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Jeff Kolpack, Published July 23 2010

Vasquez learning the volunteer ropes

The men and women in blue shirts run the show at the USA Wrestling Junior and Cadet national tournaments. But it takes people of all ages running around the Fargodome to actually make it work.

They are called volunteers and that factor was the No. 1 concern for USA Wrestling organizers before the week started. And the man on the spot?

He is new volunteer coordinator Domonic Vasquez. He’s 25 years old, an assistant wrestling coach at Fargo South for the past six years and new to a position that requires managing between 400 and 500 people.

“They were wondering: ‘Is he going to be able to handle it?’” Vasquez said.

After five days, the fears have been squashed.

“It was a definite concern of mine,” said Pete Isais, the director of national events for USA Wrestling.

The tournament is heading into its last couple of days with the Cadet freestyle championships today and the Junior freestyle and Junior women’s freestyle finals on Saturday. It will wrap up the 19th year the event has been at the Fargodome.

John Nelson and Ken Tinquist handled the volunteer chair the previous nine years. Before that, it was Keith Kerbaugh. Vasquez accepted the responsibility last spring and it wasn’t long before the severity of the job hit him.

“Not until I got my list to start calling people and it was 12 pages thick with about 30 numbers on each page,” he said. “Once I got that, I’m thinking I might be in a little bit of trouble.”

But Vasquez enlisted the help of wrestling friends Dusty Swanson and Keenan Spiess. On Thursday, the 23 mats on the Fargodome floor were full of runners, tappers and timers.

Vasquez also has 10 to 15 people waiting for relief, such as parents from out of town who want to help, but also watch their child wrestle.

“It gets a little stressful at times when you think someone’s coming in and they don’t or if you’re short somewhere,” Vasquez said. “But a lot of people have been really good to us as far as showing up or coming back to work extra shifts and really helping us out.”

It’s worked well enough, anyway, to where Vasquez will make an encore next year.

“I’m planning on it,” he said. “I’m not too burned out right now.”

Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the WDAY Golf Show, 10-11 a.m. on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia