A Model of Consistency

Today, Coe College will host the 2012 IIAC Wrestling Tournament. Will they finally have a chance to win league title?

“It never gets old.”

– Jim Miller, Wartburg College wrestling coach, circa 2003 (credit to LeRoy Gardner III for the quote)

When a team wins, and wins, and keeps winning, there is a fear that each win becomes a “ho-hum, no big deal” type of win.  Fans start to take it for granted, automatically assuming each game, match, or duel, is a win. When that happens, then it doesn’t feel “special” and “fun” for those who follow a team and the athletes themselves.

Don’t tell the Wartburg College wrestling team that it’s no big deal that they have won 158 consecutive IIAC dual meets, six National Duals titles, 8 Division III National Championships since 1996, finished 1st or 2nd in the National Tournament 15 out of the last 17 years, and every wrestler is ranked in the Top 10 in each of their respective weights.

The Knights not only have the IIAC title in sight. A chance to win back-to-back national titles is also on their "to-do" list for 2012.

It is a big deal.  A very special “big deal.”

This morning, at venerable Eby Fieldhouse at Coe College, the Knights are going for their 20th consecutive Iowa Conference wrestling title.

Let me say that again.  Twenty in a row.  The Iowa Hawkeyes won 24 Big Ten titles in a row.

That’s nothing to sneeze at.

And each one is as special as the last one.  That’s why it never gets old when “Milboy’s Army” steps onto the mat.  It’s a model of consistency.  To be the best, you work hard to stay on top and beat your opponents.  From Coe to UW-LaCrosse to rival Augsburg, everyone wants to take the best shot at the Knights.

That is why, in the eyes of Wartburg fans across the world, what the Knights have accomplished in nearly 2 decades is remarkable, amazing, and special.

I just gave you a few reasons on why I think you should watch the tournament tonight on IPTV tonight at 8:30 (tape delay), watch it IPTV online once the tournament concludes, or if you like taking risks, travel to Cedar Rapids and head to Coe to see it for yourselves.

To see a model of consistency right before your eyes.

Advertisements

“Milboy’s Army” Goes for 19 In a Row

Simpson will host the 2011 Iowa Conference Wrestling championships on Friday. Will "Milboy's Army" win their 19th straight title?

Wrestling.

One individual squaring off against another individual.  Your goal is to win your match.  You are not just wrestling for yourself…but for the team as well.

Between the high school wrestling championships and Iowa and ISU battling for the Division I-A championships next month, did you know that a less-publicized conference tournament will take place today?

And that you can watch the championships live on IPTV at 7pm tonight?

Did you know there is a team that has won 150 consecutive conference dual meets and has won 18 straight IIAC championships?

The last time that someone else other than this school has won a conference wrestling tournament title, everyone’s friend Paul Yeager and I were juniors…in high school…in 1992.

If I’m tossing those facts out, then it must be time for the annual Iowa Conference Wrestling Championships.

The quest for 19 in a row will be the goal for the Wartburg Knights starting Friday morning at Simpson College’s Cowles Center.  Coach Jim Miller and his squad (aka “Milboy’s Army”) have dominated the league in a way that is hard to describe.  I don’t think any team will match what they have done since 1993.

Wartburg's Jim Miller knows that the IIAC tournament is no picnic in the park. (Rick Chase/Courier)

Three questions will be answered around 9:30 p.m.  tonight:  

“Will Wartburg win its 19th in a row?”

“How much will they win by?”

“Will the entire team qualify for the national tournament next month?”

If Mother Nature doesn’t put too much of a crimp in the weather, I’ll be at the Cowles today to watch the tournament.  I won’t promise you updates consistently (I don’t want to drain out the battery of my Droid), but I will direct you towards the IIAC website to follow the updates.

I’m sure to see Paul Yeager there.  He’s working the tournament for IPTV today.  I regret to inform you he will not be calling the matches with Dan Gable and Tim Johnson, but if you have a winter hat, keep it on during the tournament.  Paul’s been doing a series of “hat parades” on his blog during this winter season.  You could be profiled in his next post!

What: Iowa Conference Wrestling Championships

Where: Cowles Center at Simpson College, Indianola

Who: teams in the Iowa Conference (Buena Vista, Central, Coe, Cornell, Dubuque, Loras, Luther, Simpson, Wartburg)

Time: 10:30 am; championship round begins at 7:00 pm

At stake: Team championship, and individual champions and runner-ups in each class qualifies for the Division III Wrestling Championships in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.

Small College Football: A Love Story

Everyone knows about Iowa and Iowa State, but have you… (Wartburg Circuit)

It’s hard to believe that we’re 10 days away from the annual Iowa/ISU game.  Around this time every year, everyone starts talking about the Hawks and the Cyclones, planning tailgates, and having big events to celebrate this yearly clash.

I’ve been fortunate to go with my friends to watch Iowa and ISU.  But when I try and encourage them to go see a small college football game, they scoff at the notion, simply because it’s not Iowa or ISU.

…considered watching Central, Coe, and Wartburg this year?

The Iowa Conference is one of the most premier leagues in NCAA Division III and plays the best football in this state.  To be quite honest, sitting in a stadium with 7,000  fans is a little less frightening that being packed like sardines in a 70,585 seat Kinnick Stadium.  Going to a small college game is special and quite foreign for the average big-name Division I-A football fan.

But, as many of you Cyclones and Hawkeyes fans will ask:  why should we care about schools like Wartburg, Coe, and Loras? Here are my reasons that you should experience a small college game.

