Bryce Kirchner spent a good chunk of the week in a deer stand near the family cabin in Woodland (that’s between Mora and Isle for those not well-versed in unincorporated villages in Kanabec County).
“You basically just sit there and be cold,” he said.
You also have plenty of time to think.
Weighing his very good options, the St. Cloud Apollo senior decided to commit to St. Cloud State to continue his wrestling career.
Kirchner, a 5-foot-11, 255-pounder, passed up opportunities at Minnesota State-Moorhead and Southwest Minnesota State to choose the Huskies.
The Huskies have emerged as one of the top programs in Division II and being a part of that appeals to Kirchner, who finished fifth in the state Class 3A meet last season at 220. It was his second straight state appearance. SCSU can win a national title. The Huskies have finished second the past three years in a row.
“They expect nothing less,” he said. “A lot of teams just want to get to the (national) tournament and then go from there.
“(The Huskies) want the national championship.”
But it was more than that.
“For school, it’s exactly what I wanted,” Kirchner said.
He plans to major in education working toward a degree in the learning disabled program. It’s a passion for him and made the decision to submit a signed national letter of intent to SCSU all that much easier.
“I’ve always been good with kids,” he said. “People have told me it would be a perfect job for me.”
Kirchner visited all three schools and said that MSU-Moorhead was hard to turn down because he really liked the coach.
“It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make,” he said. I loved Moorhead. Coach (Kris) Nelson is a class guy ….
“I really liked (head coach) Steve (Costanzo) and (assistant) Brady (Wilson), too. They are really good guys. St. Cloud State has a great education program. It’s in the top 10 in the country. And a huge thing is I’ll be able to watch my brother and sister in their activities. I’d love to make it to some more Apollo games.”
Bryce is the oldest of Tony and Michele Kirchner’s three children. His brother Brett is an eighth-grader at North Junior High. His sister Heather is a sixth-grader at Kennedy Community School in St. Joseph.
Kirchner just wrapped a successful four years on the varsity football team at Apollo, helping lead the Eagles to a Central Lakes Conference South Division championship and a top seed in the Section 8-5A playoffs as a lineman.
He said he had some football offers, but wanted to stick with wrestling. He’s a relative newcomer to the sport, first going out as a ninth-grader.
It has kind of grown on him.
“I love it,” he said.
Kirchner returns to a wrestling program that loses three outstanding seniors: Mitch Bentgson, Grant Nehring and Matt Braun. He figures the Eagles will be a lot younger and inexperienced, but he’s looking forward to the challenge as a captain.
And as for deer hunting? He shot three does, enough to fill up a freezer or two with the meat.
The quiet time in the woods helped him make a big decision.
“I was basically 90 percent sure what I wanted to after my second visit to St. Cloud State,” he said. “I just wanted to make sure I made the right choice and that I had no regrets.”