Information about a potential school-sanctioned wrestling program highlighted discussion at the regular monthly meeting of the Herreid School Board on April 12.
During the open forum portion of the meeting, Melissa Weisbeck gave a recap of the past wrestling season and her thoughts, from the perspective of a wrestling parent, about the future of the program.
“First of all, I want to thank the board for everything you have done for the program, and also thanks to CEO Lance Vander Vorst for your help,” Weisbeck said.
There were 27 kids that participated in the Wolverines Wrestling Club this year. The regional wrestling tournament was held recently, and the top four participants in each weight class qualified to compete in the state meet.
“Nine of our wrestlers qualified to compete at the state meet, and seven of those placed,” Weisbeck said. “In addition, one of our wrestlers was asked to compete at a national meet that was held in Iowa, and he took second place there.”
Looking ahead, Weisbeck said she would like to see wrestling “locked in” as a sports program in the Herreid district. The South Dakota High School Activities Association recognizes stand-alone programs and sports co-ops, such as the Wolverines Sports Co-op for basketball, volleyball, football and track. In addition, and just for wrestling, SDHSAA recognizes a “practice co-op.”
In a practice co-op, students from one district practice together with students from another district. However, during meets, the students represent their own district. In addition, SDHSAA stipulates that there should be no more than five wrestlers from a district that would participate in a practice co-op with another district and that the practice co-op cannot be with school districts outside the state.
Weisbeck noted the strong support and assistance they have received from South Border (Ashley and Wishek, North Dakota).
“That would have been a good option for a practice co-op, but it won’t work under North Dakota High School Activities Association regulations,” she stated. “It would be nice to have just a Herreid team for wrestling.”
She suggested students from other districts could also participate if they wanted to.
Weisbck admitted she has developed a passion for the sport, something she would have never thought possible just two years ago.
“There are a lot of positive benefits as the individuals compete and accomplish things on their own,” she said. “There is also a bonding among the wrestlers and new friendships that are made.”
In response to a question about uniforms, Weisbeck said several wrestlers have outgrown their uniforms and they would probably need new ones. She added the club would be willing to continue to do fundraisers to help with costs for a new program.
“We have all of the equipment that would be needed for the program,” she added.
At the conclusion of her comments Board President Josh Sayler thanked Weisbeck for coming in and visiting with the board.
Later in the meeting, Vander Vorst told the board he had visited with the four closest surrounding districts that have wrestling programs about the possibility of either a full co-op or a practice co-op. He said two of the districts (Bowdle and South Border) were not overly interested, although for very different reasons.
Bowdle currently is in a wrestling co-op but only has one student who participates, and there is not much interest from the younger students.
South Border has an exceptionally strong program that routinely challenges for state titles in North Dakota. They have a full roster of wrestlers for all weight classes. One of the representatives from South Border said that, because of the number of wrestlers they have and the competitive nature of their program, and with the distance from Herreid to Ashley and/or Wishek, it would be discouraging to the Herreid wrestlers as they may only practice, but have very little chance to compete in a meet.
Vander Vorst had also visited with representatives from Mobridge-Pollock and the Linton-Hazeltton-Moffit-Braddock (North Dakota) co-op. Both of those conversations were very productive. He said the discussions with MP were more about a practice co-op, including how that could work and the benefits for both school districts. The discussions with LHMB were about a full co-op, and one of their representatives said they were very serious about the discussions and would be willing to work with Herreid to make a full co-op successful.
Vander Vorst said he plans to visit with a representative from SDHSAA about the student limit regarding a practice co-op. Preliminary estimates showed about eight students in Herreid would be interested in a 7-12 wrestling program. He said the SDHSAA board of directors has sometimes granted waivers to help get new sports programs established.
The school board did not take any action after receiving all of the information.