Manhattan High wrestling coach Robert Gonzales works year-round to make sure the Indians are among Kansas’ best teams on the mat year in and year out.
That includes summer workouts and camps, which are in full swing this week with a pair of one-day clinics before the Indians hit the road for team camp in Iowa.
Tuesday evening, Gonzales will host area youth entering grades 3-6 at the Manhattan High West campus mat room, housed in its own detached building on the west side of the building. The clinic is free and the aim is to expose younger kids to the fundamentals of wrestling while generating interest in the sport.
“We’re opening that up from 5:30 to 7, and these guys are going be there and help me teach, and all we’re doing is creating exposure,” Gonzales said. “It’s a free clinic, and for everybody that shows up we’re giving a free t-shirt, and what it says on there is ‘Manhattan Victory’ with an Indian head. That’s our motto this year.
“The community has supported us well over the years, and we try to patronize them. But this is something we can do for our community.”
Wednesday night, Gonzales will host a day camp for his high school team, which begins at 8:30 a.m. and features Division-II national champion Daniel DeShazer, a Wichita Heights product and three-time Kansas state champion.
“I’m bringing in Daniel DeShazer, a University of Nebraska-Kearney national champion at 133,” Gonzales said. “We’re excited about bringing him in to spend Wednesday with him.”
The camp helps set the tone for the following as the team heads to camp in Iowa next week.
“We’ve been going for seven years, and it’s a four-day camp,” Gonzales said. “We’ll eat, breathe and sleep nothing but wrestling for four days, and we pick up the Iowa style.
“We’ve got 26 kids going, four dads and my coaching staff all going. The positive with this camp is it’s a team camp, so our guys grades 9-12, at night, we’ll get three good matches each night. We can get 12 or 14 matches in against teams from five different states.”
Also helping to bolster the intensity of summer workouts is the use of a warehouse owned by Matthew and Arrica Wallace in east Manhattan, where wrestlers from youth all the way through college age from around the area can come and work out with other wrestlers. The building has a large section of mats, but also is stocked with weights and fitness machines.
“We call this the Wallace Training Facility, because it’s for all boys and girls,” Gonzales said. “We have kids coming all the time to work out. We’ve got all these machines and free weights — everything the Wallace family has provided for wrestling. They all have a place — they can always get a workout in.
Gonzales said he appreciates what the building can do for his program.
“I couldn’t ask for a better gift,” he said. “I already know I have the best job in America, let alone Kansas. But with the addition of this facility, it’s even better. I’m totally enamored and excited.”