Lake Mills, Forest City, Central Springs, Saint Ansgar, and Northwood-Kennett will come together to form the first girls wrestling program for their schools – please welcome, the North Central Trailblazers.
January 22, 2022, will forever be a date to celebrate a victory for female athletes in Iowa. It was on that date the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union announced sanctioned girls’ wrestling was coming to Iowa, making it the 11th sport the IGHSAU has officially sanctioned.
“We think there’s a great foundation in place for the success of this sport, and we intend to fully support these Iowa Girls as they continue their pursuit of championships,” said IGHSAU Executive Director Jean Berger. Berger and the IGHSAU announced the sanction before the start of the IWCOA Girls State Wrestling Tournament championship round. The IWCOA had previously put on a girls’ state tournament to give female wrestlers in Iowa a chance to wrestle for titles. Girls were able to wrestle in the state before this year but wrestled as part of the boys’ team and competed against the male competition. “As the sanctioning process unfolded, the Board was able to quickly approve this new opportunity for our girls and schools across the state. The increase in participation, the growth in youth wrestling, and the willingness of our schools to commit to the sport all factored into this decision”, Berger also stated.
Now, because of that day in January, the previously mentioned five schools have come together to create these schools’ first-ever girls wrestling program, “As soon as it was sanctioned, we started preparing to do something,” said Lake Mills activities director Jim Boehmer. Boehmer also serves as a member of the IGHSAU Board of Directors, who ultimately decided to sanction wrestling, “As long as you offer a boys sports, you need to give the girls the same opportunity. There was no question of if we would have a program, it was how will we do it,” said Boehmer.
Boehmer started talking with Jordan Reindl, activities director and boys wrestling coach at Northwood-Kensett, and from there, more schools got pulled in to create the five-district program. Northwood-Kensett will be the ‘host’ school. “I had a strong passion for starting up a girls’ program,” said Reindl. He continued by stating, “I enjoy the team aspect of wrestling, and I didn’t want to guess on numbers, so we came up with the idea (of the North Central Trailblazers).”
By definition, Trailblazers fits perfectly for this new program. These girls will be pioneers in this new era of female sports in Iowa and, more importantly, blazing a trail for their respective schools and the thousands of girls over the next multiple decades that will come after them. “We’re breaking ground; let’s give these girls something to take ownership in and feel good about,” Boehmer said. This will be a unique opportunity for these girls as this program is likely temporary. “I talked to the girls we had on our boys’ team last year – they’re doing something special here,” Reindl said. With how fast girls’ wrestling is exploding throughout the state, the hope is that each one of these schools will eventually have a self-sufficient program. Though, Reindle says that is the hope, but says that this program will likely stay together or at least partially together until girls wrestling breaks into classes like every other sport. “That will be the end game, but I think this is how it will look for the forcible future.” At this time, unlike other sports that consist of classes such as 1A, 2A, etc., all girls wrestling programs will compete as one class.
The colors for this new program will be orange and black because orange isn’t a color of any school’s part of the program. The girls will practice in Northwood; Northwood-Kensett recently added a new wrestling room to their school with two whole areas. One of the areas will be where the Northwood-Kensett boys will practice, and the other is where the North Central girls will practice.
Both Reindl and Boehmer agree that girls’ wrestling will evolve each and every year, so how things look this year might be different five years from now or even next year. But for this initial year, the following schedule of events will be followed:
- October 29th Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Convention (Des Moines)
- October 31st, First Practice Date
- November 7th Last Date to Declare/Dismiss Cooperative Sharing
- November 14th, First Competition Date
- December 12th 2 lb allowance begins for those who qualify
- 24-Jan. 1st Winter Break, no competition allowed
- January 4th Super Regional Assignments Released
- January 27th Super Regional Qualifying Meets, TBD
- February 2nd-3rd State Tournament, Coralville
The weight classes will be:
100, 105, 110, 115, 120, 125, 130, 135, 140, 145, 155, 170, 190, 235
Of course, a big question is being asked. How will adding a new program affect the current female offerings for these schools? Reindl says the positive impacts will have a more significant effect than any possible negative, “the girls I have signed up, I would say 95 percent of them didn’t play basketball in last year’s season. This will get more kids in our hallways out for sports, rather than take from other programs which can only help a school”, Reindle said.
The Top of Iowa Conference will not crown a girls’ champion in this initial year, nor will there be a conference tournament for this first year. “We’re hoping more teams get involved, and even if it is a dual tournament or some sort of a conference tournament moving forward, but we have to see how the numbers look in this first year,” said Reindle.
MEET THE COACH.
Terry Lowe will coach the team. Terry currently works in the Saint Angar school district as the director of nutritional services. “He had excitement to do it,” said Boehmer. “He’s coached wrestling in the past, and this is a new venture, and I guess he wanted to be a Trailblazer as well, so our program is a natural fit,” continued Boehmer. The assistant coach will be Lake Mills Spanish teacher Alissa Dean, whose daughter is interested in wrestling and she wanted to help encourage it, said Boehmer. “I’m so happy that she stepped up, and to have her do that is great. She’ll learn as she goes, and to have another person on staff will help.”
Boehmer hopes girls will try it, and if it’s not for them, they won’t be forced to continue, “They might try it and find out it’s not for them, and I understand. You can’t criticize these girls for trying something new; it’s not them quitting; they’re just not continuing something new they tried”.
Wrestling is a tradition in some North Iowa families, and in years past, female members of families would become managers and cheerleaders and even play basketball. But now, they will also have an opportunity to keep family names alive in the sport. “I have girls that have wanted to do this; it’s been on their mind because they grew up around the sport. Four of our girls, their older brothers, wrestled, so it’s in their blood”, said Boehmer. Reindle agreed, “I can think of a few names off the top of my head that have the wrestling last name, and for a long time, they either played basketball or were a manager to stay connected to the sport. We’re giving those girls an opportunity who have gone to tournaments with a brother or their dads wrestled – now they’ll be able to carry on that torch”.
Right now, Boehmer says the program has roughly 30 girls committed to the program, with girls from each of the five schools. Though, they will have an informational meeting on Thursday, October 20th. If girls are interested, they should contact their school for information.
“Younger girls are going to look up to these girls, and they’re paving the path – being the ‘Trailblazers.’ Girls can do this, and girls can be super successful in wrestling. They can come out and get the same benefits the boys get from the sport. It teaches life lessons that no other sports really teaches, and now the girls have the opportunity to experience that and grow – I’m super excited about it”, Reindle said.
The team’s schedule will come out at a later time. KIOW and its Coloff Media partners are the streaming home for all five schools who make up this program. Once a schedule is announced, Coloff Media will announce any dates that girls’ meets will be live-streamed.