One-on-One: Unique aspects of BV wrestling program inspire hard work

Sally Cochran, Editor in Chief

The Eye of the Tiger


According to wrestling coach Kale Mann, it’s a virtue not given the credit it deserves.

“I think a lot of times success is celebrated when sometimes that’s not the most difficult thing to do or the biggest accomplishment,” he said. “If people are more gifted naturally, then they might experience more success whether or not they work as hard.”

When Mann took lead of the wrestling program two years ago, he said he created The Eye of the Tiger Award to celebrate dedication to the sport.

“[Wrestlers] have to have perfect attendance at practices and competitions,” he said. “They can’t be late — they can’t leave early. They can’t go on a college visit or vacation. They have to be at everything they’re scheduled to be at.”

As many students begin wrestling during their high school years, Mann said the award also helps highlight the team’s goals.

“I think it sets the expectation of, ‘We come in to work every day to get better,’” he said. “Even if someone is first learning how to wrestle, they can still control their own actions. They can still control whether they’re at practice or not every day.”

In the two years the award has existed, six athletes have earned it.

Last year’s recipients were alumni Jackson Macoubrie and Keith Mulligan, senior Joel Thomas and sophomore Max Molitor.

“To me, it means that you care enough about the sport to come every day and not make excuses,” Thomas said.

Winners receive a T-shirt as well as an arguably greater prize — their names on a large sign in the wrestling room.


20-Minute Match

Imagine a football game with three hours of constant action.

Or a cross country meet with the sole event being a 15K.

Such an extensive show of athleticism is a reality for Blue Valley varsity wrestlers as they face the 20-minute match.

“Every minute, you get a new partner, and it doesn’t stop,” wrestling coach Kale Mann said. “There’s no break. Every minute, someone new is coming at you for 20 straight minutes. It’s a conditioning drill, but it’s also a mental-toughness drill.”

Mann said the 20-minute match isn’t necessarily like wrestling in competitions.

“We’re not keeping score,” he said. “We’re not worried about that — we just want to make sure wrestlers are still fighting for good position and being competitive even when they’re tired.”

Junior Shawn Alexander said the drill is intense.

“It’s very painful,” he said. “You’re so tired, and you’re trying to catch up on breathing while continuing to go against a fresh wrestler, someone who hasn’t been wrestling for the past 10, 15, 20 minutes.”

Mann completed the challenge of the 20-minute match last season while the team watched.

“He had a good attitude,” Alexander said. “He was working hard the entire time. He didn’t complain once until the very end, where he was just messing around. It was very good leadership on his part to show us he would do what he tells us to do.”

Facing the brutal 20-minute match brings wrestlers confidence in future matchups, Mann said.

“We feel like if you can do that with 20 different wrestling partners in a row, then you should be able to wrestle one person for 6 minutes straight as hard as you can,” he said.