Wasmund takes on a weighty task
Longtime AV assistant will be head wrestling coach
Apple Valley High School hired its new head wrestling coach from within, giving the appearance that it will be business as usual at one of the nation’s most successful programs.
Just don’t tell that to the new coach, Dalen Wasmund. He has coached wrestling for 30 years, including 20 at Apple Valley, and knows the demands of the role he’s taking on.
“The two people who were head coaches here before me are legends,” Wasmund said, referring to Jim Jackson and Bill Demaray. “Those are big shoes to fill.”
Not to mention a lot of institutional knowledge to replace. Jackson, who retired from coaching this spring, led Apple Valley to state championships in 14 of his 17 years as head coach. Although Jackson wouldn’t completely close the door on coaching in the future, he has said he does not anticipate returning at any level.
Demaray was Apple Valley’s head coach from 1976, when the school opened, until 1995, when he stepped down and was replaced by Jackson. His teams won seven state championships. Demaray took one year off from coaching before returning to the Eagles as an assistant and remained in that position through last season. Wasmund said Demaray has told him he will not return as an assistant coach next season.
That meant Wasmund, who was named head coach last week, has been busy speaking with candidates to fill positions on the staff. “Fortunately, I’m finding there are a lot of qualified people,” he said.
Wasmund had two stints as an assistant coach with the Eagles. He was with the program from 1982 until 1990, when he became head coach at Eagan High School. He was the Wildcats’ coach for 10 seasons before returning to Apple Valley as an assistant in 2000, in part because it would allow him to coach his sons in wrestling and football at AVHS. Wasmund is a mathematics teacher at Apple Valley
Wasmund said he had no designs on the head coaching job at Apple Valley. “I wasn’t really looking at it,” he said. “I just thought (Jackson) would be here as long as I was, and we’d retire at the same time.”
He was a two-time state champion at Worthington High School and had a 117-4 record. From there, he wrestled for the University of Minnesota, earning All-America honors twice, and twice was a U.S. Olympic Team alternate.
Wasmund also was named National High School Assistant Wrestling Coach of the Year in 2011.
One of the questions asked most frequently of Wasmund since being named head coach is how he plans to keep the Eagles nationally prominent. Apple Valley was third in the high school national rankings in 2011-12 after winning national titles the previous two years.
For that to continue, the Eagles will need to continue wrestling an ambitious schedule. In recent seasons, the Eagles have wrestled in tournaments almost every weekend during the regular season, some of which took them out of state.
That requires a large amount of fundraising. Jackson told Sun Thisweek Newspapers last month he found fundraising one of the most difficult aspects of being a head coach.
“I believe in a great schedule,” Wasmund said. “The kids like competition, and they realize good competition makes them better.”