By LESLEY TOTH
Mille Lacs County Times
Kris Zimmer has been a familiar face around the Milaca wrestling mat during the past 30 years as her husband, Randy Zimmer, has moved from assistant to head coach and developed a strong program over the decades.
But her experience with the sport goes back even further — even before she met her soon-to-be husband in 1974.
“That’s how I met him,” she said. “I was a cheerleader for wrestling.”
It was Kris’ New Ulm vs. Randy’s Wabasso, back when little towns would compete against their larger neighbors. Upsets weren’t all that common, but neither were they rare. Kris was rooting for the home team, but a chance encounter may have swayed her loyalties.
“That little Wabesso would usually beat us, too,” Kris recalled. “I was really involved in wrestling before I even met him. And he walked out on the mat. We just kind of met and we’ve stayed together.”
Growing up in a high school as the underdog may have prepared “Coach Z” for his position as Milaca wrestling coach. But seeing little Wabasso regularly beat the much larger New Ulm showed “Mrs. Z” just what is possible with a motivator on the team.
And parallels could be drawn between that south-central Minnesota match-up and the contest between Milaca and Big Lake about 10 years ago — a win that propelled underdog Milaca to the state tournament.
“We weren’t supposed to beat them. That was a lot of fun. That young team did so well. It just gave you goose bumps,” she said. “Big Lake didn’t know what hit them.”
For the full story, see the Thursday, March 29 print edition of the Times.