They fill water bottles. They take powdered Gatorade, add water and stir it in a big container. They keep stats, shoot video, clean wrestling mats and oh yeah they also sweat. A lot.
The job of student manager for a high school wrestling team is not for the faint-hearted. Wrestlers bleed and they spit and they sweat. Sometimes they sweat on purpose as they try to make weight. So imagine this: a school bus on a relatively warm and sunny day, traveling to a match with the heat turned all the way up so the wrestlers can get a good sweat going.
“On the bus rides, when they’re overweight the heat is just cranked,” said Halle Girtz, a ninth-grader at Pierz and a team manager. “They’ll be under blankets and coats, trying to sweat it out. And we have to sweat through it, too. It’s a lot to handle.”
Virtually every team competing in this weekend’s state wrestling tournament at Xcel Energy Center has student managers, the majority of them female. It can be a selfless job, but a quick survey of some of the managers at the tournament found them to be enthusiastic and happy to be part of the team. (Pictured here are the managers from Pipestone.)
“We take stats, we make sure the guys know where they need to be and know the bus times. Basically we’re their big sisters,” said Hannah Kranz, a junior from Sibley East.
Another Sibley East manager, ninth-grader Isabel Figueroa, said “Being able to be with the team, we’re basically like a family.”
The job can be time-consuming, especially for managers who attend every after-school practice, every dual match and every weekend tournament. That means they sometimes miss out on other school and community events.
“There is a lot of waiting around and long bus rides and waiting, waiting, waiting, and then you get to the match and then you wait again,” said Abby Lucken, a Pierz sophomore. “But I think in the end it’s all worth it just getting that experience.”
And it is quite an experience. Wrestlers who are trying to make weight can be difficult to be around. (Pictured are the Pierz managers.)
“I feel like we can’t be overly sensitive with them,” said Sibley East senior manager Kimberly Velazquez. “And you learn to grow a backbone, which helps in the real world. You’ve got to know how to stand up for yourself.”
The female managers tend to treat the wrestlers like they were their brothers. And that works both ways.
“The boys pick on the littlest things,” said Pipestone junior Chloe Lear. “Don’t listen to them. They all mean it in fun and they really do appreciate you more than they show.”
Girtz said, “The wrestlers treat you like you’re their sisters. Jordyn (Jansen) has a brother and I’m related to about half the team. It’s a really good experience.”
To which Jordyn, a Pierz junior, said, “It’s like your second family. The coaches treat you like you were their daughters.”
“It’s fun to be with the guys. They can be really weird but they’re just like our brothers,” said Sibley East senior Bernice Mendoza.
Through all the sweating and running and weight-cutting by the wrestlers, the managers sometimes step in with treats.
“I made brownies so after weigh-ins they can enjoy themselves,” Lucken said. “Two big pans.”State Wrestling Recap
--Two individuals won their fourth state championships Saturday night:
2A 160: Brady Berge, Kasson-Mantorville.
3A 132: Brent Jones, Shakopee.
--Winning a third state title:
3A 285: Gable Steveson, Apple Valley. The top-ranked heavyweight in the nation pinned all four opponents at state, including a 10-second pin in the title match.
--In Class 3A, Shakopee had five wrestlers in the finals and all five were state champs: Aaron Cashman at 113, Carson Manville at 126, Jones at 132, Alex Lloyd at 145 and Alex Crowe at 152. St. Michael-Albertville had two winners: Patrick McKee at 120 and Jake Allar at 170.
--In Class 2A, Simley had three champions: Jake Gliva at 126, Anthony Jackson at 152 and Daniel Kerkvliet at 195. Kasson-Mantorville crowned three winners: Keaton Schorr at 138, Berge at 160 and Patrick Kennedy at 170. Waconia had two champs: Garrett Vos at 120 and Tyler Wagener at 145.
--In Class 1A, Kenyon-Wanamingo had champions in Jeron Matson at 113 and Tyler Ryan at 152. Pipestone also had dual winners in Hunter Burnett at 120 and Michael Suda at 126.
--Total attendance for the tournament was 56,541, an increase of 2,647 over last year's tournament.State Wrestling Champions
106 1A/ Blake Legred/United South Central
106 2A/ Matthew Petersen/Byron
106 3A/ Reid Ballantyne/Stillwater
113 1A/ Jeron Matson/Kenyon-Wanamingo
113 2A/ Charlie Pickell/Mankato West
113 3A/ Aaron Cashman/Shakopee
120 1A/ Hunter Burnett/Pipestone
120 2A/ Garrett Vos/Waconia
120 3A/ Patrick McKee/St. Michael-Albertville
126 1A/ Michael Suda/Pipestone
126 2A/ Jake Gliva/Simley
126 3A/ Carson Manville/Shakopee
132 1A/ Tanner Pasvogel/Sibley East
132 2A/ Tucker Sjomeling/Delano
132 3A/ Brent Jones/Shakopee
138 1A/ Lane Heim/St. Charles
138 2A/ Keaton Schorr/Kasson-Mantorville
138 3A/ Tyler Eischens/Anoka
145 1A/ Jake Mandt/Chatfield
145 2A/ Tyler Wagener/Waconia
145 3A/ Alex Lloyd/Shakopee
152 1A/ Tyler Ryan/Kenyon-Wanamingo
152 2A/ Anthony Jackson/Simley
152 3A/ Alex Crowe/Shakopee
160 1A/ Bailee O’Reilly/Goodhue
160 2A/ Brady Berge/Kasson-Mantorville
160 3A/ Kenny O’Neil/Prior Lake
170 1A/ Alex Erpelding/Staples-Motley
170 2A/ Patrick Kennedy/Kasson-Mantorville
170 3A/ Jake Allar/St. Michael-Albertville
182 1A/ Caden Steffen/Zumbrota-Mazeppa
182 2A/ Jared Florell/Totino-Grace
182 3A/ Brandon Moen/Owatonna
195 1A/ Christopher Bain/GMLOS
195 2A/ Daniel Kerkvliet/Simley
195 3A/ Samuel Grove/Moorhead
220 1A/ Reid Seelhammer/Dover-Eyota
220 2A/ Noah Ryan/Kasson-Mantorville
220 3A/ Cole Fibranz/Sartell-St. Stephen
285 1A/ Trent Esping/Minneota
285 2A/ Mitch Trigg/Foley
285 3A/ Gable Steveson/Apple Valley
BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 499
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 8,757
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn