A northern California sportswriter plumbs the depths of high-school wrestling in Iowa.
The struggle to win a prized spot in the State Tournament held each February in desolate, rural Iowa, home of ’70s wrestling legend Dan Gable, is agonizing. The tough, resilient teenaged boys who want a crack at a win in one of three wrestling classifications must train diligently and rigorously. Kreidler captures the essence of two competitive young Iowans seeking the coveted title of four-time state champ. Jay Borschel, Linn-Mar high school’s most feared wrestler in his weight class, won his first title as a 103-pound freshman, and now, at a beefed-up 171 pounds, is attempting to win four in a row. His best friend, Dan LeClere of North-Linn high school, the product of a hardworking farming family with a history of depression, is attempting to do the same in the lightweight division. Guided by their fathers (both wrestling coaches and hardcore devotees of the sport), the young men must adhere to an unforgiving training schedule and dietary restrictions the author calls both “excessive and wildly unreasonable.” As the clock ticks down, the athletes work to overcome the hurdles of illness, stress and overexertion. Kreidler highlights the human aspects of his subjects and gives family members a voice.
All the guts and glory of high-school wrestling conveyed with sports-page panache.