Bob Purcell now a wrestling Hall of Famer
WORTHINGTON -- Former Minnesota West head wrestling coach Bob Purcell, now the school’s men’s athletic director, said getting inducted recently into the NJCAA Wrestling Hall of Fame was hard for him to fathom.
“I didn’t tell a lot of people that I was getting it. Because it just seemed kind of surreal to me,” he said.
On Feb. 24 in connection with the national championships taking place at the Mid-America Center on the campus of Iowa Western Community College, Purcell received his “surreal” honor.
“Made me think of my father, who passed away (14 years ago). It made me think of the work ethic that he instilled in me. You know, he would’ve been proud of this,” said Purcell this week in Worthington.
His wrestling career ultimately began in Carrington, N.D., and later in Bismarck. In Bismarck he competed in junior high school and in his senior year of high school was a state 132-pound champion. He went on to Minnesota State University-Moorhead, where his on-mat career was cut short due to knee injuries.
He became an assistant coach under John Sterner at Moorhead and in 1997 accepted a position with Minnesota West. He coached 22 All-Americans and three times had his Bluejays ranked among the top 10 teams in the nation.
Purcell is a two-time Minnesota College Athletic Conference Coach of the Year. In 2014, he was recognized as the NJCAA wrestling Man of the Year.
At the Hall of Fame awards ceremony, Purcell chose Don Wasmund, his longtime community volunteer assistant coach, to be a presenter of the plaque. “I really kind of felt that he was part of that award,” he said.
An award of that kind, admitted Purcell, can make a man look back in wonder.
“From a kid who grew up thinking he knew everything to a coach who realized that he could have known a lot more,” he pondered. “It’s amazing how that works.”