From a story by Susan Harman of the Iowa City Press Citizen:
Sports reporting has historically attracted more than its share of characters. Even in today’s button-downed times of serious reporting sports still has room for some off-beat personalities.
Dan McCool, a longtime Des Moines Register reporter, is one of those indescribable scribes. McCool is a great big guy with a big voice, wild hair and a fury fu manchu stache. You might think he’s scary if you didn’t know better. But McCool, who grew up in Clarion, would give you the shirt off his back if you asked. It would be a shirt from some wrestling tournament no doubt, but he’d still give it to you.
Since his premature “retirement” in a downsizing move, McCool has been busy writing a history of Iowa high school wrestling that came out this fall. “Reach for the Stars” is a fascinating, comprehensive history of the coaches, wrestlers, parents, officials and administrators who have made the Iowa state wrestling tournament the biggest and best in the nation.
McCool loves wrestling and you can see that on every page. The countless hours he spent covering the sport for decades were strictly a labor of love. He knew everybody involved in the sport and could tell stories about every one of them.
The book is 453 pages with an appendix of the results of all the championship matches in state tournament history along with a list of state champs who went on to win collegiate national titles.
Needless to say the book includes a lot of area wrestling folks including West High’s Marv and Mark Reiland, City High’s Brad Smith and Jeff McGinness, and a ton of University of Iowa connections.
If you’re looking for a Christmas present for that wrestler or wrestling fan, this book is the ticket.
From a column by Steve Allspach of the Sioux City Journal:
Without question, the best wrestling read you'll find is Dan McCool's "Reach for the Stars, The Iowa State High School Wrestling Tournament.''
It's every bit the rival of Craig Sesker's entertaining story about former Iowa State Coach Bobby Douglas.
McCool, a walking, talking encyclopedia of prep wrestling in the Hawkeye State, grew up in Clarion, once a hotbed of high school wrestling.
Jim Gibbons, a state prep champ, NCAA champ and ex-Iowa State coach does the forward for the massive tome, approximately 600 pages in length.
Included are some interesting and informative vignettes about dozens of former Iowa high school matmen, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug.
Sesker, like McCool, grew up in Iowa. Therefore, good reads make sense. And, remember, McCool is on a first-name basis with many of the folks and their accomplishments he chronicles.
(Thanks to Terry Hersom for permission to reprint these kind words.)
From an NCAA Division I coach who recruited Iowa kids:
What an awesome book. Can't say I'm surprised, as I've known the quality of your work, but I was very pleased. A tradition as great as the Iowa state tournament should have a book devoted to it and now it has a great one.
- Jack Spates, University of Oklahoma
From a two-time state champion:
"I started your book this weekend and could not put it down. This is a piece of history that had to be captured. It is so rich that it has me laughing one page and crying the next. Congrats to you!"
- Randy Smith, Clarion
From a 1941 state champion:
"What a great book you put together...I liked the introductory comments of Jim Gibbons. He did a nice job. It's interesting to me to read all about the old coaches & wrestlers....It's nice to read about them now after 60-plus years out of school."
- Merle Roths, New Hampton
From a state championship-winning coach:
"...You have written an Iowa high school wrestling masterpiece."
- Andy Davidson, Dallas Center-Grimes
From a state tournament medalist:
"A very insightful book on the rich, long history of the Iowa High School State tournament. Reading about the wrestling matches and stories from guys I've never heard of going way back to the 1920s was captivating. What is interesting to me, are some of the connections of the coaches through the years. A lot of good coaches influenced their wrestlers to be future coaches - and great ones."
- Craig Cervantes, Bettendorf
From a past State Tournament participant:
"I have been involved in Iowa wrestling since the 1940's as a competitor, as a spectator, and as a person that just loves the sport.
I cannot think of one thing that I remember about Iowa Wrestling that is not in this book. This book is 620 pages of great information.
I have a cousin that placed 2nd in the Iowa High School State Tournament. I was in the 1952 State High School Wrestling Tournament. I didn't win but the top two wrestlers in my weight were listed. My other cousin's son won the State Tournament twice in the early 70's and it is all in there.
This book is absolutely fantastic and loaded with great information. I am glad to have this book and would recommend it to anyone that loves Iowa Wrestling. If something happened in Iowa Wrestling it is in this book."
- Ervin E. Harmon, NU High, Cedar Falls