Luther (blue) vs. Central (white)
  • You could spend up to $100 to nab two tickets to see a game at Kinnick or Jack Trice Stadium.  It’s only $7 a piece to sit in picturesque venues like Carlson Stadium, J. Leslie Rollins Stadium, or The Rock Bowl.
  • Game-day in Iowa City and Ames isn’t the same as it it in Indianola, Waverly, or Mt. Vernon.  I love the smaller atmosphere, intimacy, and the charm that small college athletics offer.
  • Tailgating is smaller and more intimate.  You’re not weaving through a crowd of over 35,000 to get to your tailgate site.  We party and celebrate as much as the big schools do, but you’ll never have to feel crushed in a crowd to have fun.
Coe (white) vs. Cornell (red), the oldest rivalry west of the Mississippi River.

If Iowa and ISU wins 6 games, they get to go to a bowl game.  In the IIAC, whoever wins the conference title is the only one from the league to go to the playoffs.  Nine teams fighting for one spot in the post-season.  No one takes a week off during the season.

In the “Neil Suckow” Bowl in 2006, Wartburg students made up these shirts to poke fun at Coe. Suckow transferred from Coe to Wartburg the previous winter.

Why do I love small college football?  Because it’s not Division I-A, where coaches have to run their programs like CEOs, face the pressure of “win now”, and players don’t leave early for the NFL.  You’ll never see that in Division III, Division II, and NAIA.  Coaches get to coach, the players play for their school and for each other, and fans support it because they believe in small colleges and the value they provide to a community, a student body, and to its alumni.

If writing a 550-word post about this isn’t good enough, well, this video should hopefully do the trick.  This clip represents every school in the Iowa Conference and why it’s special to those who graduated from these member schools.

We’ve Got New (Blog) Neighbors

The blogosphere these days is always a great tool for people to use.  So, when a couple of friends decide to start new blogs, it never hurts to plug them and their blogs.

It’s called giving back to the blog community.

No, It’s Iowa, primarily a sports blog, debuted this past weekend.  Jesse Gavin, formerly of KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids, and fellow Wartburg mate, is an avid sports fan and has covered high school and college teams in Eastern Iowa for Channel 9 until this past spring.  With football season starting in a few weeks, you can expect Jesse to dish out his thoughts, predictions, and breakdown of the football season, especially his beloved Cascade High Cougars.

Carpe DSM is a creation of Lauren Aust.  The Iowa transplant from Kansas City works as an editor for a local publishing company.  She loves fashion, style, and the little things that make fall in love with the great city we call home, Des Moines.

Mind you, Lauren’s Carpe DSM title is slightly different than the most recent new blog, Carpe DM, which is written by Norah Carroll, Kinzie Smith, and their gang.

If you have any free time today, I encourage you to read their blogs and check them out.

No Handballs Allowed

As Jesse Gavin would say, "Be Orange!", like the Dutch! Click to read how these girls became big news at the World Cup.

Today, I have a couple of things to say about the World Cup, but I have some thank yous to hand out, if you don’t mind.

I want to thank Suzanne Hull a.k.a. “The Get-It Done Girl” and the force behind “Unemployed in Des Moines” for linking my blog to her site and forwarding it to her readers and fans.  Suzanne is passionate about how the unemployed are adapting and finding ways to be gainfully employed again here in Des Moines.  A second thank you to Joe Burkland of “The Learning Curve”, who posted a link in the comment section under Friday’s “Do not pass go…” blog entry.

Finally, to all of the readers out there, including you Charlie, thank you for your continued readership!

Soccer has never been a sport that I follow much, but over the past three years, I’ve started to follow the European leagues and international friendlies.  I’ve watched more World Cup matches than I have in the last three World Cups combined (1998, ’02, and ’06).  Does that make me a rabid fan?  No.  It makes me a casual fan who appreciates good futbol and my willingness to learn the nuances of the sport.

Despite USA losing to Ghana, USA did an admirable job and did not embarrass themselves in the way they did in ’98 and France did in this tournament.  Leave to the French to wave the white flag and say “we surrender.” What an utterly pathetic performance and conduct.  While we’re at it, let’s stop the incessant questions of “will USA’s performance help soccer here become big?” Nothing will push the three most watched and played sports in America out of the way (American football, baseball, basketball).  That’s reality that we have to accept, whether it’s a popular thought or not.

Soccer is a “niche” sport, like hockey.  Fans who love the sport will follow it from start to end.  Casual fans, not so much.  It has to take something monumental, like the World Cup, to get the casual fan’s interest.  Trust me, there are fans who don’t like football, baseball, or hoops, so it goes both ways.

Former Argentine great and World Cup coach Diego Maradona (right) with his protege star, Lionel Messi (left).

If there is one thing that casual fans are in total agreement of, and that is the “flopping” in matches.  I understand that using injury time is a strategic tool in buying extra time to score, or if a player is really injured.  Casual fans “hate” it and would like for soccer players to stop making a mockery of the sport. It’s bad enough one sport, basketball, has a cache of “floppers” crumbling to the floor on a ticky-tack foul.  Must there be two sports that has these posers? Die hard soccer fans will disagree with the casual fan and argue what I said earlier about taking advantage of stoppage time.

Anyway, I’m going to continue watching the World Cup.  I had planned on watching even if the U.S. didn’t advance further.  I love watching the thug-like, mobster-suit wearing “Hand of God” extraordinaire Diego Maradona and his Argentina squad, the fast and quick-to-the-ball Ghanians, and of course the orange mob of the Netherlands.  My fellow alumni from Wartburg might have figured out what I have an affection for the Dutch, besides the lovely women at the top of this blog. (Be Orange!)

Until then, my friends, flip on the telly, and enjoy hearing this…