MWCA 2024 Lifetime Achievement Coaches

Each year, the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association recognizes coaches who are at or near retirement from coaching. This year’s Lifetime Achievement coaches are Dennis Benz of Rock Ridge High School, Brian Bos of Pipestone Area High School, Mark Madigan of Simley High School, and Craig Nasvik of White Bear Lake Area High School.

Mwca Lifetime Achievement Coaches 2024
MWCA 2024 Lifetime Achievement honorees Craig Nasvik of White Bear Lake Area, Dennis Benz of Rock Ridge, Brian Bos of Pipestone Area, and Mark Madigan of Simley.

Coach profiles by Bill Schmidt

Craig Nasvik – White Bear Lake Area High School

Craig Nasvik, son of Robert and Mary Nasvik, was born and raised through fourth grade in Delano, Minnesota, along with older siblings Bob, Cherie, and Tony, and younger brother Jim. Craig’s father was in the advertising business, and his mom was a realtor. The family moved to Fort Dodge, Iowa, when Craig was in fifth grade. Craig, the only wrestler in the family, started in the Delano youth program and continued wrestling through junior high at Fort Dodge. They moved again, this time to Hudson, Wisconsin when Craig was an eighth grader. Throughout high school, Nasvik participated in football, wrestling, and track & field. Craig was an All-State Football player and qualified for the state wrestling tournaments in his junior and senior years. There was a heavyweight by the name of Tim Krumrie from Mondovi that was tough for Nasvik (or anyone else for that matter) to get past. Craig did have an opportunity to play on the same team as Krumrie in the Wisconsin All-Star Football game the summer following his senior year. Nasvik was also a track & field standout, participating in the discus and shot-put events. Craig was named the Hudson Male Athlete of the Year in 1979.

After high school, Nasvik enrolled at the U of M, Duluth, played football under Jim Malosky, and wrestled for Neil Ladsten. Craig injured his knee in his sophomore year of wrestling and was informed by Coach Malosky that his scholarship was in football and that his wrestling days were over. Nasvik continued to excel in football, serving as a captain his senior year. His Duluth football team went 36-4 in his four years on the squad, garnering three Conference Titles and one Runner-up finish. While working on his Physical Education Degree, Craig started dating a softball player named Julie Olson. Nasvik earned a Master’s Degree from Northern State and his Adapted Licensure from Mankato State, during which time he married the hot softball player.

Nasvik was hired as a full-time substitute teacher at St. Paul Park and served as assistant football coach at Park and head wrestling and head track & field coach at Woodbury while also working as the District Equipment Manager.

In 1986, Craig was hired to teach Physical Education at White Bear Lake, taking over as Head Golf Coach in 1988 and Head Wrestling in 1989. He served as an assistant in football until 2005 when he stepped out to spend more time with his kids as they were coming through high school. During that time, he coached the White Bear Lake adapted soccer team, with many of his adapted students on the team. It was a blast coaching these young men and women, as their enthusiasm was contagious.

Craig returned to the football program in 2012, coaching at the freshman level. Nasvik also really enjoyed coaching golf, with two White Bear state titles during his tenure.

As Naz looks back on his 39 years of coaching wrestling, he feels blessed to have had the opportunity to work with so many outstanding student-athletes. His White Bear teams’ overall dual meet record was 467-412-6, with four teams qualifying for the state wrestling tournament, 117 Individual state qualifiers, 21 place-winners, and one two-time state champion, Donny Longendike. Craig was voted section Coach of the Year five times and served for 25 years as Section Rep. He is finishing up his second stint on the MWCA Advisory Board.

Naz is very grateful to all of the outstanding coaches he participated under and coached with. He is especially indebted to Dave Meuwissen, his longtime assistant coach and loyal friend at White Bear Lake. He is thankful for the love and support of his wife Julie, who has taught Physical Education at White Bear for the past 18 years after starting out in the west metro area, as well the support and enjoyment provided by his four boys – Steve, Peter, Jack, and Joe – all three-sport athletes at White Bear Lake – who have provided seven awesome grandchildren for Craig and Julie to dote on.

And finally, a huge THANK YOU goes out to the entire White Bear Lake community and the Minnesota wrestling community for making the past 39 years an honor and a pleasure for Naz. It is hard to walk away from that type of support, but Father Time has spoken.

Dennis Benz – Rock Ridge High School

Dennis Benz, son of Jerald and Grace Benz, was born and raised in Hibbing, Minnesota, along with two brothers and two sisters. His dad worked in the iron mines, and his mom worked various jobs outside of the home. They also had a farm with 90+ head of beef cattle and various other livestock, so there was never any lack of work.

