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Former Red River wrestler writes novel about sport

On the back cover of his novel, Heath Hertel cuts to the chase: "In the vast frozen expanse of America's heartland burns the heart of a champion." Hertel's novel, "To Be the Best," is a story of two brothers' journey to become the high school wre...

On the back cover of his novel, Heath Hertel cuts to the chase: "In the vast frozen expanse of America's heartland burns the heart of a champion."

Hertel's novel, "To Be the Best," is a story of two brothers' journey to become the high school wrestling champions they aspire to be.

Hertel, who currently lives in the Twin Cities, attended Grand Forks Red River High School, where he experienced first hand the dedication and drive needed to compete in wrestling.

Hertel said he drew upon many of his Red River wrestling experiences as an inspiration for his self-published book.

Initially, Hertel was going to base the story on two Grand Forks high school wrestlers. But when it came to the location, the characters and timeline of the book, Hertel said he decided to keep it vague.

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"I wanted to keep it somewhat generic," Hertel said. "This way, when people from Iowa read the book they can place the story in Iowa."

Time had come

Hertel said he's always wanted to write the book, adding it was a story that he had been thinking about for years.

Of all sports, wrestling was one that intrigued him most. It was a natural fit for his book.

"Drama is inherent in the sport," Hertel said.

Wrestling has everything from the dedication it takes to cut weight to the strong mentality a wrestler must possess to be bent into a human pretzel and still not give up.

Hertel's passion and respect for the sport is clear as a reader flips through the pages of "To Be the Best."

The novel is about more than just wrestling, however.

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It also focuses on the struggles of teenagers -- their triumphs and downfalls during the high school years.

This is not the end of Hertel's novel endeavors. The book covers only the first part of the lives of the characters.

He is creating the second half of their story now, which will be titled, "To Be the Best: Final Challenges."

Hertel hopes his second book will leave his readers satisfied.

"This second book speaks to me even more," he said.

Kimbrough is a summer intern at the Herald. Reach her at (701) 780-1268; (800) 477-6572, ext. 268.

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