Trailblazing trio forms first Redhawks girls’ wrestling team
Rausch, Blake, Hochstetler trade volleyball jerseys for singlets
After making it all the way to the state quarterfinals less than three weeks ago, a trio of Redhawk volleyball players has traded their jerseys for singlets as they blaze the trail as the very first North Tama girls wrestling team.
With the sport sanctioned for girls for the first time in Iowa beginning this season, fielding a team was important to head coach Andrew Knaack. And although he had hoped to sign up a few more girls, the trio who stepped up to the mat – senior Jadyn ‘Jade’ Rausch, sophomore Briar Blake, and freshman Addison ‘Addy’ Hochstetler – are certainly looking to be a force to be reckoned with.
“We’re all trying to figure out what this sport is,” Rausch said at the beginning of this past Tuesday’s practice in the high school wrestling room. “Because we’re so competitive. Coming from volleyball, we don’t like to lose. It’s going to be a complete eye-opener.”
While both Rausch and Blake had zero tangible wrestling experience to draw from prior to the first practice on Monday, November 7, Hochstetler wrestled last season on the junior high team.
“It was very, very overwhelming at first,” Rausch said of last week’s practice. “It still is considering we haven’t had our first actual live match. The nerves are obviously still there. You just got to keep in the back of your head that other girls are in the same situation. Just trying the sport is something to be proud of considering how hard it is.”
Experience on the mat aside, all three boast an extensive history of wrestling among the male members of their respective family trees.
Rausch’s dad Josh Rausch and uncle Matt Rausch – who made it to the state tournament in 1995 – both wrestled for North Tama and her cousin Gavin Rausch is part of the boys team currently.
Hochstetler’s cousin Aiden Zook – a fourth-place state champion last season – also wrestled for North Tama, while Blake’s grandfather wrestled for the University of Northern Iowa.
It’s in the blood when it comes to this trailblazing trio for sure which seems to have been the deciding factor for all three when it came to making the decision to join the team.
“My whole family has done it and it’s been in my family for a long time. And so when it became sanctioned it was like a ‘why not?’ type of thing,” Rausch said. “I knew this would be something to enjoy.”
Blake echoed Rausch’s thoughts, adding, “I would have regretted it if I didn’t try it.”
Hochstetler, for her part, was ultimately influenced by Zook.
“It started off as a conversation at Pizza Palace,” Hochstetler said with a laugh. “[They told me] I should just do wrestling. All the boys here were like ‘just do it, just do it’ … But then Aiden [Zook] was like, yeah, you’re going to do it.”
“The boys are really supportive here,” Rausch piped up. “[The team was] very welcoming.”
So do they feel like trailblazers?
“Maybe after our first match [we will],” Rausch answered. “Maybe towards the end of the season, once we see what we just did, what we just went through [we’ll feel like trailblazers].”
“We see a bunch of little girls now at the little open gyms for kids. It is cool to see that they have us to look up to.”
The Redhawks girls wrestling team is set to compete for the first time ever this Thursday evening at the South Tama Invitational where they’ll face wrestlers from 15 area teams including Union and Iowa Valley which both saw a member of their roster crowned a state champion at the Iowa girls state wrestling tournament last year.