Early-game fist pumps turned to sagging shoulders as Duluth East’s Class 4A quarterfinal game against Osseo dragged on Wednesday at Target Center. The loss against the Orioles put an end to the Greyhounds’ season, which turned an already trying week sour to the core.
Coach Chuck Tolo kept the locker room door closed for nearly 15 minutes after the game. He eventually emerged, still wearing the black t-shirt with the name and number 32 of his suspended 7-foot center he donned all afternoon.
Akolda Manyang allegedly violated a Minnesota State High School League rule that kept him out of the Section 7 playoffs. Tolo accompanied him to an appeal with Duluth East administration on Monday.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Tolo said he still had yet to hear any information on the ruling.
“I believe that is very unprofessional,” said Tolo, who also used the words “awful,” “wrong” and “bizarre” during a lengthy postgame session with the media. “It’s just not the way you do things with kids. If somebody would have just said what’s going on – tell the kids. Tell us. Just be straight with us so we can be able to move on.
“Kids deserve the right to know the situation they’re in.”
Tolo insisted the t-shirts players and coaches wore on the bench Wednesday were not a protest, unlike the five Greyhounds players who refused to accept section championship medals last week.
“The kids wanted to make sure [Manyang] was here,” Tolo said. The veteran coach paused to collect his emotions at least twice during the interview with reporters.
While Duluth East’s season is over, this issue is not. Still unknown is the eligibility of Manyang – who is an 18-year-old junior – going forward.
Tolo was adamant Manyang be allowed to gradate next spring.
“I don’t care if I have to fight my own school district,” Tolo said. “I’m going to make sure the truth is known.”
Tolo was asked if Manyang isn’t back next year if would he return as coach.
“I’m so disillusioned with the system I’m in right now that I don’t even know if they want me back,” he said.