Swede wrestlers raise the bar
With success comes higher expectations.
The atmosphere has changed in the Gothenburg wrestling room.
There’s a little something different in the air and it has nothing to do with temperature or odor.
It’s all about the expectations.
“It’s no longer good enough just to be a varsity starter, to be the best in town or to be the best in the county,” said Swede coach Eric Manstedt. “Expectations have changed. School support and community support have boosted that. People are talking about the Gothenburg wrestling program. It’s encouraging.”
With three team titles this season and a host of individual gold medals, Manstedt deems the 2009-10 wrestling season a success for many reasons.
“Mostly it’s because this team stepped up,” the coach said. “We were a pretty young team and still we competed every match every meet. They’re taking steps forward. That’s what we need to do all the time.”
Several records fell this season, including a host of individual marks made fresh by junior Tanner Schwanz who competed at the 119-pound weight this season.
Schwanz is the first wrestler in Gothenburg school history to win 40 matches in a season, finishing the year with a 40-8 record.
Those 40 wins put Schwanz just one victory away from the momentous 100 wins. At the end of his junior year, his career record sits at 99-36.
With a sixth-place finish at state this season, Manstedt said he’s sure Schwanz has a little something to prove next year.
“That sixth-place medal will be with him forever,” Manstedt said. “No one can take that honor away from him and I think that just makes him hungry for more.”
Schwanz also set the top mark for takedowns in a season with 100, first takedowns in a season at 34 and points earned for the team in a season with 246.5.
Teammate Mitch Spiegel brought home a sixth-place medal from the state wrestling meet as well.
Wrestling at 103 pounds, Spiegel finished the year at 37-11 setting a new high mark for wins in a sophomore season.
It was the first time since 1986 that Gothenburg has earned more than one medal at state.
Combining Schwanz and Spiegel with Bryce Eggleston, Kyle Demoret and Dane Ehlers—fellow underclassmen who are returning state qualifiers—gives Manstedt a strong nucleus to build around.
“Next year we won’t have to rebuild, we’ll just reload,” the coach said.
Only three seniors finished the season with the team. Tommy France, Chris Hyde and Eric Stevens modeled dedication, work ethic and leadership for the younger wrestlers.
“They’ve been part of the building process for this program,” Manstedt said. “As graduating seniors they may not have accomplished all of their goals on the wrestling mat but they are better people because they were part of it all.”
That kind of character is what Manstedt said he wants all Swede wrestlers to take away from the sport.
“What wrestling does for these guys as people doesn’t come from anything else,” the coach said. “They will never back down from a challenge and that’s an invaluable trait.”
The wrestling season is long and grueling, Manstedt said. Several varsity Swedes had 40 or more matches.
“That’s a lot of wrestling,” he said. “It’s a grind but these kids all rose to the occasion. That’s what it takes to build a program.”
RELATED STORY: Swede Wrestling Leaders
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