Joel Skillings, fourth from left, poses with the 2021 Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame recipients.

Skillings is inducted into Wrestling Hall of Fame

Former longtime Minneota wrestling coach Joel Skillings was officially inducted into the Dave Bartelma Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame on Saturday at a banquet in Benson.
With several family members and friends present, Skillings was presented by his former wrestler and assistant coach Matt Buysse at McKinney's on Southside restaurant. Relatives from Nebraska, North Dakota, Texas and Washington D.C. were on hand to honor Skillings on this special day."The best part was that is brought everyone back together," said Skillings. "It was a wonderful day because of the loving contingent of people I had supporting me."
Skillings was inducted along with coaches Don Krusemark and Tom Gravalin, contributors Gary Heydt and Tom Campanero, and wrestler Mark Costello.
"This honor is secondary to the people who are involved with it," Skillings said. "My family, friends, the kids and coaches were all a big part of it. If I had to choose between an award or family, I'd choose family."
One important person in Skillings' life was his late wife Jackie, who passed away in May of 2020.
"I admit it was a difficult day without her," Skillings said softly. "Jackie deserved to be here."
Skillings coached at Minneota for 31 seasons and compiled a record of 559-174-4. He was twice named Class A Minnesota Wrestling Coach of the Year, in 2013 when the Vikings won the Class A state title, and again in 2015.
He stepped down following the 2019 season and has been an assistant coach with Southwest Minnesota State University the past two seasons.
Skillings was unsure what he will do with the plaque he received for being inducted into the Hall of Fame. He seemed humbled and uncomfortable talking about what the honor means to him.
"Getting this award was more like a remembrance of all the wonderful people I met along the way," Skillings concluded. "That’s the best award a guy can get."

Joel Skillings speaks to the crowd after being inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday. Contributed photo

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