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College wrestling: Honored with national award, Purcell is still going strong

WORTHINGTON — Fresh off hip replacement surgery and after 17 years on the job as the Minnesota West Community and Technical College head wrestling coach, Bob Purcell looks like a new man.

Maybe his national award has something to do with that.

Just before the 2014 national tournament finals in Spokane, Wash., Purcell was honored with the National Junior College Athletic Association Man of the Year Award. The award recognized Purcell for his work with the NJCAA Hall of Fame, and for the character that has been developed over several decades.

Purcell, a former high school wrestling champion at Bismarck Central in Bismarck, N.D., who went on to compete at Minnesota State University-Moorhead, was an Army combat medic for four years and an instructor for the American Red Cross. For six years he helped as national cadet coach for Team Minnesota freestyle wrestling. He was an assistant coach for five years at Moorhead before becoming head coach at Minnesota West.

The award, said Purcell on Wednesday, “means that my peers think I’m doing the right things — that I’m representing the sport of wrestling. It’s an honor.”

The longtime Bluejay coach said the award didn’t really sink in until coaches he competed against shook his hand and congratulated him, expressing their belief that he is deserving of the honor.

On Wednesday, Purcell said the hip replacement went well. Recruiting for the 2014-15 wrestling season has gone well, too, and he hopes to coach for a few more years.

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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