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A new era in K-M wrestling: Heidt takes new role with KoMets

Legendary Kasson-Mantorville High School wrestling coach Jamie Heidt is transitioning to an assistant coach position this season, handing the reigns to longtime assistant Ryan Hill.

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KASSON — Jamie Heidt could see the writing on the wall for a while now.

In fact, the last few years, the highly-touted Kasson-Mantorville wrestling coach and assistant Ryan Hill talked about the next steps for the perennial powerhouse program.

It involved Hill becoming the head coach and Heidt transitioning to an assistant coaching role, so he can focus on what he truly loves doing: Coaching on the mat.

The timing for both, though, just didn’t feel right.

But, about a month before the current high school season, the two circled back to those discussions.

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This time, the decision was made to start a new era of K-M wrestling.

“We think it's the right time for all parties,” Heidt said. “You always put the program first and make decisions that give the program every opportunity again. We felt it was the best thing for this year and moving forward for the future also.”

Heidt didn’t want to call the move a step back. Instead, being an assistant gives him more opportunities to use his great teaching skills on the mat. He did say the move is a win-win, as Hill has been with Heidt since 2013 and is widely-respected across not only the area, but the state.

“Ryan, who’s been with me for quite a few years, is a great, young coach that has a lot of value to bring,” Heidt said. “He’s one of the pioneers of coaching and we want to make sure we are fully utilizing that here.”

Heidt became co-head coach with Paul Mann in 2011-12, before taking over full time in 2014 when Mann stepped down.

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Kasson-Mantorville head coach Jamie Heidt, center, hugs Jim Paulson after Paulson pinned Simley’s Blake Holzem in the 195-pound match of the Section 1AA team championship Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, in Rochester. Assistant coaches Jeff Patzke, left, and Broc Berge, right, also are pictured.

Utilizing the "Iowa style" that focuses on tough, nose-to-the-grindstone wrestling for all 6 minutes, the former Hawkeye took a budding K-M program to new heights.

He helped guide the KoMets to the school’s first-ever state championship in any sport in 2013, before bringing home three more with consecutive titles from 2016-18. The KoMets finished runner-up to nationally ranked Simley last season. Overall, the KoMets were section champions seven times under Heidt, while the individual talent he developed was second to none.

Eleven grapplers won individual state championships during Heidt's time as head coach, with eight of those bringing home multiple state titles.

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Remarkably, there have been 30 wrestlers in the history of Minnesota high school wrestling to have won at least four individual state titles. Heidt has coached three of them — Patrick Kennedy, Brady Berge and Bennett Berge — in the past six years. Bennett Berge is one of only seven to have won at least five state titles.

Simply incredible.

But as time wore on, it became clear to Heidt that he no longer necessarily had the time or energy to keep being the head guy in charge. In that time, Heidt saw the work Hill put in.

“This gives me an opportunity to still be involved and still have my time be allocated back to me a little more now about what I love to do, and that's you know, that's coaching the guys on the mat,” Heidt said. “I enjoy that part of it a lot. There's a lot to running a wrestling program or high school athletic program, and, of course, every head coach out there knows all the different hats that they wear at different times. You have to be the CEO of the whole program.

“I've seen Ryan over the years and as a coach evolve into that. He's a great organizer. He's a great manager. He’s spent time in the youth program, the middle school programs, the high school programs, he just has a pulse, overall on the program. When you see a guy like that, see that potential, that’s something where I can make those changes and give him that opportunity to take the program to that next step. That was my goal, to put K-M wrestling in a position to be built for the long-term. It’s just a next step forward.”

He's not exactly sure what he's going to do with his spare time, but knows this is for the best. For him and for the program moving forward.

"I'm a pretty busy guy. I'll find stuff to do," Heidt said with a laugh. "I'm always occupied with some sort of work, whether it's wrestling or electrical work, but I'm just a firm believer that change is good. In my coaching years I really wanted to continue to make change and small change and different types of things all the time to keep things fresh. When you stop looking at new ways to get better, and certainly to stop making decisions on things to move forward, things get stale. Not to say we've been stale, but we never want to be that way. I see the opportunity there for us for Ryan to step in. Obviously, the line to step in 100% confident, he's going to do an unbelievable job. Not a lot of change as far as the foundation of the program, so it seemed like it was just the right fit right now."

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Kasson-Mantorville coach Jamie Heidt talks to the team between matches during the 24th Annual Bob Swalla Memorial Team Duals on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020, at Kasson-Mantorville Senior High School in Kasson. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)

Related Topics: WRESTLINGKASSON-MANTORVILLE
Alex VandenHouten has been a sports reporter at the Post Bulletin since Sept. 2021. He loves to go hiking, biking, snowshoeing and just simply being outdoors with his wife Olivia. Readers can reach Alex at avandenhouten@postbulletin.com.
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