Spielbauer is awarded AGSA Athlete of the Month

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Samantha Spielbauer is all smiles after winning at the Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association's girls state tournament. She had the fastest pin, in 1:16, to win at 160. (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker

Balancing a demanding academic and athletic schedule can be very stressful on high school student-athletes. Fifteen-year-old Clayton Ridge sophomore Samantha Spielbauer has had plenty of practice prioritizing her busy athletic schedule. 

AGSA Athlete of the Month

AGSA (American Gold Sports Alliance) recently recognized Samantha Spielbauer as their February Athlete of the Month. AGSA aims to encourage and inspire achievement in the world of sports competition by identifying, informing, encouraging, and supporting athletes and student-athletes to excel in their chosen sport.

Spielbauer, whose parents are Christa Hefel and Steve Spielbauer, has nine brothers and sisters and lives on a 100-acre farm near Osterdock. She has participated in basketball, wrestling, soccer, gymnastics, volleyball, softball and track. "I can't pick a favorite. I love them all," she said. 

The talented athlete is used to spending long hours in the gym. "My junior high years I home-schooled online, and spent five hours a day in the gym practicing gymnastics, training with All Around Gymnastics in Dubuque. It was pretty rough in the beginning, but I adapted to the schedule. I am a very social person and wanted my social life back so I decided to enroll at Clayton Ridge and attend high school." 

Spielbauer participates in basketball and wrestling simultaneously. "I had to decide which one I wanted to dedicate more time to. I picked basketball, so I only attended wrestling practice once a week," she explained.  

There are only two girls on the Clayton Ridge wrestling team. Spielbauer shared what inspired her to join the lineup.  She commented, "One of the wrestling coaches saw me lying on top of somebody at basketball practice, and begged me to join the wrestling team, so I thought I would give it a try. Michaela Blume and myself represent the women on the team. We practice with the boys under the direction of Coach Jared Grinstead."

Even though this is Spielbauer's first year of wrestling, she surprised everyone – including herself — by winning the state wrestling championship during the third annual Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association’s girls state tournament. She had the fastest pin, in 1:16 to win at 160. "The girls state wrestling tournament is growing rapidly. The first year 80 female athletes participated. The second year saw around 230, and this year approximately 450 participants wrestled," she noted. 

The stellar athlete will continue her wrestling season at the 2021 High School National Recruiting Showcase and Girls Folkstyle Nationals Tournament on March 27-28. "I still have the national recruiting showcase at the end of March that I will compete at on my own. Michaela and I will both compete at the Girls Folkstyle National Tournament," she explained.

Spielbauer's first love is animals. "We have moved back to the farm, so now I am able to ride and train horses again, which is my first love. If I am not in the gym or in school or out with friends I am on a horse. We also have peacocks and alpacas. I would like to acquire more and more animals," she said with a smile.

The student-athlete reports that her academics are going well, and commented on winning the state title. She said, "It was exciting to win the state title, but I didn't expect it. I have been competing at the state level in gymnastics for a long time, so I was used to being on the podium. I never gave it much thought, because in gymnastics you are always moving on to the next competition. There has been more excitement surrounding this win, because it is the first state wrestling title the school has ever experienced." 

Spielbauer and Michaela will prepare for nationals on their own. "Our coach can't oversee our training anymore. We are working with other coaches from other schools, and working on the basics of what we know. All sports are a mental game. I try to stay out of my head. If I tell myself a girl is going to beat then they will. I told myself that before the only match I ever lost. I try to go out, do my thing, and hope for the best," said Spielbauer. 

The dedicated sports star shared her appreciation for her coach and teammates. She noted, "I love Coach Grinstead. I wouldn't want to be coached by anybody else. He likes to have fun and our team does too. We wouldn't do well with a super serious coach. He knows what to say, knows when to be serious, and when to have a little bit of fun. I also love my teammates. We all seem to get along and enjoy working together." 

Update: Samantha participated in Iowa AAU state tournament on Feb. 28, and won second in 160 weight class and Michaela took 3rd place in 148 weight class.

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