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Manny Hopes to Continue Proud Simpson Tradition

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Clint Manny was named to the head coach position at Simpson College in April after Ron Peterson stepped down following 13 years of leading the Storm.  In his time with Simpson, Peterson had the chance to coach Manny to 148 wins, good for the most wins in the rich history of Simpson Wrestling.  A three time All-American and two-time runner-up, Manny became one of the younger coaches in Division III when he ascended from assistant to head coach at his alma mater.

Quite a few head coaches wrestled at the school they now coach, and Manny is one of them.  He has great enthusiasm not only for coaching, but also for Simpson College.  He describes his time at Simpson as a student as some of the best years of his life, and the experience there shaped him into the person he is today.  Taking that to heart, Manny recognizes how he as a coach will help shape the college experience of his wrestlers as they traverse the four years of college.  “The value of the relationships I built at Simpson with my teammates and coaches truly is priceless, and I want to provide those same opportunities for my wrestlers,” Manny states.  He goes on to say, “Ron Peterson has taught me a lot in the last 3 years as an assistant and I’m still learning every day.”

A host of new responsibilities come with the move from assistant to head coach, and Clint Manny has good perspective on all that goes into the transition.  “Especially at the Division III level, you’re not just a coach. You’re a salesman when recruiting, you’re a counselor to your athletes, you’re a workout partner; you’re a bunch of different things, and that’s not including the other duties you’re given outside of the wrestling realm.”  That said, going into his first season as a head coach, he wisely does not claim to have it all figured out.  “My biggest challenge is learning to prioritize and really make sure my athletes are given the best opportunity to succeed.”

Simpson Wrestling has had quite a bit of success over the years, finishing in the top ten in the NCAA four times since 1998 and crowing 36 NCAA All-Americans over the past three decades.  Accounting for three of those himself, Manny is well-aware of the tradition he is tasked with continuing.  2008 was the first year in the last twenty that Simpson was not represented at the NCAA championships.  The team was young last year and will be again this year, but there are several wrestlers who can build on last year’s experience and hope to make the trip across the state to Cedar Rapids for the NCAA finals.  Manny sums it up like this, “Tradition in wrestling is our biggest ally at Simpson. We have very good support from our alumni, boosters, and athletic department because of our strong tradition of success. The best way for us to get back to our winning ways is to again, find the athletes that ‘fit’ our program and coaching staff.  Getting people excited about wrestling from the student manager to the president of the college is something I’ve really focused on in the last 6 months. Simpson wrestling should be something to be proud of, and it’s my job to make sure that happens.”

Part of continuing the tradition of success is recruiting the talent that can have success at the national level.  Simpson is in the toughest conference in Division III in a strong state for Division III wrestling, so the challenge of attracting top Iowa wrestlers to Simpson is a top priority for Manny.  “My number one recruiting philosophy is recruiting the right type of athlete. I truly believe that if you surround yourself with good people, good things will happen. If I can gather a group of 5-7 quality kids each year, ones that will stick together and be on a team together for the next four years of their life, success will follow them.”  Manny clearly has knowledge and enthusiasm about Simpson College, and executing his plan will be a key to building the program.  However, with perennial power Wartburg and up-and-comer Coe in the conference, the work will never be done.

To attract the wrestlers to Simpson that will take the team to the next level, Manny plans to highlight the quality of the education along with the experience and knowledge of the coaching staff.  His staff features Iowa Hall of Fame coach Bob Dyer along with Iowa Conference wrestlers Jared Creason and Drew Duff.  Based on his own experiences at Simpson, Manny believes he can see the whole package to get wrestlers on the team that can balance academics with wrestling while working hard purely for the love of the sport rather than a scholarship.

Like all wrestling coaches, Manny is constantly looking toward the future of both his team and the sport as a whole.  Wrestling is a sport where trends in technique and style come and go, and he has thoughts on where the sport is right now.  “With Iowa winning the Division I nationals this last year I think we’ll start to see more of the “Iowa-style” of wrestling come back. The mentality of moving forward, hand fighting, and never letting your opponent rest is what makes Iowa wrestling so tough year in and year out. That type of wrestling is good for the sport because it’s fun to watch.”  He also discusses his thoughts on the transition from high school to college wrestling.  “The single biggest key that is so hard for wrestlers making the transition to college is wrestling a mistake-free match.  So many good high school wrestlers can make a mistake in high school and still win, but when they get to college there is no margin for error.  It takes an amazing amount of discipline and mental toughness to win in the Iowa Conference.”

The focus then turned to his own team for the 2008-2009 season.  Simpson will have a young team with nine starters returning.  2007 national qualifier Curtis Barber will move up to 157 while his twin brother Calvin will make a similar move up to 149.  They will be challenged for those spots against experienced competition in Ben Hektoen and Geoff Murtha.  Other spots will be filled by wrestlers with at least a year’s worth of experience in a tough Iowa Conference schedule, and with that many returning starters, incoming freshman will either have to wait their turn or beat out an experienced wrestler to take the starting spot.  Other wrestlers expected to start include Caleb Brus at 141, Jordan Ammons at 174, and John Bunch at 285.

There is no doubt that Clint Manny is excited for his new challenge at the head coach of the Simpson Storm.  Iowa Conference competition will be fierce, but Manny hopes that will help his wrestlers improve and develop the talent, skills, and attitude necessary to win the tough matches in March and find their way onto the podium for All-American honors.