Remarkable run ends for kingpin wrestling coach

  • Article by: BRIAN STENSAAS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 2, 2012 - 12:05 AM

After leading Apple Valley to 14 state championships, Jim Jackson is resigning to spend more time with his family.

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Jim Jackson is resigning after leading Apple Valley to 14 wrestling state championships and having 56 of his wrestlers earn individual state titles.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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An unprecedented 56 wrestlers at Apple Valley High School have won individual state championships since Jim Jackson took over as head coach for the 1995-96 season.

That number includes four this winter. Ten of the 13 Eagles wrestlers who qualified for this year's Class 3A state meet -- and helped the team win a seventh consecutive team title -- are eligible to return.

But three weeks ago Jackson, who compiled a 619-26-3 record -- by far the best winning percentage in state history -- took his sixth-grade daughter to a regional tennis event in Rochester.

"She looked at me and said, 'We get to do something that's not about Daddy's wrestling,'" Jackson said. "That sealed it.''

On Tuesday Jackson announced his resignation after 32 years of coaching at Apple Valley. Time to watch his only child play in as many tennis events as possible.

"It was a tough decision but it was the right decision,'' he said. "It's been a great run but it's time to be a full-time father."

Jackson and Apple Valley Athletic Director Pete Buesgens had coached wrestling together until Buesgens took the AD job three years ago. Each time the topic about continuing to coach has come up, they have slyly joked about Jackson staying on "three or four more years."

Buesgens said Jackson began mulling his decision for real shortly after this season. Jackson amped it up last week and called him with the news Monday.

After being part of 20 state championships -- 14 since he took over as head coach -- and a pair of national titles, Jackson felt comfortable calling it a coaching career. Jackson, 55, will continue to teach physical education at Falcon Ridge Middle School in Apple Valley.

"I keep saying this is a sad day," Buesgens said. "I'm sad for our program, and I'm sad for our kids. But I am happy for him."

Jackson insists his coaching days are over for good, though he did say he likely would have input on selecting a new coach.

Buesgens said the search begins immediately and that he expects a significant pool of applicants before the May 25 deadline.

"I said to our principal, 'Who would want this job? Where do you go from here?'" Buesgens said jokingly. "But I know it will be appealing. Whether that person is on staff right now or outwards, it will be a great opportunity."

Brian Stensaas • 612-673-4127

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