Every team would have a full lineup, three wrestlers or more deep per weight class. We envision high school wrestling rooms full of young men (and women) eager to participate in our great sport. We focus on and celebrate the biggest and best programs in our state. Yet what about the small programs? What about the schools that don’t field a full line up? What about the schools that only have a handful of wrestlers on the team or less? What challenges do they face and what do they do to overcome these challenges?
Looking for answers, Takedown Wrestle recently spoke with Tri-County of Thornburg (Iowa) head wrestling Coach Scott Edmundson whose Trojan wrestling team fielded just two wrestlers this season.
“There are definitely some disadvantages.” Edmundson answered. “You aren’t going to win any dual meets and tournaments can be long days. You can arrive early in the morning and not have a wrestler competing until 1:30. Then not wrestle again until 4:30.”
“There are a lot of advantages too.” Edmundson replied when asked if there were any pros to having such a small team. “The wrestlers obviously get a lot more one on one attention. It gives the coaches time to focus on their strengths and weaknesses.”
And the hard work paid off. Clay Harper, the Trojans 220 lbs wrestler qualified for the state tournament and Noah McCammant qualified for districts at 285 lbs.
“They were each other’s biggest fans.” Edmundson commented when questioned whether the two formed a bond. “While they had the support of their parents, their focus was on one another. Our practices weren’t long but they went hard pushing one another drilling, working on technique and live wrestling. They lifted together in the mornings and even came in on the weekends to get better.”
“Other schools welcomed us to their practices too.” Edmundson added. “We attended practices at both BGM (Brooklyn-Guensey-Malcom) and Sigourney.”
Edmundson was asked if any teams refused to dual Tri-County because of their small lineup.
“Most teams were pretty good.” Edmundson replied. “Quad meets were a big help. We were able to make it work time wise by running it more like a triangular meet and starting at the 220 lbs weight class.”
The tough questions had to be asked. With such a small team, did anyone at Tri-County question whether the school should have a wrestling program or not?
“The question came up.” Edmundson answered. “Yet our only real expense was travel and entry fees to tournaments. We already had mats, singlets and warmups, so that wasn’t a cost. With two wrestlers, and three cheerleaders, we didn’t need to hire a bus driver. We used a suburban, so that help cut cost as well. We hosted our own tournament and sold concessions and t-shirts, so the team was self-sustaining.”
“We are going to have to look at the numbers and evaluate interests in the future.” Edmundson continued. “Yet wrestling provided those five kids (two wrestlers and three cheerleaders) something positive to do after school, something positive to be a part of. This was also Clay’s senior year, and the school board decided to give us the opportunity to continue the season.”
Like many small programs across the United States, Tri-County wrestling continues to fight to stay alive and provide students at the school an opportunity to be a part of our great sport. Regardless of whether a wrestling team fields 30 wrestlers or two wrestlers, as Coach Edmundson said, it provides kids with something positive to be a part of.