Run-up to state wrestling meet featured hair-altering hoopla in Pelican Rapids
It was a big, hairy deal in Pelican Rapids last week, with two young wrestlers preparing for a trip to the big show; at the Minnesota state high school wrestling tournament.
Hair was dyed; hair was cut; hair was shaved; hair was trimmed…hair was everywhere at the Pelican Rapids high school campus.
Blonde hair, black hair, brown hair, gray hair. It was like a scene from a Vaudeville dressing room. More appropriately, perhaps, the backstage preparations for a World Wrestling Federation smackdown.
Somewhere along the line, Americans determined that an effective motivational tool in preparing fine young men and women for the field of athletic competition was public humiliation–usually by cutting or chemically altering their hair, in front of peers, classmates, teammates and parents.
It’s a peculiar tradition; but decidedly more wholesome, appropriate–and legal– than performance enhancing drugs.
As this bizarre trend evolved, it became only fair, just and righteous that the coaches be subjected to the same treatment.
All of which was fine with Jessica Kulsrud, who smiled with sadistic glee as she pulled clippers, scissors and magic elixirs from her goodie bag of cosmetology tricks.
Hair stylist Kulsrud delighted in running her grooming gear across the head of numskulled male victims –like pushing a Lawn Boy across football turf. What woman wouldn’t?
Head coach Harold Holt and assistant Aaron Kapenga were the first victims.
Mercifully, they were subjected to this embarrassment in the relative privacy of Holt’s history classroom. The audience numbered only a couple dozen students and adults.
There, beneath the dignified portraits of George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, Holt’s silver-gray hair was blackened to prepubescent, prehistoric ebony.
By the time Kulsrud was finished with Kapenga, his platinum blonde personage resembled a cross between All Star wrestlers Gorgeous George, Larry “Pretty Boy” Henning and Hulk Hogan –minus the physique and the bravado.
Never has there been such a disorienting episode at the very foot of three of the greatest United States presidents.
Well, at least not since January of 2017 when President Donald Trump strolled through the White House portrait gallery.
Add some khaki fatigues; a bush hat; a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles; and a holstered revolver; old coach Holt’s youngish hair color and wide, toothy smile resembled a vigorous Teddy Roosevelt himself –on the verge of a charge up San Juan Hill.
Others, less complimentary, saw a resemblance between Harold Holt and Fred Flintstone.
Imagine Fred Flintstone’s sidekick, Barney Rubble …with a mohawk. That was assistant wrestling coach Dylan Evenson’s fate, after Kulsrud completed her handiwork.
Like bumbling Barney, Evenson fumbled around with his cell phone and overlooked the text memo requesting he show up for the big hairy deal on Tuesday, Feb. 27. Consequently, he missed the scalp alteration session in the seclusion of Holt’s history classroom.
His penalty for such truancy?
A public shaving and shaming Feb. 28 in front of the entire Pelican Rapids High School faculty, staff and student body.
A formidable wrestler himself, who went to the mats for Pelican at the state wrestling tournaments in 2006 and 2007, Evenson met a fate similar to many other exceptional athletes. After the glory days are over, they wind up in the spotlight–theatrically body-slamming, forearm smashing and rope jumping on opponents; in front of rabid fans at staged pro wrestling matches.
In Evenson’s case, he instead found himself…distinguished, legitimate wrestling career a fading memory…seated center stage…apron around his neck…providing comic relief for hundreds of spectators…in his old school…his hometown…in front of his old teachers…with his hair partly shaven; partly formed into a pyramid.
With mohawk, Evenson was vaguely similar to one-half of the old “Road Warriors” tough guy, pro wrestling tag team–minus the tattoos and body piercings. But with Evenson’s familiar, boyish grin, the assistant coach resembled a considerably less angry character. Like… a taller Barney Rubble…with a Halloween hair get-up.
With the coaches so prominently in the spotlight, the real stars of the day almost became a sideshow.
Senior Carson Haugrud was preparing for his second, and last, trip to the state wrestling meet. Underclassman, sophomore Matt Ziebell was gearing for his first of what could bo three trips to the state meet.
Of course, the young athletes didn’t get off that easy.
In front of a bleacher-full of spectators, mothers Tina Haugrud and Rachel Ziebell were called to the floor. Under orders from Coach Holt, the moms proceeded to fashion their sons’ hair with Viking color barrets and accessories.
For Tina, it was one last payback opportunity before son Carson graduates and goes off to college next fall, at Northern State in Aberdeen, SD.
For Rachel, a wrestling mom blessed with three boys in the program–Johnny, Matt and Noah –she no doubt hopes to have more opportunities to embarrass the lads over the next few years, when the state high school wrestling meet rolls around.