Cedar Rapids Prairie Coach Blake Williams grew up playing multiple sports as a youth and prep at Decorah. Williams turned a decent high school career at Decorah into an All-American career for Wartburg, contributing to the Knights’ 1996 NCAA Division III national team title.
Williams wrestled, played baseball and went out for football a couple years as a Vikings athlete. His father, Roger, who coached him as a prep wrestler, coached freshman football and junior high track. What seemed to be an overwhelming theme was diversification when it came to athletics instead of concentrating on a single endeavor. Decorah has had its share of multi-sport athletes who have excelled on the mat. Williams added Howard Fullhart to names like Ryan and Randy Fulsaas and Taylor Mansfield.
It’s not surprising that Williams encourages athletes to be active in other sports.
In six years, Williams has led the Hawks to four state duals appearances, guiding them to a runner-up finish in 2006. His teams have consisted of versatile athletes, including the more than 20 state medalists.
Wrestlers like Robbie Kramer, Mickey Sprague and Cal Beatty earned state medals while earning honors in other sports. Kramer was a standout football player, Sprague played football and ran track and Beatty Played football and soccer. Sprague is one of Williams’ three state finalists, including Zach Witte in 2009 and 2006 Class 3A 140-pound champion Phil Sexton.
His approach seems to work and he addresses the benefits of competition away from wrestling.
Williams is not naive. He understands wrestlers need mat time to be able to excel in the winter months of the varsity season. Here are his thoughts on balancing the demands of offseason wrestling while participating in other sports.
All-American, Baseball, Blake Williams, Cal Beatty, career, Cedar Rapids Prairie, Decorah, encourage, Football, Hawks, High school, Howard Fullhart, Knights, medals, Mickey Sprague, multi-sport athlete, multiple sports, national title, NCAA Division III, participation, Phil Sexton, prep, Randy Fulsaas, Robbie Kramer, Roger Williams, Ryan Fulsaas, Soccer, state champion, Taylor Mansfield, TRack, Vikings, Wartburg, Wrestling, youth, Zach Witte