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From wrestling to speech, leaving the referendum behind for a bit

My joke the last month or so has gone something like this: I can’t wait for Feb. 8.Why?Because the referendum will be over. One way or another on that morning, we will know if New Hampton is going to build a new middle school or go back to the proverbial drawing board.We have two almost full pages of opinions when it comes to the $19.415 million question, and I need a break from it so I’m going to ramble a little bit on some other happenings here in Chickasaw County this week.But before I do, I will say one thing: Get informed on the issue we as a school community will decide upon next week and get out and vote.•••••The sun came up Sunday morning, although let’s be honest here, it felt a little gloomy around here.The day before, Waverly-Shell Rock won the Northeast Iowa Conference wrestling tournament for a 13th consecutive year.This was supposed to be the year New Hampton snapped that Go-Hawk streak, but while Waverly-Shell Rock wrestled at its best Saturday in Waukon, New Hampton struggled at times.Save for the Battle of Waterloo, New Hampton had won every tournament it had entered this season.Maybe an off day was just in the offing, but for those of us who made the trek to Iowa’s far northeast county on Saturday, the ride home was filled with gloom and doom.But here’s the deal. New Hampton, despite an off day, came within 11.5 points of winning its first conference tournament title since 2004,And here’s the even bigger deal: When it comes to the rest of the season, it doesn’t matter one bit.New Hampton is still one of the favorites to win both the Class 2A state duals and the traditional state tournament.I’ve been around sports long enough to know that “speed bumps” happen in even the best of seasons.And knowing these coaches and these kids, that’s all Saturday was — a speed bump that hurts right now but will re-focus one of the best — if not the best — wrestling teams I’ve covered in 30-plus years in newspapers.•••••A couple of weeks ago, I tweeted a picture of New Hampton’s large-group speech team practicing for its upcoming district competition.“Hats off to kids who get out of comfort zone with activities like speech,” I wrote on Twitter.Well, the Chickasaw speechsters (yeah, I know that’s not a word) are still going strong; in fact, New Hampton is sending a pretty solid contingent of students to Saturday’s state competition that will be held at Dubuque Senior High School:Those bound for state include the following:• The freshman group mime team of Cassie Short and Kate Scott will perform “Sisterhood: Thick and Thin.”• The varsity group mime team of Caitlin Houdek and Emma Glaser will perform "Frankenfriend."• The ensemble acting team of Rachel Grober, Kori Jirak, Quenten Putney and Will Throndson will perform “Pride and Prejudice.”• The ensemble acting team of Savannah Anderson, Hannah Schwickerath, Isabel Leichtman and Sidney Wenzlaff will perform “The Most Massive Woman Wins.”• The ensemble acting team (yes, we’re good at ensemble acting!) of Journey Howe, Brittney White and Emmeline Eike will perform “Scorned.”• Two group improvisation teams — one consisting of Foster Popken, Jeffery Reicks, Glaser and Houdek; the other consisting of Grace Denner, Carver Gage, Nick TeKippe, Cody Deere, Celena Quirk and Collen Mahoney — will perform.• And the musical theatre team of Denner, Danni Priestly, Jeffery Reicks and Sydney Lau will perform “Rent.”That’s a lot of talent and a lot of hard work heading to Dubuque on Saturday, and here’s to another great speech day for New Hampton.•••••I don’t know what it is with Waukon, but I must love shooting photos up there.Last fall, I caught a Waukon wide receiver making one of the best catches I’ve ever seen, and on Saturday, I shot a photo of New Hampton’s Mason Cleveland scoring a takedown a second or two before the cutest towel boy I’ve ever seen told referee Eric Eckerman the period was over.When the little guy came back to his chair, I showed it to him and he smiled a big toothy grin.“Wow, that’s cool.”On a Saturday that proved to be a tough one, I needed that.•••••That’s it. I’m pulling an all-nighter to get work done so that I don’t infect my co-workers with the hacking cough and fever that came on strong Sunday.So Dorothy, Brittany and the rest of the Tribune staff, you’re welcome!To the rest of you, have a good week. 

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