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Colfax school board to decide on wrestling at February meeting

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX —  The Colfax Board of Education is planning to decide at the February meeting whether Colfax should have its own wrestling program or whether to continue in the cooperative program with the Bloomer school district.

William C. Yingst Jr., district administrator, told the school board at the January 15 meeting he had met with Michael Hodel, Colfax athletic director, and John Dachel, Colfax High School principal, to formulate a list of advantages and disadvantages for Colfax having a wrestling program and for the cooperative program with Bloomer.

The list of “pros” and “cons” will give the school board information for making a decision, Yingst said, adding that distributing the information at the January meeting would give board members a month to think about it.

Hodel plans to attend the February 19 meeting to present the options to the school board, Yingst noted.

The deadline for submitting the cooperative agreement with Colfax and Bloomer to the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) is March 31, he said.

Although Yingst said it was up to the school board to decide whether they wanted to make a decision in February or in March, several Board of Education members pointed out that waiting until March might not give the Bloomer school board enough time to take any necessary action before the March 31 deadline.

Numbers game

Colfax currently has five active wrestlers, Yingst said.

“If you don’t have enough wrestlers, you can’t compete against a team (with many more wrestlers),” he said.

According to the information distributed to the school board, the WIAA recommends having at least seven weight classes filled while the Dunn-St. Croix Conference recommends having at least 10 weight classes filled.

When a team does not have enough wrestlers, “there’s a problem filling the 14 weight categories,” Yingst said.

Participating in a cooperative program with Bloomer gives Colfax wrestlers the ability to wrestle with other wrestlers during practice, he said.

“They need to have someone to practice against,” Yingst said.

Officials from the Bloomer school district have indicated they would like Colfax to continue in the cooperative program with Bloomer, he said.

None of the active wrestlers will be graduating from high school this year, and currently, Colfax has eight wrestlers in sixth through eighth grade, Yingst said.

Colfax eighth grade and seventh grade each have two wrestlers, and the sixth grade has four wrestlers, according to the information given to the school board.

Dave Blanchard, who coaches youth wrestling in Colfax, also attended the school board meeting.

Yingst and the Board of Education members were interested to hear Blanchard’s opinion on the subject.

If the program is in Colfax, more Colfax students might be willing to wrestle, Blanchard said.

“Are there any who are not wrestling because (the wrestling program) is not in Colfax?” Yingst asked.

“I do not know,” Blanchard replied.

Colfax school board member Ken Bjork wondered if it would be possible to share practice time with Bloomer in Colfax instead of Colfax always traveling to Bloomer for wrestling practice.

Bloomer High School actually has a wrestling room, noted Todd Kragness, school board president.

Colfax does have brand new wrestling mats purchased for use at Colfax, Yingst said.

“If the program was here, would that speed up growth in Colfax?” Bjork wondered.

“It’s obvious the two schools need each other to continue,” Blanchard said.

“We would all like to see (a wrestling program) in Colfax,” Kragness said.

Pros and cons

Here are the other advantages and disadvantages presented to the Colfax school board for a cooperative wrestling program with Bloomer and for a stand-alone program at Colfax.

Advantages for remaining in a co-op program with Bloomer: multiple high quality coaches; ability to host multiple meets; conference affiliation; opportunity to win a team conference championship; opportunity to win an individual conference championship; costs are split between schools; more of an opportunity to wrestle all 14 possible meets (only seven multi-school meets).

The point about the cooperative wrestling team being able to win a team or individual conference championships is relevant, according to the information provided to the school board, because cooperatives use combined enrollments of all schools to place the team in a division for tournament competition.

The disadvantages for remaining in a cooperative wrestling program with Bloomer are that Colfax students have to travel to Bloomer for practices and for meets and that Colfax only hosts one wrestling meet per year.

The advantages for Colfax maintaining its own wrestling program include no extra travel for practices or meets; Colfax identity; hosting all home meets; and the possibility of more student support.

The disadvantages for Colfax maintaining its own wrestling program are the inability to wrestle other wrestlers, at comparable weights, during practice sessions.

The information given to the school board notes the WIAA allows a team to practice with another team only one time during a season.

Other disadvantages to Colfax maintaining a wrestling program is that the Colfax school district would have the full fiscal responsibility; lack of a quality wrestling room; lack of multiple coaches at practices; lack of conference affiliation; no opportunity for a conference individual championship; not able to wrestle all 14 meets.