MANHATTAN – The Manhattan wrestling program is in its inaugural campaign. As expected, it’s been met with numerous difficulties along the way.
“We’ve had some challenges as far as finding facilities,” coach Raymond DeBruycker said. “We were able to get practice mats from Belgrade, which was a huge benefit. We actually got eight kids out, which was a lot more than expected considering none of them had ever laced up wrestling shoes or put on head gear before, so it’s gone really well. ”
Manhattan wrestlers had no varsity experience and virtually no wrestling experience of any kind coming into the season.
“My dad made me do a little wrestling camp when I was 8 years old, but other than that, no previous experience to wrestling,” Porter Blanchard said.
With his kids new to the sport, coach DeBruycker is focused on getting better every day and not worrying about match results. He’s seen progression and improvement on a match-to-match basis.
“They’re doing really well,” DeBruycker said. “Our goal is to get better every day. We’re not judging our season on wins and losses. We’re getting a lot more wins as the year goes on. We’re progressing, we’re getting better, and the kids have had a great attitude about it.”
The family ties of wrestling are what initially drew Blanchard and many of his teammates to the mat.
“It was just the fact that my family has done wrestling, they’ve been a big-time wrestling family,” Blanchard said. “So I just figured that our school finally has the chance to do wrestling, so I decided to join that.”
Although DeBruycker is excited with the growth and progress made in Year 1, he’s looking forward to what the future of the program holds. DeBruycker wrestled for Choteau in high school before playing safety for the Montana Grizzlies’ football team, and he’s hoping he can pass on the work ethic necessary to excel.
“I want to see the kids enjoy the season, and I want to see them learn the sport and the dedication that it takes,” DeBruycker said. “What I’d like to see going forward is actually that they spend some time in the offseason working, maybe recruiting a few more kids. We have all underclassmen, which is really cool. I think if they’re going to buy in and stick with it, we might be able to start making some noise in a couple of years when these guys get to be upperclassmen.”