Down and dirty: Dirty Bird Wrestling Club spreads its wings

 The Dirty Bird Wrestling Club (pictured above), made up of members from the Aplington-Parkersburg and Grundy Center areas, is enjoying a hugely successful season under the leadership of head coach Calley Kruger and president Brian Benning. At its most recent tournament in Hampton, the Birds took first place as a team. (Photos courtesy of Brian Jorgenson) 

Wrestling isn’t the easiest or most glamorous sport in the world, and in recent years, smaller schools have been struggling to attract the numbers to even put together a full team. But there are signs of hope, perhaps nowhere more encouraging than right here in Aplington and Parkersburg: the Dirty Bird Wrestling Club is having its best year yet, with a host of first place trophies and participation numbers through the roof.


“We’re gaining a lot of respect through organization, quality of kids and respect for kids,” organizer Brian Jorgenson said. “The Dirty Birds are definitely making a positive name for themselves around the local tournaments.”


On the first night of practice, 105 kids between preschool and junior high showed up, and the number is still hovering around 85. The program was revived six or seven years ago, and it’s reached new heights in the last few: it’s now open to both A-P and Grundy Center students as the two schools are sharing a high school squad.


Club president and A-P head varsity coach Brian Benning went through all of the steps to make the Dirty Birds a tax-exempt organization, and he envisions it as more than just an athletic group. Randy Wildeboer, a 19-year-old deployed soldier from Bristow, surprised his sister and cousin Kaden Coop of Aplington at a recent tournament in Dike with a classic homecoming moment, and the group has donated to a foundation started in memory of Logan Luft, a Charles City youngster who was tragically killed in an ATV accident last summer.


“There’s a whole group of parents right now pushing the right things, as far as keeping things in perspective,” Benning said. “It’s not just winning wrestling matches.” 


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