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The Wrestling World of Manville

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Updated: August 14, 2017

Photos: This has been quite a summer for David and Susan Manville (center), who saw two of their three sons — Mason (left) and Carson (right) — respectively, qualify for the Senior World Greco-Roman team and won both freestyle and Greco titles at both the Cadet Pan Ams and Cadet Nationals.

By Mike Finn

Susan Manville knows not everyone agrees with how she and her husband, David, have made wrestling such a priority in the lives of their three sons, Mason, Carson and Pierson.

“Some people think we are crazy because we do so much wrestling,” she said. “We have three kids at three different levels and we’ve been able to stay together and not separate. This has allowed us to be a close-knit family.

“The family that wrestles together, stays together.”

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And they also win together as has been the case this past spring and summer, which began in April when Mason, 20, earned a spot on the 2017 UWW Senior World Championships Team at 75 kilos … even though he would be young enough to still compete on the Junior level.

Meanwhile, 15-year-old Carson, coming off titles in both freestyle and Greco-Roman at the 2017 Cadet World Championships in Argentina in early July did the same thing at the recent United States Marine Corps/USAW Cadet Nationals in Fargo, N.D.

And watching nearly all of the action of his older brothers has been 12-year-old Pierson, who had no trouble expressing what he’s learned from Mason and Carson.

“I think they are doing great with what they are doing,” said Pierson. “They are just doing the plan that our family started.”

It wasn’t until Mason turned four that David and Susan, whose home is Lorton, Va., eventually found the greatest opportunities all over the country for their sons to wrestle: Mason competed at Apple Valley (Minn.) High School, Blair Academy (N.J.) and Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) and spent the past year training at the Olympic Training Center before he starts his college career at Penn State this fall; and Carson won a Minnesota state championship as an eighth grader this past winter at Shakopee High School.

“It’s what I do,” said Mason in 2012 when he won the first of two Cadet championships and added a Junior title in 2014. “It’s how I sacrifice myself to God. I take every match as a living sacrifice.

“This is my life. It’s important to me so I might as well go all in.”

Mason knew back then that not everyone could handle living away from such a close-knit family.

“I think it’s a mental thing,” Mason added. “You choose, you’re the one who decides what’s important. You’re the one who decides what provides you meaning. I decided that this would be my importance and I went for it.”

Carson understands the plan.

“It’s important because some day I want to wrestle in the Olympics. I want to go as far as I can,” said Carson, who also credited Mason for strong words of advice before arriving in Fargo.

“I just learned from him that you have to be smart all the time, no matter what and stick to your game plan,” said Carson, who moved up to 132 pounds after winning the Pan-Am titles at 126.

This philosophy is one the parents started sharing while Susan and David — now retired after 26 years of being in the military — were first stationed in Germany as a married couple.

“We discussed it a long time ago when we said, ‘You can’t say you want your kid to be the best if you are not willing to make a sacrifice yourselves,” said Susan. “We sacrificed a lot and try to get together as much as we can.”

The Manville boys have not won every time they’ve stepped on the mat, including Carson, who came up short qualifying in both freestyle and Greco for the 2017 Cadet Worlds.

That’s when David reminds his sons that wrestling is just part of the package of life he and Susan have provided.

“They have purpose,” said David, who served as Carson’s coach in Fargo. “Every thing in life is bigger and broader than them.

“Character is really important. Integrity in terms of what we expect of them in the classroom and what we expect of them with any figure of authority and what we expect of them on the mat.”

David makes no excuses or justifications to how he and Susan have raised their sons.

“I’m retired military of 26 years so we have the latitude to live where we want,” David said. “One of the freedoms I fought for was to make sure we had that freedom.

“There has been great sacrifice. Our kids work really hard. That’s one of the secrets. There will be fun along the way, but they have to work hard at having fun too.”

David, who wrestled in college and created a club in Virginia, takes the same approach to how he coaches his sons.

“I teach a system of wrestling,” he said. “I do not make it up and it works. We vary off it a little bit, but the system works.”

Traveling all over the world has also been common for the boys.

“By the time Mason was four years old, he had been to about 15 different countries,” said Susan. “He was well-traveled as a four-year old. It was easy when we were in Germany. We’d go to a different country every weekend.”

And ironically, Mason will return to Europe this month for the Senior Worlds in Paris. Unfortunately, not all the Manville can make the trip.

“I’m the only one going,” said Susan. “Someone’s got to stay home.”

She also said it would be sad to see the Cadet and Junior Nationals, which has been held in Fargo since 1993, not return.

“The people here do such a good job,” she said. “It’s tradition and there’s a lot to be said about traditions.”

Especially the Manville traditions.

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