NEW ULM - After his first year of coaching the wrestling program at New Ulm High School last year, New Ulm wrestling coach John Rieser saw a need for some equipment updates.
So Rieser and New Ulm Athletic Director Chad Eischens decided it was time to get the most important piece of equipment of them all - a brand new wrestling mat.
Since one of the mats the Eagles used for home meets is about 30 years old, they upgraded this year, raising about $8,000 in the process to make it all work.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Members of the New Ulm wrestling team set up the new mat in the high school gym. The wrestling program raised $8,000 in order to purchase the new mat for this year.
In all, $7,000 was raised for the mat and New Ulm High School pitched in the last $1,000. About 60 donors donated $5,000 and $2,000 was raised by the Rolling Thunder to help with the total of $7,000 donated.
All in all, it was an important investment for the program and for the athletes who will use it.
"I think it was a great need," Rieser said.?"As a first-year coach last year, we do a lot of [triangulars] and quads and the second mat that we use is cut up - it was just not a good situation. We're going to host the [South Central] Conference tournament this year so it's something we really needed to get done."
Rieser sent out letters to alumni asking for help in purchasing the mats. The response he got was enough to help make the goal a reality.
"We had a great group of alumni and alumni parents that helped out," he said. "We got a group together and basically sat down and thought of different ideas and we just ended up mailing out letters asking for a specific fundraiser to buy a new mat."
The planning for the new mat started last spring. They got a $1,000 discount after they let the J. Robinson Camps from the University of Minnesota use the mat for a week. They ordered the mat in May and the camp used it in July.
Eischens said that the mat is a lighter-weight mat and there are different thicknesses. Eischens opted for the two-inch thick mat which is one of the thicker mats available.
"These things are incredibly light," Eischens said.?"Two guys can pick up the section and move it no problem. So from a co-ordinating standpoint, just moving it in and out of the gym will be really nice."
The Eagles plan to keep the mat in good shape by using it only for meets and not for practices. This year the Eagles are hosting the SCC meet on February 9, so this is a big step for the wrestling program.
Rieser and Eischens are both excited that they were able to upgrade and that should make it better for the wrestlers, too.
"I think it was great for the wrestling community to come forward and most people I talked to saw the need and were excited about it," Rieser said.