City OKs first Iron Tiger 5K Run for wrestling team

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/CHS
The Clewiston High School wrestling team members are: front row from left — Tomas Pacheco (120 lb., sophomore), Juan Luna (132 lb., junior), Hisham Ramadan (152 lb., sophomore), Izac Martinez (160 lb., sophomore), Wisam Ramadan (195 lb., junior) and Jabrian Davis (220 lb., freshman); back row — Isabel Rodriguez (senior, team manager), and coaches Renaldy Tapia, Quinn Miller and Michael Sparks.

CLEWISTON — Clewiston High School wrestling coach Quinn Miller requested and received approval from the City Commission on Monday, Jan. 7, to host the inaugural Iron Tiger 5K Run.

This event, which will be staged beginning at the First United Methodist Church at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2, is a fundraiser for the Clewiston High School Tigers wrestling team. The application from coach Miller says he is anticipating 50 to 100 runners to participate in this 5K race through the city, and requested the closure of streets along the route.

Interim City Manager Shari Howell told commissioners Monday night, though, that the footrace will not actually result in the closing of any streets. The CHS fundraiser request was considered as part of the council’s consent agenda along with the Hendry County Fair, which takes place Feb. 12-17 downtown. “We ask that you consider approving these contingent on fire safety permit application approval by the fire marshal. The police chief has said that he would provide a police escort, the same that they do for the Sugar Festival 5K Run, that it would be handled the same way, as the route is the same that they follow every year.”

Setup for the fundraiser begins at 7:30 a.m. and the race will run through 9:30.

In an interview Thursday night after their first home match, Tigers coach Miller said a lot of fundraisers take place at the high school level every week and that they didn’t want to do the same old usual car wash. “I was trying to think of a different way to stand out and also be beneficial to the community and the team, so I said why not do a 5K? “I thought it would be a real cool idea to have an athletic event for our team, and basically we went for it and got accepted, so hopefully it can be a yearly event for us,” he finished.

They’ll start at the church because it’s a perfect 5K distance.

Coach Miller explained that Hurricane Irma destroyed the high school’s wrestling room in September 2017. “It put a lot of holes (in the roof) and destroyed the mats that we had … so actually last year was pretty rough for us. We had a young team, and a small team to begin with, but we jumped between about three locations before, graciously, the Clewiston Youth Development Academy allowed us to practice there.” They also used a private facility and the CHS junior varsity football team’s locker room, “but it wasn’t very safe there. So over the summer, they actually fixed the fieldhouse because it took some time for the school district to get the money together.” The wrestlers still don’t have their own weight room, although three of them play football also and have access to the team’s weightlifting equipment, which is on campus. But the wrestlers have no practice space there and are using the middle school’s facilities.

Coach Miller said community response has been “phenomenal so far. I’m very excited for it.” He said they finally got lucky and were able to raise enough money to afford two new sets of mats, “but we still need to get new wrestling headgear,” and they go through a lot of cleaning supplies. Wall mats are another need, “to get more protection for our wrestlers.” They did get new singlets a couple of years ago, and new warmup outfits last year, so they’re covered in the uniform department.

The team has seven members right now, but there are 14 weight classes, which increases the pressure on individuals because they all have to win for the team to do so-so in meets. “Automatically we’re at a disadvantage, because the highest we can get is a tie. It’s an intense sport, and we always start out with a big group of kids but those numbers dwindle” for lots of reasons, he said. This Tigers wrestling team is composed mostly of sophomores.

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