K-M uses big dual meet as platform for ‘Military Appreciation Night’
The wrestling dual between Kasson-Mantorville and Zumbrota-Mazeppa was going to be a major event in the landscape of the sport.
The dual featured two defending high school state champions and teams that were ranked atop their respective classes.
With the KoMets’ nearly 10-year Hiawatha Valley League winning streak on the line, this had everything a wrestling fan could want.
As nearly 1,500 people packed Home Federal Arena, including University of Minnesota wrestling coach Brandon Eggum, this was going to be an event that even the most casual people would see. With that, it seemed like the perfect place to have a platform for Military Appreciation Night.
As if the dual between the KoMets and Cougars couldn’t get any bigger, K-M invited several members of the military, including four World War II veterans, to sit mat-side for the dual. They also welcomed color guards from both communities to take part and thank the men and women who served this country so that they could put on a show for them on Jan. 25.
“We talk a lot about being grateful,” K-M wrestling coach Jamie Heldt said. “We live in a great country that gives us the opportunities to do what we do. I think it’s very important to recognize and be grateful for those that have given those opportunities us and allow us to live the way that we do.”
Heidt’s wife, Denise, came up with the concept for Military Appreciation Night, and it was a success, with donation buckets being scattered throughout the arena and a dinner featuring pulled pork from Country Pleasures before the dual. There was also a reception with cake for everyone - except for the wrestlers.
Good fun aside, Bill Vaughn, who also played a role in getting the night put together, said the night was all about honoring the veterans and making sure that they aren’t forgotten.
“The biggest thing is that veterans sometimes get forgotten about,” Vaughn said. “We’re trying to put on a show for the veterans and do something nice for them by letting them in for free and have a nice ceremony ahead of time.”
By honoring those who have paved the way, Heidt also believes that both teams learned a valuable lesson outside of the mega-dual.
“We want to teach these young men that there are more things than just a wrestling match,” Heidt said. “This is what we get to do, because they have given to us.”