Sluik to cap stellar career with JimmiesIt’s en vogue in sports these days to label an athlete or a coach “the face” of a team or program. Traditionally it is the head coach, but certain athletes can qualify. In the brief history of the Jamestown College women’s wrestling program, Tiffany Sluik would certainly be in the mix as “the face” of the Jimmies. The Mason City, Iowa, native was one of the initial recruits of previous coach Cisco Cole and she has not disappointed.
By: By Dave Selvig, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
It’s en vogue in sports these days to label an athlete or a coach “the face” of a team or program.
Traditionally it is the head coach, but certain athletes can qualify.
In the brief history of the Jamestown College women’s wrestling program, Tiffany Sluik would certainly be in the mix as “the face” of the Jimmies.
The Mason City, Iowa, native was one of the initial recruits of previous coach Cisco Cole and she has not disappointed.
The two-time All-American will cap off her stellar career this weekend at the WCWA National Meet in Bristol, Tenn., where she’s seeded seventh at 130 pounds.
Sluik’s pulled off an Adrian Peterson-esque performance even to be competing this weekend. She suffered a torn ACL in late December of 2011 and just eight months later was back on the mat.
“Wrestling runs in the family. I was brainwashed early,” she joked.
Sluik has become adept at overcoming challenges.
She was the only girl on her high school team. After initially dealing with skittish coaches and teammates, she quickly won their respect over by simply winning.
“I’ve been fortunate in that after I showed I could compete and that it wasn’t just some gimmick, I never had any problems. In fact, it was the opposite,” she said. “I had really good relationships with coaches and teammates.”
She’s certainly carried that over to Jamestown College.
She placed third at nationals in 2009 and 2010 before injuries derailed her chances the next two years. She received a medical redshirt after the knee injury and has not wasted her fifth season.
She’s a big reason why the Jimmies are ranked fourth heading into this weekend’s meet.
“The quality of girls on the team has grown tremendously through my years. We have so many good girls now,” she said. “I think we could go as high as third and that would be a great achievement for us.”
Sluik is one of five seniors that will be in action this weekend for the Jimmies along with Erie Bragg, Michelle Canete, Chelsie Fleming and Chaelynn Tan. Bragg is ranked eighth at 191.
Freshman Amy Fearnside (4th at 109), Natalie Rutt (10th, 116), Alicia Hubbard (6th, 123), Shai Mason (3rd, 136), Christina Zamora (4th) and Mary Westman (5th) at 155, Lilia Gudzyuk (3rd) and Kayla Volin (5th) are the other ranked JC wrestlers.
“It’s been fun to see the program grow,” Sluik said. “Coach (Tony DeAnda) is going to make sure things keep going and the future looks great.”
Sluik will graduate in May with a double major in business administration and health and fitness administration. Her twin sister, Tara, will do the same with a degree in elementary education. Tiffany credited her sister for much of her success.
“She’s my best friend. I’ve never done anything without her really,” Tiffany said. “If I need to lose weight she’s always there to get on me.”
Both plan to move back to Iowa when the school year is over, although it’s still hard, she said, to imagine that her career is coming to an end. Another All-American performance would be a great way to go out, although after suffering the torn ACL last year her perspective on everything changed for the better.
“Looking back, it’s probably the best thing that could have happened,” she said. “It changed my whole outlook on everything — on second chances and not wasting opportunities. It was a really good learning experience and everything has ended up turning out pretty well. I’m happy.”
Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8560 or firstname.lastname@example.org