Dennis played football and basketball up through his Freshman year at Hibbing, but had a couple of brothers who wrestled. When Dennis finished his basketball practice, he would go to the wrestling room and watch the end of wrestling practice before the boys would get picked up by the activities bus to go home. The basketball season was coming to an end, and Dennis went down to the wrestling room only to find out the Bemidji wrestling bus was going to be late for the home wrestling meet, and some of the Virginia JV wrestlers had to go home. Wayne Johnson approached Dennis, said he was missing some JV Wrestlers, and asked Dennis if he wanted to fill in. Dennis said OK, and the rest was history. Dennis finished his High School career as a football player and a wrestler.

After graduating from Hibbing High School in 1979, Dennis went to work in the iron mines as a millwright. When the Iron Industry took a downturn in 1982, Dennis was laid off and decided to go to school and earn a degree in Criminology. Wayne Johnson again approached Dennis and asked if he would be interested in helping out in the wrestling room as an assistant while he finished his degree. He was hired by the Virginia Police Department in 1987 as a patrolman and soon was promoted to Sergeant, then to Investigator, and finally to Police Chief. Dennis started one of the very first DARE Programs in the State of Minnesota. He was subsequently assigned as the area Drug Force Commander. Shortly after he retired from the Police Chief Position, he was asked to take over as interim Fire Chief until they could fill the position permanently.

During this time, Benz served as assistant wrestling coach to Wayne Johnson at Hibbing and then as an assistant for Rick Erickson at Virginia (17 years) when his kids came through the program. He went back to Hibbing to assist Kurt Johnson (who he had coached many years earlier) and, after a few years, came back to Virginia to serve as Head Wrestling Coach. It was tough sledding at first, but before long, Dennis started to bring the program back with help from his son Garrett. As Garrett went on to explain, “Many of these kids were from hard-working families who didn’t have a lot of money. My dad picked kids up and delivered them back home on a daily basis. It did not matter whether they were the best wrestler on the team or a beginner – whatever they needed to keep wrestling was gonna get done.” Garrett soon joined in – many times, both vehicles were packed with kids who needed a ride home after practice or a meet. The program began to grow and get better. Sending kids to the State tournament was always a thrill for coaches and wrestlers alike. But the big payoff for Dennis came when he saw what happened after the wrestling was all done. Many times in his job as a policeman, he ran across boys who were headed for big trouble – he knew if he could get them to wrestle, he could get them straightened out. Garrett continued, “My dad can tell you where his former wrestlers are living, what they are doing for a job, and how their lives are going. Former wrestlers are constantly coming up to my dad after wrestling meets, at the store, or on the street just to thank him for changing their lives.”

Dennis is currently the Head Wrestling Coach at Rock Ridge, a coop of Virginia-Eveleth-Gilbert and Mountain Iron. They have a new building with an amazing state-of-the-art wrestling room. Dennis has an outstanding staff made up of his son, Garrett, former wrestler Matt Strawser, and some great young volunteers. Dennis was planning to retire in the next couple of years, as the program is in good hands, but may have to hang in there until his grandsons are through wrestling.

Dennis and his wife Sheryl, who recently retired from her job as Vice-President at a local bank (45 years), have three sons and eight grandchildren. Son Dustin, a two-time state place-winner who went on to wrestle at NDSU, has three daughters. Son Garrett, who was a four-time state qualifier, placing 3rd twice, has three boys, and son John, who played basketball, has two daughters.

One of Dennis and Sheryl’s grandsons – Grant – has a medical condition that he has dealt with since birth, requiring over 50 surgeries on all parts of his body throughout his young life, and he not only functions, he wrestles! And is competitive, going 26-19 this past season as a junior. For “The Rest of the Story,” read the full article authored by Brian Jerzak.

When Garrett was asked what his dad’s strengths were as a wrestling coach, he re-iterated, “Dennis Benz loves the sport of wrestling and cares deeply for kids, not just the top wrestlers, but every kid on the team, and is willing to go above and beyond for every one of them—because he knows in his heart that there is not another sport on the planet that prepares a kid for life like the sport of wrestling.”

Brian Bos – Pipestone Area High School

Brian Bos was born and raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He decided to go out for wrestling as a seventh grader along with one of his best friends. Brian attended Wilson Junior High School, which had both basketball and wrestling as winter sports and employed a split season. Brian took a few lumps in seventh and eighth grade but started showing improvement as a ninth grader under coach Dan Reyner and was a Ninth Grade City Champ, a pretty big deal at the time. Bos wrestled on the Jefferson High “Sophomore” Squad as a Sophomore and made the varsity team as a Junior, going on to qualify for the State Tournament as a Senior under Head Coach Dick Briggs. Bos was also a linebacker for the Jefferson football team.

