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Howard's Ruml adds on to illustrious career

HOWARD--As a wrestling coach, Ken Ruml has done almost everything there is to do in his sport. Nevertheless, when he was called this past winter about being inducted into the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame on June ...

HOWARD-As a wrestling coach, Ken Ruml has done almost everything there is to do in his sport.

Nevertheless, when he was called this past winter about being inducted into the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame on June 26, he was excited.

"I was kind of of shocked that I got into the national hall of fame," Ruml said, adding that it was more special to be recognized on a national level.

Ruml, already a member of the state's hall of fame, spent 35 years as Howard High School's wrestling head coach. He compiled a 436-37 dual record, 18 individual state champions and four Class B state wrestling championships that included back-to-back titles in 1996-97 and 2000-01.

He also coached Howard to a then-record 51 dual win streak that spanned from 1995 to 1998. Ruml was such a fierce competitor that he still remembers certain competitions, match by match, right down to the points scored.

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"We had a lot of pressure on us, then we got that snapped by Bon Homme down there in their dual team tournament," Ruml said. "I tell you, trying to get kids to win that many in a row is not easy."

Ruml, 69, found ways to win, though. It led to him being named the region wrestling coach of the year four times. He was a seven-time district wrestling coach of the year, five-time South Dakota Wrestling Coach of the Year and was named the National Wrestling Coach of the Year in 2000 and 2002.

Since retiring from Howard in 2011, Ruml has stayed in wrestling. Nowadays, Ruml is trying to grow greco and freestyle wrestling in South Dakota.

"I thought I could get greco and freestyle going in South Dakota, and I was really fired up about it, but you know, we don't have enough teams in South Dakota," Ruml said. "So it's not really as big as I thought it would go. We only get a handful of kids that'll do it."

The lack of club teams that wrestle year-round and high school kids choosing to play baseball in the summer makes it hard to find enough wrestlers.

Ruml also focused more on the international side of wrestling for a few years.

"I went to USA Wrestling and got all my copper, bronze, silver and gold levels," Ruml said.

Ruml is one of 40 coaches in the United States to reach gold level. That means he can coach in international competitions and help at the USA's training headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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Ruml coached Team USA in 1996 during a junior international tournament in Belgium, and more recently, assisted for Team USA in the 2012 London Olympics. However, he doesn't expect to continue traveling with Team USA due to his age.

Related Topics: WRESTLING
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