The Hamburg wrestling team wrapped up a season of improvements, both on the mat and in the classroom, while competing at Sectionals at Griswold on Saturday.

The Hamburg wrestling team wrapped up a season of improvements, both on the mat and in the classroom, while competing at Sectionals at Griswold on Saturday.

First-year Head Coach Alex Meredith said he enjoyed the season and watching the team improve.
“I had a good group of senior leaders that helped me out a lot and kept the guys in check,” Coach Meredith said. “They improved a lot.”

Win totals weren’t high for the Hamburg team this year, but Coach Meredith said some of the team’s improvements can’t be seen just by looking at a record.

Meredith said he was pleased with the team’s work ethic in the wrestling room and also heard that members of the team were doing well in school.

The second of those notes might even be more important than the first.

Coach Meredith said he received encouragement from people who felt the Hamburg program was teaching more than just skills on the mat. The fact that kids were able to take something learned in wrestling and apply it to the rest of their life, Meredith said, was a high point.

“I am happy that they found that through wrestling,” Coach Meredith said.
While the wrestlers were learning, Meredith was doing likewise. Serving as a head coach, Meredith said, is more complicated than most people might think.

“I never knew how much work was really involved,” Coach Meredith said, noting that he tried to emulate his high school coach, Nick Maher, in developing a philosophy for the job.

Meredith said Maher taught skills that were applicable both in the world of wrestling and in everyday life.

Delivering a coaching philosophy and improving a program is hardly a one-man job, however. To that end, Meredith said he got great help from assistant coaches and the Hamburg community.
Coach Kevin Burge worked as the assistant to Meredith on this year’s team, and Meredith said Burge was a major asset to the program.

“Kevin is a great guy,” Coach Meredith said.

Meredith said Burge brought a great deal of wrestling knowledge to the table and also had a background of working with the Hamburg grapplers and a feel for the area’s history in the sport.
In addition to Burge, Meredith was assisted by his brother Chris.

The two Merediths are only a few years removed from competing side-by-side for the Nebraska City team at the state tournament.

Chris Meredith reached the state tournament finals as a junior.

“It was really cool having him be a part of turning around a program with me,” Alex said.

The younger Meredith was well received by the Hamburg team. Alex said the wrestlers knew what Chris had accomplished as a high school wrestler and respected his opinion.

Student managers got credit as
well. Alex said Drew Rubey and Zane Burge helped immensely as student managers.
Outside of the Wildcat team, Alex said he got a lot of help from parents and support from the Hamburg administration and athletic director.

And, although the season is now officially over, Alex said he is still committed to helping the Hamburg program get better for the future.

Alex said he is working to start a youth wrestling tournament and possibly begin a youth wrestling program for the Wildcats. A plan is also in the works to get the team new singlets for next year.
As for his return, Alex said he doesn’t know if it’s possible, but added that he would like to coach the Hamburg program again next season.

School is the major sticking point.

Alex will wrap up his classroom work at Peru State College in the fall and plans to begin student teaching in the spring. Peru State places students with schools for student teaching.

“There is no guarentee that I would get placed at Hamburg,” Meredith said. “It’s kind of up in the air right now.”