By Brian Jerzak
When Dalen Wasmund decided to step away from the head coaching position at Apple Valley High School, he was not only leaving a program that was coming off a state title. He was leaving a program that set the standard for high school wrestling – not just in Minnesota but also in the nation. Following Wasmund and former Eagles' coach, Jim Jackson would take someone willing to step into a program with an impossibly high standard, and it would take someone willing to take the program in a new direction.
"Expectations were definitely high, but I felt like if you were afraid to go after things because you only worried about the potential negative outcomes, you are going to miss out on a lot of great opportunities and experiences, you can't live your life with that type of mindset," Apple Valley head coach Josh Barlage said. "You wouldn't enjoy the process if you were just worried about those things. Those things ran through my head before I took the job. Some good advice that Coach Wasmund gave me was not to get too caught up in the winning and losing – that stuck with me. Obviously, we are striving to win every day, but winning will never be the sole gauge of whether we are successful or not."
Success for Barlage and the Eagles' program comes from winning in a different way than they did in the program's heyday.