After graduating from Jefferson High School, Brian attended Buena Vista College in Storm Lake. Under Coach Al Baxter, he was an Iowa Conference Champion and a National Qualifier. He graduated from Buena Vista with a Physical Education Major and a Business Minor.

Bos went to work at a health club in Des Moines and got started in the construction business. During that time, Brian was an assistant wrestling coach at Urbandale High School and was part of two State Championship Teams.

In 1996, Brian was hired as a sixth-grade teacher at Pipestone and replaced Dick Saxlund as Head Wrestling Coach while also serving as a junior high football coach. This has been Brian’s 28th year at the helm in Pipestone. In that time, the Pipestone Wrestling Program has had 22 state place-winners with ten state individual champs, including three by Hunter Burnett, who became a Division II All-American this past season. 2017 Brian coached his Pipestone team to their first-ever state team appearance. Pipestone lost two one-point matches and came home without a place, but the experience was incredible, and Bos was proud of the outstanding effort of his team. Brian cites longtime Assistant Wrestling Coach Gary Haupert as vital to the program’s success.

Brian went on to explain how every member of his family became part of the Pipestone Wrestling Program with his wife Angela, who works as an accountant, serving as their home tournament director and taking pictures for the local newspaper. Daughter Ashley served as a manager/statistician and currently teaches Physical Education at the Southwest Service Coop. Son Brady, a two-time state place-winner, is finishing his PhD in Physics at the University of North Carolina. Brian and Angela have two grandchildren, Theo and Bryce.

Brian has built his program around the motto, “What you conceive in your mind and believe in your heart you can achieve.”

Mark Madigan – Simley High School

Mark Madigan, son of Robert and Rose, was born and raised in Mankato along with older sister Julie and younger brothers Scott and John. Mark started wrestling at the YMCA when he was seven at the urging of cousin Jim Bassett. Brothers Scott and John followed in Mark’s footsteps. Madigan had the honor of wrestling under Hall of Famer Al Ross at the junior high level and wrestled for Luverne Klar and Jack Bengston at the senior high level. Mark was a solid wrestler for the Scarlets, placing third in the Region at 180 pounds as a senior. Madigan was a two-way starter in football, playing offensive guard and defensive tackle.

After graduating from Mankato West, Mark enrolled at Mankato State and started pursuing a degree in Mathematics. He wrestled for another Hall of Fame Wrestling Coach by the name of Rummy Macias. He started as a true freshman, wrestling at 167 pounds, then moved up to 177 pounds, and finally 190 pounds as a senior. Mark was a senior captain and classified himself as an average wrestler who was willing to do whatever the team needed him to do. He had the privilege of wrestling alongside some outstanding names, like Eustice, Goodnature, Augustin, and Slack. He was also grateful to be able to wrestle for two years with his younger brother Scott, who was a three-time All-American and a National Champion.

After graduating from Mankato State with a mathematics degree, Mark was hired to teach Math at Inver Grove Junior High and coach football and wrestling at Simley.

Madigan retired from teaching after 39 years but continued to coach wrestling and football. This past year was Mark Madigan’s 45th season of coaching both football and wrestling at Simley High School. It has been a great ride. Mark has nothing but good things to say about the athletes, coaches, and fans of Simley, as well as the members of the Inver Grove community. He has been matside for every individual state champion from Simley (and there have been more than a few) except one – Jim Trudeau won his state title before Mark started coaching. Simley first qualified for the state team tournament in 1987 and has accumulated 29 state appearances with 17 state team titles since then. When Mark started coaching wrestling, Simley had two coaches at the high school level – Jim Short and Mark Madigan. How things have changed. Madigan feels blessed to have wrestled for and coached with so many hall-of-fame individuals and grateful to have been able to coach and teach for an entire career in a tremendous school system and supportive community.

Madigan was named the NWCA National Assistant Wrestling Coach of the Year in 2012, but the biggest thrills of his career have come on the wrestling mat watching his Simley Spartans compete for individual championships and team titles. It never gets old.

Mark and his wife Kim, who was Willie Short’s athletic secretary, have two daughters, Melissa and Sara, both three-sport athletes at Simley. When Kim passed away in 2020, Mark was overwhelmed by the amazing support from the Simley wrestling family and the Inver Grove community as well as the Minnesota wrestling community. The time has come for Mark Madigan to take a step back and let those young, energetic coaches do their thing. As always, Mark plans to be around to help out whenever and wherever he is needed.

Melissa and Sara have informed him that the time has come for them to start taking care of their dad.

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