When you make history, you get recognized.
For leading the Spartans to their first state title, Solon head coach Blake Williams has been named the Des Moines Register’s All-Iowa Wrestling Coach of the Year. He will be honored at the Des Moines Register Sports Awards in June.
“There’s tons of outstanding high school wrestling coaches out there, and just to be even considered for something like this is quite an honor,” Williams said. “It shows nothing specifically about what I’m doing; it’s a reflection on our kids and the program in general.
“A big reason for our success has been our entire coaching staff, as well as parental support. A big thanks to our school, the administration and the community for following and supporting us all year.”
The town of Solon adores its high school teams. There’s a giant, orange and black Spartan logo on the water tower. Solon Fire Department sprayed a water archway for the team bus to travel through on Highway 1 when it first came home from Des Moines. Then Williams and his guys immediately went to the high school, where community members packed the gym to celebrate.
Now, a few weeks later, Williams said he still gets stopped at the grocery store — and even at his son’s third-grade vocal concert — to get congratulated.
“Solon’s got a lot of state titles in numerous sports, but wrestling’s one that had not gotten there yet,” he said. “So it is a great feeling to add to the legacy of athletics in Solon.”
The Spartans finished the regular season ranked second in Class 2A, with a staggering seven wrestlers ranked at their respective weights. They sent a program record eight kids to the state meet; that was also tied for most in the state. And they edged No. 1 New Hampton by a half a point to win it all.
Senior Graeson Dall wasn’t at all surprised when he learned Williams won this award.
“I didn’t have any doubt in my mind,” he said.
Dall said coming to practice with Williams has been an absolute joy.
“It’s one big family,” he said. “It really has been. Even though he’s only been here two years, that doesn’t mean a thing. We’re still a big family. We all get along just like brothers and he’s kind of like a dad to all of us.”
Matthew Bain covers preps, recruiting and the Hawkeyes for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.