The Gopher wrestling team spent last Friday touring Washington, D.C. before attending a special ceremony at the White House with President George W. Bush to celebrate their 2007 NCAA Championship. Former Minnesota Athletic Communications staffer Tory Kukowski was right there to document every minute of the action, and gives you a blow-by-blow account of the day’s events.
7:00 a.m. Wake-up call.
7:00-7:45 Team members and staff eat breakfast in hotel lobby.
7:48 Team begins to gather in lobby to wait for bus to arrive.
8:02 Assistant Coach Joe Russell makes it known that he is having his first Mountain Dew in over a year to avoid getting in trouble by his wife, Sadie.
8:08 Team begins boarding the bus.
8:11 While walking to the bus, redshirt freshman Phil Meinert holds senior Gabe Dretsch’s phone up to his ear because Gabe has only enough hands to drink coffee and carry his luggage.
8:16 Bus departs for the Capitol building.
8:18 Redshirt freshman Brandon Sitch drinking some strange concoction of orange juice and Sprite while trying to cut the tag off his brand new suit with a fingernail clipper.
8:26-8:29 Team bus passes D.C. landmarks Thomas Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument en route to the Capitol via Independence Ave.
8:33 Bus stops in front of United States Botanic Garden Conservatory, approximately two blocks from the Capitol building, for a security inspection which includes a K-9 unit sniffing through the undercarriage of the bus
8:38 Team begins to grow restless as the temperature inside the bus reaches approximately 95 degrees with the air conditioning having been shut off.
8:43 Bus restarts and a collective sigh of relief is heard as the AC is restored; team bus is escorted by police to the Capitol drop-off location.
8:45 Team bus arrives at U.S. Capitol building.
8:51 2001 national championship team members Luke Becker, Chad Erikson and Jared Lawrence, making their second trip to D.C., along with Matt Nagel and Assistant Coach Brandon Eggum, gather for a snapshot in front of the Capitol.
8:55 Entire team gathers for a photo in front of the Capitol building; whistle from nearby security guard informs them not to stand on specified ledge.
8:59 Senior Mitch Kuhlman shows off his legs by rolling up his pants in an attempt to alleviate the heat.
9:02 Team is greeted by Paul Sorenson, special assistant to former House Speaker Dennis Hastert and a former wrestler himself, who will serve as the team’s tour guide through the Capitol.
9:07 Team enters Capitol building through the South Door of the U.S. House of Representatives and is required to go through security checkpoint.
9:09 After two unsuccessful attempts through the metal detector, Chad Erikson is frisked with the magic wand.
9:11 Drinking fountain in hallway treated like an oasis in the desert by team members who were still trying to recover from AC outage on the bus.
9:14 Team enters Dennis Hastert’s office; Head Coach J Robinson, Matt Everson, Nate Matousek and various other members of the team take turns sitting in Hastert’s chair and pretend to answer his phone; behind them is a window looking out onto the Capitol lawn where the U.S. President is inaugurated every four years; Joe Russell leaves a copy of Hastert’s autobiography on his desk in order for him to sign is assured it will be returned.
9:30 Team proceeds upstairs into the Rotunda, the center of the Capitol building covered by the majestic dome that reaches 180 feet at its highest point; painting on the roof of the dome is comparative to that of the Sistine Chapel; while team receives a long-winded explanation of the history of the eight expansive painting that line the wall of the Rotunda, staff photographer Alicia Jerome is reprimanded by security guard for leaving her camera bag unattended and receives an array of boos from the entire team.
9:43 Tour proceeds out of Rotunda into Statuory Hall; in this room, which previously served as the House Chamber, each of the 50 states is represented by two statues of famous pioneers from their respective state’s history; the highlight of Statuory Hall is a demonstration of the Whispering Chamber, a specific location of the room in which sound bounces off the ceiling directly to a location on the other side of the room this was used by former Representative and the sixth President of our nation, John Quincy Adams to spy on the opposite party.
10:01 Team is required to go through security again prior to entering the House Gallery, which overlooks the House Chamber, the headquarters of the House of Representatives where the President gives the State of the Union address every year; no cameras or cell phones are allowed in this room, and taking notes was prohibited sometime during the 1940’s, someone somehow snuck a gun into the House Chamber because they had photos and documentation of the locations of all security cameras two bullet holes still visible within the Chamber were never removed to serve as a reminder.
10:29 Team exits Capitol Building; much to the amazement of many team members, the white stickers they were required to wear in the Capitol turn blue when in contact with direct sunlight another security measure preventing patrons who leave the Capitol from trying to come back in. Team gathers for more photos on Capitol lawn.
10:50 Bus departs for Pentagon; team receives royalty treatment with a police escort that allows them to circumvent D.C. traffic.
10:58 Bus arrives at Pentagon in astounding time a trip that normally would have taken somewhere between 20-30 minutes.
11:03 Team enters the Pentagon, the world’s largest low-rise office building which measures approximately three times the size of the famous Empire State Building in New York in terms of square footage. The building serves as the headquarters for the U.S. Department of Defense and each branch of the military; over 23,000 employees work in the Pentagon, including approximately 12,000 military officers.
