LINCOLN – A legendary coaching career came to an end in February at the State Wrestling Meet in Omaha.

Norm Manstedt retired after spending 50 years coaching high school wrestling at Clarks High School and High Plains High School.

Manstedt grew up in Wahoo, went to Wahoo High School and played baseball for Bob Cerv at John F. Kennedy College.

After leaving Wahoo, Manstedt has spent the past five decades coaching high school wrestling in the small communities of Clarks and Polk.

Manstedt made his retirement official at the 2019 Nebraska State Wrestling Championships when he left his shoes on the mat following his team’s final match.

“A lot of people were asking me what I was going to do. I was focusing on getting my kids qualified for the state meet. I really wasn’t thinking about it, but the whole experience ended up being overwhelming and very humbling,” Manstedt said.

Having the attention and focus shift from his athletes onto him was different for the longtime coach.

“It was really overwhelming and unbelievable. Getting all of the congratulations from other coaches, officials and then getting the ovation from everyone was really, really great,” Manstedt added.

On June 28, Manstedt was named the Honorary Marshal of the Cornhusker State Games Opening Ceremonies Parade of Athletes.

The opening ceremonies take place on Friday at 8 p.m. at Seacrest Field in Lincoln. Manstedt will get the chance to lead the athletes onto the field to kick off a celebration including skydivers, fireworks, trampoline acrobatics, patriotic tribute and the lighting of the cauldron.

“I had no idea I was even being considered. I coached for a long time and I was retiring, so I guess I fit the profile,” laughed Manstedt. “It’s a tremendous honor.”

During his 50-year career, Manstedt coached 205 state qualifiers, 55 state finalists, 34 state champions and 61 state medalists.

He was also recently named Nebraska Wrestling Coach of the Year and Section V Coach of the Year for the National Wrestling Coaches Association.

Just because he isn’t going to be coaching anymore, doesn’t mean Manstedt is going to step away from the sport.

He will still organize and coordinate the annual Clarks/High Plains Invitational, considered by many as the best high school meet in the state. It is held every year at Central Community College near Columbus and in 2020 will become known as the Norm Manstedt Invitational.

He will also continue his work with the Nebraska Scholastic Wrestling Coaches Association where he serves as CEO.

And most importantly, stepping away from coaching will give Manstedt a chance to go to wrestling meets as a fan.

“That is what I am really looking forward too. Just going to watch wrestling, as a fan,” Manstedt said.

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