Archive for  February 17th 2018

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DES MOINES, Iowa  —  The list of all the high school wrestling champions since the IHSAA began hosting the tournament in 1926 is long–thirty-four pages long, to be exact.

The 1,940 athletes crowned champion all have one thing in common: the singlet.

“That’s what it has been for such a long time. I don’t really see a point in changing it because there is nothing wrong with the singlets themselves,” said Carlisle wrestler Dez Hammel.

This past May, the National Federation of State High School Associations approved two-piece uniforms. They consist of a compression shirt and smaller, wrestling-specific style shorts.

State tournament wrestler from Des Moines East, Matthew Jordan jumped at the opportunity.  He said, “The two-piece, I feel like I’m just at practice. It’s just more comfortable and I can walk around in it all day. I can’t just walk around in my singlet, I’d look goofy.”

It is still an uphill battle against traditionalists. Steve Bellon from Knoxville said, “My son did, my grandson is here today, and they wear the one-piece, and that’s the way I’d like to see it, the way I grew up watching it.”

Some naysayers took a technical approach.

Hammel said, “The real baggy trunks, I think, could hinder the other person wrestling because they could potentially get a finger caught on it and it makes it harder to grab a leg or do a certain move.”

Tammy Berenguel was busy watching West Des Moines Valley wrestlers and said, “It looks more official. The other uniform looks more difficult to wrestle in, I think.”

Other opinions, like that of ninth grade Ankeny student Sydney Brenning, were a bit more simple. “I prefer the singlet because I think the boys look better in them. I just really base it off of the guys looking good. That’s why I’m here.”

Jordan said it is helping boost turnout for the Scarlets, which is one of the reasons behind the NFHS approving the option in the first place. He said, “They are getting more kids to wrestle at our school because they don’t want to wrestle in singlets, so they feel more comfortable.”

The majority of athletes still choose tradition over trend, but Matthew Jordan admits his successful run to the state tournament run has gained a lot of positive attention.

“If I keep winning and say I make it to a state finals some year and a bunch of kids are looking at me and the younger kids want to make state finals when they are older. They may be looking at the two-piece and think it’s cool, maybe they’ll put one on and try it out,” said Jordan.

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  After several mass shootings, particularly in schools, administrators in Iowa are assessing their school security plans and trying to figure out what they need to change.

Phil Roeder with Des Moines Public Schools said they work closely with the Broward County School District in Florida because they are in the same group called the Council of the Great City Schools. Any time a tragedy like a school shooting happens across the country, it affects everyone in education.

One administrator said school shootings have become a big part of the culture in the United States.

“I think it’s really a shame that we have to even focus on this, and it’s unfortunate but it’s part of our culture now, and it really detracts from the learning and education. Teachers used to have to just worry about reading, writing, and arithmetic, and now they’re worried about protecting their students from bullets,” Iowa School Safety Alliance board member Jane Colacecchi said.

Many schools are already practicing for all types of disasters in central Iowa.

“That involves everything from doing drills with our students and staff. Everything from lock downs, to fires, to tornadoes, to our school resource officers. We have eight Des Moines police officers that work for the school district. We also have our own security staff. We are one of the only school districts in the state of Iowa that has a full-time security staff that monitors safety systems and cameras and things like that,” Roeder said.

Colacecchi said after so many school tragedies, security and preparedness are not enough–the issue goes deeper.

“I think it’s important for schools to look at behavioral threat assessment training as an option. To be able to recognize in their individual students who may pose a threat to the student body,” Colacecchi said.

Roeder said there is only so much law enforcement and schools can do to prevent and prepare for the worst.

“We are not a prison, we’re not, we don’t have lockdown situations where you defend the perimeter of a school grounds and things like that. And that’s why we really need lawmakers at any level, whether it’s the state level or the federal level, to step in and really get serious about gun violence,” Roeder said.

On Thursday, Iowa lawmakers discussed a bill that would require schools to have in depth security plans in place, but the Iowa School Safety Alliance and DMPS said legislation on gun reform also needs to be part of the conversation.

“It brings both law enforcement and emergency management to the table,” Colacecchi said. “So you have the people that are experts in training as well as the people who are experts in planning working together. And it also builds a relationship of responders within the community and helps improve collaboration prior to an emergency happening.”