Wrestling Coach of the Year: Doug DeWald
Doug DeWald, LeRoy
Why: A former high school state champion in Iowa, DeWald coached eight athletes to state, including five who earned medals in Class 1A. One week later, he guided the second-ranked Panthers to the dual-team state championship, starting with a 27-24 quarterfinal win over No. 1-rated Wilmington. His team was 27-1 in duals this year and 118-15 during his six-year tenure.
Season highlight: "This season will be a season I will never forget. This group of seniors are very special to me. They set the bar pretty high for the next generation of kids that will come through. When I look back on my time with them, it's their willingness to do the things necessary on a daily basis to reach their potential. That involves a lot of different things. They understood the balance between athletics, academics, and their social lives. They were willing to sacrifice some things that most high school students just won't. And, of course, they were tough, tough kids. They wrestled through pain and injury. They were able to come back from adversity and they wrestled with a chip on their shoulder. They believed in always putting the program first and, from a coaching standpoint, that is something I always admired and respected them for. To finally bust through and win (state) is something I'm very grateful for. I am very honored and humbled to have been able to be a part of it. It wasn't always sunshine and rainbows, but I wouldn't change any one situation that we went through together for anything in the world. It was a very fitting way for them to go out as champions," DeWald said.
A few of my favorite things: Ryne Sandberg ... Chevy Trailblazer ... Scheels Sporting Goods ... Seinfeld ... The Departed ... Mamma Nicks Pizza, Waterloo, Iowa ... Ireland and Jamaica ... Bucket list wishes, to go to an Olympic Games, get a master's degree and win another state title
About Coach DeWald: "I've never had a coach willing to do so much for us. He cares about us outside of the sport and talks about why it's not just about wrestling. He pushes his athletes and understands when to chew someone out and when they need a pick-me-up. He's good at not over-praising. He emphasized that everybody is as important as the next guy and created team unity. He definitely has strategies that he invokes. In the state semifinals my junior year, I was losing 6-2 and was ready to give up going into the third period. I heard his voice about what to do and scored three takedowns to win." — Senior state 138-pound runner-up Justin Meyers, who plans to enroll at Northwestern and hopes to join the Wildcats' wrestling team as a walkon.