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Former Clarissa High School graduate to be inducted into wrestling hall of fame

by Scott Thoma

Editor’s Note: This article is about a former Clarissa High School graduate. The article is reprinted with permission from The Minneota Mascot, Thursday, April 22, 2021 issue.

Former longtime Minneota Wrestling Coach Joel Skillings will be inducted in the Dave Bartelma Minnesota High School Coaches Association Wrestling Hall of Fame.

“I am honored and I am humbled because it is something that’s recognized by your peers,” said Skillings.

Because last year’s ceremony was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic that banquet was held May 24 in Benson, while this year’s banquet is scheduled for October 30 in Benson.

Skillings was given a choice if he would rather be inducted in May or October.

“I chose October because Christian (his son who currently lives and works in China) will be home then,” Skillings noted.

“I got a call telling me I was going into the Hall of Fame a while ago,” he said. “But I didn’t run around town telling everyone about it.”

Skillings coached Minneota for 31 seasons and compiled an impressive 559-174-4 record, including a Class A state team championship in 2015 before stepping down two years ago. His victory total is No. 8 all-time in Minnesota for all classes.

Skillings was also named the Class A Coach of the Year in 2013 and 2015 during his career. He was also chosen Minnesota Coach of the Year for all classes in 2015.

After stepping down as a high school wrestling coach following the 2019 season, he joined the Southwest Minnesota State University wrestling staff.

He retired as a high school physical education instructor at Minneota last year.

“For me, I am still coaching and (being inducted) isn’t the finishing point of my career,” Skillings said. “This honor wouldn’t have happened without all the kids and the wonderful people I’ve met. And most important, I owe a lot to my family, who has been through it all with me.

“It’s a reflection of all the kids I got to work with, all the friends I’ve met along the way, and my family who has been through it all with me.”

Skillings will be inducted along with: Tom Campanaro, Contributor; Mark Costello, Athlete; Tom Gravalin, Coach; Gary Heydt, Contributor; and Don Krusemark, Coach.


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