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Davenport high schools to offer girls wrestling

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Tateum Park of Davenport North won a pair of state championships in state competition for girls hosted by the Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association, including this one in 2020. Davenport public schools announced Friday it will have a girls wrestling team next season in the first year the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union sanctions the sport.

A pair of open mat nights — the first scheduled for Sunday — will introduce female wrestlers in the Davenport Community School District to a new girls wrestling program that will be open to students at Davenport Central, North and West high schools during the upcoming school year.

The district announced Friday that it will have a sanctioned girls wrestling team that will compete during the 2022-23 school year in the sport’s first season as a sanctioned sport by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union.

Josh Park has been hired as coach to oversee wrestlers from all three schools as the program begins.

While Park will lead the program, the wrestlers will represent their individual high schools as they compete and will represent their own high schools in post-season tournaments.

A 1998 graduate of Davenport North who participated in wrestling in high school, Park has had two daughters compete for wrestling teams at the high school level in Davenport.

His daughter Tateum wrestled for North while his daughter Sydney competed in the sport for Central. Both competed largely against boys and were part of postseason competition sanctioned by the Iowa High School Athletic Association.

Park welcomes the chance to lead an expanded program for girls from throughout the Davenport district who want to wrestle.

"Wrestling is by far one of the most challenging sports," Park said in a statement. "Wrestling has been thought of as a boys sport. As more and more girls come out to wrestle, they see these greater opportunities to do the sport."

As an introduction to the new Davenport girls wrestling program and its inaugural season, two open mat nights will be held next week for girls entering ninth through 12 grades this fall who are interested in learning more about the sport, the team and the season.

The first is scheduled for Sunday at 4:30 p.m. in the wrestling room at Davenport West High School. The second is scheduled for Wednesday at 4 p.m. in the wrestling room at Davenport North High School.

Female wrestlers from any of the three Davenport public high schools are welcome to attend either of the open mat sessions at either of the two sites.

In addition to starting the high school program, Park is working with volunteers to develop feeder programs for the Davenport high school programs.

A youth wrestling program for girls will begin in mid-September and will utilize facilities at Davenport West while a middle school program for girls is expected to begin in October.

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