Linn-Mar’s Engels pulls double duty on the mat

Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 7:13 PM CST
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MARION, Iowa (KCRG) - This winter marks Talia Engels’ second season as a wrestling cheerleader.

“Ever since I’ve been little, I’ve wanted to cheer. My mom kind of got me into gymnastics and tumbling basically since I could walk,” she explained.

The sophomore is hitting more than one mat this year. She’s also wrestling for Linn-Mar’s girls team in its first season as a sanctioned high school sport.

“In eighth grade, I had managed wrestling. I managed for middle school and then last year, I obviously cheered. Then, one of my close friends does wrestling as well. She talked me into doing wrestling with her,” Engels said.

Because the two are in the same season, some nights during the week, she’ll run from one practice to another. Her two coaches help her make it work.

“She was great about communication early on,” Linn-Mar girls wrestling head coach Mike Geers said. “I’ve worked with Erin [Taylor] a long time too, her other coach. If Erin was willing to work on it, I was willing to work on it and do whatever it takes to make it work. She wants to come in and work hard and work hard at cheer too.”

“I don’t think I know anyone else that can do two sports in the same season at once, so my coaches are really amazing,” Engels added.

On dual nights, Engels pulls double duty wrestling and cheering. That often means wearing both uniforms at the same time.

“I’ll have my cheer uniform over my singlet and then I’ll change quick and run out there. The after I’m done, I’ll change back into by uniform for cheer,” she explained.

It was a challenge at first for Engels, but it’s now become routine. It’s one that she’s enjoyed as she learns more about the sport of wrestling.

“Mostly just like basics and translating them from practice to matches has been a lot,” she said. “You wouldn’t think it’s that hard because once you’ve done a move in practice, you should be able to do it on the mat, but it’s just the pressure.”

For Geers, who has coached middle school and high school wrestling at Linn-Mar for more than two decades, he hopes to extend the Lions tradition to the girls’ side.

“We always preach about how great wrestling is and what it’s done for all the wrestlers throughout their life. Why wouldn’t we want that for our daughters too? Working with the girls in the program I already had, I wanted to keep going with them and see what we can do when we have our own sanctioned season. See how they can progress,” Geers said.