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North Tama establishes new wrestling program

June 7, 2018
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Traer Star-Clipper

With Gladbrook-Reinbeck choosing to not continue their sharing agreement with North Tama for wrestling after 25 years, the Redhawk wrestling program will continue alone with a brand new coach and hope for the future.

The decision came as the North Tama Board of Education approved their sharing agreement with G-R in April despite some Traer community members requesting the Board end the agreement as they believe there were enough numbers to support an independent program alone.

"A group of parents from North Tama proposed the school split from G-R in wrestling, but we as a board decided to keep our contract," Board President Tifffany Feisel said. "I felt this agreement worked for both schools and intially the board at Gladbrook-Reinbeck approved another year. It was decided later that they wished to end the contract."

Article Photos

Noah Weber gets the pin during a meet at Dike-New Hartford.

The North Tama Board during their May meeting approved the creation of a Redhawk wrestling program under the direction of Andrew Knaack, a two-time state qualifier for the school in the early 2000s and a resident of Traer. Knaack would go on to be a two-time national qualifier at Wartburg College and coach at Cornell College, working with 47 All-Americans over his 13 years in Mt. Vernon.

"I'm very excited to be coaching this program," Knaack said. "One of the big reasons I took this position is to bring wrestling back to North Tama and the community. I want people to be excited for meets again and come to support our wrestlers."

While Knaack is already meeting with 20+ wrestlers interested in going out in 2018-19, other areas need to be addressed.

"With North Tama going to having our own wrestling program, we need quite a few things to start the program," Athletic Director Paul Rea said. "We will need new singlets, warmups, and unless we want to maintain the GRNT logo on the wrestling mats, we will need those reconditioned."

Another concern going forward for the Redhawk wrestling program will be to fill weight classes and keep their numbers consistent. Rea believes next season's freshman and sophomore classes will put out "good numbers" for the program, but has concerns when those two classes graduate.

"My hope is that our staff and those that support wrestling in the North Tama community are able to build more interest in the upper elementary and junior high grades to make our program sustainable over time," Rea said.

Despite being able to fill a majority of weight classes right way, Knaack knows things will not be easy for the Redhawks this coming year. That's why he's reached out to his former coaches and the wrestling program at the University of Northern Iowa, hoping they can help out on the mat with the students and provide invaluable advice going forward.

"There are going to be growing pains this first year, no doubt about it," Knaack said. "Still, I want our kids to have a mindset that time work work will bring success to this program. Getting everyone involved will take time, but I'm eager to see what we can do."

Although the decision for a Redhawk wrestling program came out of necessity, it was an unanimous decision by the Board of Education members present, 5-0.

"I'm leery about how this program can continue with low numbers and provide enough opportunity for students, but I want to be positive for our kids," Feisel said.



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