Virg Vagle is the winningest high school wrestling coach

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 2/3/98.

With each Paynesville wrestling team win, Coach Virg Vagleís record keeps climbing. In January of 1997, he became the winningest coach in state history by breaking the old record set by Ron Malcolm of 462-118-5.

Vagle< right in picture, started the 1997-98 wrestling season with a 487-98-4 record. This is his 32nd year as a wrestling coach in Paynesville.

At the Eastview tournament in Apple Valley on Jan. 24, Vagle set a new milestone when the Paynesville Bulldog wrestling team won the tournament, putting his winning record over the 500 mark. After the Paynesville tournament, Jan. 31, Vagle now has a 505-104-4 record.

ìIt is an honor, yet I feel foolish and humble,î Vagle said of his record. ìI may be the winningest coach yet Iím not the best coach, as there are many other top notch coaches in the state.î

Vagle credits his record to a good program with a consistent, stable coaching staff at Paynesville. As his assistant coach, he had Bob Bowden for 11 years and now Steve Fuchs is in his 12th year working with Vagle. ìBoth men have contributed greatly to the program,î Vagle added.

Vagle also credits his record to a lot of good wrestlers over the years, among those are two of his coaches, brothers Ron, left in above picture, and Steve, center, Fuchs. Ron placed third and fourth at the state meet and Steve placed third twice and was also a state champion. Ron Fuchs coaches junior high along with Scott George. Tim Woehler is in charge of the elementary wrestling program this year. Once the varsity season is through, all the coaches will work with the elementary wrestlers.

ìPaynesville has a good junior high and elementary program which helps keep the varsity wrestling program strong,î Vagle said.

ìI feel a lot of the others deserve some of the credit, including the staff and wrestlers. I never won a match in my life, the kids are doing it,î he stressed.

Vagle started coaching in Paynesville as an assistant coach in 1966 and took over the head coach position in 1967. His first year as head coach, the team finished with an 8-4 record. The Paynesville wrestling program started in 1963. They ended with a 0-4 record and the next year had a 2-12 record. ìPaynesville was probably a little ahead of the other area schools. Most of the schools added wrestling to their schedule about the same time Paynesville did,î Vagle said. ìWe had a strong program from the beginning.î

Vagle noted in the early years of the wrestling program, the teams only had 12 dual matches. Today, that number has grown to over 30 dual matches.

There were very few years the Paynesville wrestling team was on the losing end. With Vagle at the helm, the team has won 22 of 23 district or sub-region championships from 1973 to 1995. Vagle said 1985 was the only year they did not win the district title. Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa won the title.

Paynesville has had 14 teams compete at the state tournament finishing with a 29-13 record last year. Paynesville has three state titles: 1987, 1990, and 1991.

Paynesville had a winning streak in conference dual matches of 113 duals over 17 years. Sauk Centre ended the streak. When the winning streak started, none of the wrestlers on the team had been born yet.

In his 32 years as Paynesvilleís wrestling coach, Vagle has earned Coach of the Year honors in 1987 and in 1990 and was inducted into the Minnesota Wrestling Hall of Fame.

ìIt is fortunate that I have had a lot of fun with the wrestling program at Paynesville. The good has outweighed the bad, otherwise I wouldnít have stayed a coach this long,î Vagle concluded.

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