By Doug Wolter
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 is a former high school wrestling champion for Bismarck Central in Bismarck, N.D. He 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 Purcell 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.