Standing right around five feet tall and weighing in at only 113 pounds, Scott Community College (SCC) student Tateum Park may not look very intimidating, but she is a force to be reckoned with.
The concurrently-enrolled Davenport North junior has been making headlines around the wrestling circuit for years, and this January made history by placing first in Iowa’s inaugural girls state wrestling tournament put on by the Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association.
“It was crazy,” Park said of the tournament. “I had never really wrestled girls and then I started seeing a couple on the mat, and then there were more and more, and now the state tournament is here – so seeing it evolve like that is amazing.”
Among the more than 85 girls who competed in the tournament was Park’s little sister Sydney, a freshman who claimed the 126-pound title for Davenport Central. All girls competing on wrestling teams sponsored by the Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) were eligible to compete.
“It was definitely special to do this together,” Park said. “We’ve both wrestled about the same time and with her being the school rival it makes it even more fun, we kind of poke at each other a little more.”
Both girls started wrestling at a young age after watching their older brother try it, competing in state and national events. Park joined Davenport North’s wrestling team as a freshman. Although she’s the only girl currently on the team, she said her teammates have always treated her with respect. But she admits there have been times where boys have refused to wrestle her because they didn’t feel comfortable wrestling a girl.
“It can be frustrating; I think they’re sometimes afraid. It kind of stinks because you just want to be able to wrestle.”
That’s why she’s happy to see more young women get involved in the sport. She hopes this girl’s state tournament is the first of many. She’d love to see girls wrestling eventually become a sanctioned sport in Iowa high schools.
“We took a huge group photo before the event and looking at that photo I can’t believe there are this many girls, plus there were girls missing, so you know there were all these girls plus more, that’s awesome!” she said.
Park’s passion for wrestling not only stems from the enjoyment she gets out of competing, but also the life lessons she’s learning along with it.
“Being out there and seeing all the work you put in, it really helps you build character. You’re constantly having to be mentally and emotionally strong. You also get to meet a ton of new people – the sport just helps with life.”
That work ethic is something she’s also been able to apply to completing college-level courses with SCC, which are a big advantage both academically and athletically.
“It’s exciting doing all of the classes. Dual enrollment is beneficial because it gets those first few years out of the way and helps save money that can be used for wrestling costs. I also feel like I’ll be able to do more of what I want to do by working toward my Associate’s Degree while still in high school.”
Park said she hopes to continue wrestling in college and possibly major in communications, but with one more year of high school left, her focus right now is to continue earning college credit and qualify for both girls and boys state wrestling tournaments next year.
“I definitely want to push hard this off season and during the summer,” she said.
What is concurrent or dual enrollment?
Concurrent or dual enrollment enables high school students to earn college credit leading to Associate’s Degrees, diplomas and certifications. Eastern Iowa Community Colleges and dozens of local high schools have partnered to make it possible. Known as our “College Connections” program, high school students can enroll and complete courses at the high school, one of our campuses or at home via our online classes. Depending on the direction students choose, the credits earned in the College Connections program can go toward a technical career degree or an Associate in Arts degree and ultimately, a four-year Bachelor’s degree.