11:07 Minnesota Army Reserve members Jeremy Larson and Jason Waidzulis, and National Guard member Matt Everson, along with various other members of the team, gather for photos in front of Pentagon podium.
11:29 Strength and conditioning coach Bob Rohde is reprimanded by security guard for taking a photo of guards at the Pentagon entrance again, a preventative measure to avoid disclosure of information regarding their location.
11:48 Team visits the Pentagon’s 9/11 Memorial, quite an emotional sight and the highlight of the tour for many.
12:07 After walking 1.5 miles, the length of the Pentagon tour, many team members are feeling the effects on their legs.
12:22 Administrative specialist Mary Christensen-White hops on one of the four police motorcycles which are escorting the team bus for a photo opportunity.
12:31 Humble two-time national champion heavyweight Cole Konrad distributes box lunches to team members on the bus; Konrad comes up one box short, however, and ironically is the odd-man-out without a lunch. Trent Hatlevig kindly offers to share half of his sandwich.
12:50 Bus departs the Pentagon for the White House, escorted again by police motorcade.
12:58 Bus arrives at White House, not before having to stop at another security checkpoint in which a K-9 unit again goes through the undercarriage of the bus.
1:13 Nate Matousek struggles to button the top button of Mike Thorn’s two-sizes-too-small’ shirt as the team waits outside the White House.
1:29 After going through security, the team enters the White House with their first stop on the tour in the House Library.
1:53 Team gathers for a photo in the Blue Room, the official reception room of the White House where the President and First Lady traditionally greet all of their guests; also the room where the official White House Christmas tree is displayed during the holiday season.
1:59 Tour proceeds to the Red Room.
2:03 Team enters the State Dining Room, the official dining room of the White House
2:14 Support staff required to separate from the rest of team and coaching staff and are escorted to the White House lawn
~ 2:30 President George W. Bush meets team and coaching staff for group photo.
2:30-3:00 Crowd gathers on White House lawn.
2:45 Media allowed onto lawn.
3:01 2007 National Champion Minnesota Wrestling Team announced to crowd and enters the White House lawn while the President’s reception band plays the Minnesota Rouser.
3:26 Team captain Cole Konrad and representatives from the other seven national championship teams present are introduced to the crowd and arrive at podium in front of the entire crowd.
3:27 The President of the United States is introduced.
3:27-3:35 President addresses the teams and crowd; begins by stating: “I am honored to be standing here today among some of our nation’s finest student-athletes.” Message to the teams centers around setting an example for other people, saying: “The same dedication required to be successful in sports is what you need to be an excellent person in life.”
3:34 President directly addresses the Minnesota wrestling team, referring to them as the “mighty Golden Gophers”; ends his remarks by saying: “I appreciate how you guys work hard, train hard, and as we say in Texas Out-wrastle em’!”
3:36 President concludes speech and poses for a photo with the team captains.
3:37 President shakes Cole’s hand and jokingly lowers his head as if to shoot for a takedown.
3:38 President exits the stage.
3:40 Team gathers for a photo on the podium before leaving the White House.
3:55 Junior Tyler Safratowich stops for a photo with a fully armed security guard just inside the White House gates.
3:58 Team begins to board bus.
4:03 Athletics Director Joel Maturi, Head Coach J Robinson and Cole Konrad meet with WCCO’s Mike Max, who made the trip to Washington, for reaction interviews outside the White House gates.
4:11 Bus departs White House, this time without a police escort, forcing the team to actually have to deal with real traffic.
4:21 Bus drops the team off at the Lincoln Memorial.
4:30-5:30 Members of the team are free to roam memorial park, with the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial and Korean War Memorial all within walking distance.
5:32 Memorable day is complete, as the team boards the bus to depart for Reagan National Airport.D.C. STATSPinstripes (in no particular order):
Jason Waidzulis, Cole Konrad, Nate Matousek, C.P. Schlatter, Scott Glasser, Chris McPhail, Yura Malamura.Tan/Gray:
Jayson Ness, Dustin Schlatter, Joel Maturi, Brent Eidenschink, Chad Erikson, Danny Williams, Tyler Safratowich.Best-Dressed:
Scott Glasser, Trent Hatlevig, Jayson Ness, Joe Russell, Manny Rivera, Cole Konrad.Worst-Dressed:
Brent Eidenschink, Roger Kish, Dustin Schlatter.
Quote of the Day:
“We are important. Please stop and look at us.” Trent Hatlevig en route from the Pentagon to the White House as pedestrians took notice of the team bus as it was escorted by police.Line of the Day:
“Oh, come on!” Rowan Morgan, son of Head Assistant Coach Marty Morgan, after waiting approximately 45 minutes on the White House lawn for the President to arrive.
Be sure to check out mndaily.com for another account of the Minnesota’s D.C. trip over at mndaily.com and come watch the Gophers on Dec. 10 when they open their home season against Iowa State!