Don Krusemark

Don Krusemark, along with his identical twin brother David, was born in May 1956 in Blue Earth, MN to Ruth and Leslie Krusemark. Don graduated from Blue Earth High School in 1974. There, he was involved in football and baseball as well as wrestling. Don participated in the state football tournament in 1972, the state baseball tournament in 1973, and the state wrestling tournament in 1974. He was a 2x South Central Conference wrestling champion, 2x District 5 champion, and 1x Section 2 champion. The 1974 Buccaneer wrestling team finished 3rd in the state in a one-class system. While in high school, Don was voted Most Valuable Athlete in 1974, along with his twin brother David. Don was a three-sport captain, including football, wrestling, and baseball.

After high school, Don attended Rochester Community College and earned an Associate Degree in 1976. He continued his studies at Indiana State University (ISU) and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education and Health Education. He obtained his Masters of Science in Health Education from Winona State in 1987.

In college, Don was a 2x state junior college champion, junior college Regional champion, and 2x NJCAA qualifier. At Indiana State University, he shared the Indiana State University “Athlete of the Year” Award with NBA legend, Larry Bird. Don was named a captain his senior year at ISU and also was named the “Maurice Bosstick Award’’ winner, deeming him the most valuable wrestler as a senior! He was a Ball State and Indiana State tournament champion and was a runner-up at the Cleveland State and Michigan State Invitationals. Don’s combined college record was 84-28.

After college, Don continued training at Winona, and in 1981, he was the United States Wrestling Federation State Champion for the Winona Wrestling Club. He was a five-time Minnesota State Senior Open Champion in addition to a three-time State Senior Team champion. One of Don’s biggest matches was in 1980 when he defeated 1972 Olympian Gary Neist 8-2. Don also added tournament titles at the Rochester Community College Open twice and the Forest Lake Open.

Don began teaching and coaching at Amboy-Good Thunder High School in 1978. He taught health, physical education, and driver’s education and was an assistant football coach and the head wrestling coach. In March 1979, under Don’s coaching, Amboy-Good Thunder wrestling qualified their first-ever wrestler to the state tournament.

After one year at Amboy-Good Thunder high school, Don and his wife, Beth, moved to Byron where he taught health and physical education from 1979-1987. In addition to his teaching duties, Don coached varsity football and was the head wrestling and head softball coach. In Don’s final two years there, Byron wrestling lost only one dual meet each year for a combined record of 22-2. Both losses were to perennial power, Goodhue.

In 1987, Don and his family moved to Mankato and replaced the legendary Luverne Klar, at Mankato West High School. In addition to his wrestling duties, Don was a football coach from 1987-1995 (head coach 1989-1993,) the varsity assistant baseball coach from 1989-2000, and the head softball coach (23 years and still counting.) Don is currently in his 35th year of teaching at Mankato West and 44th year of teaching overall.

His 2000 Mankato West wrestling team was crowned Section 2AA champions. He was named District 3 Coach of the Year in 1986 and Section 2 Coach of the Year in 1994 and 2000. Don coached two state champions, five state finalists, and numerous state place winners and entrants. Several former wrestlers competed at the collegiate level, with two earning All-American honors. Don’s high school coaching record stands at 415-286-3. He retired from coaching wrestling in 2011, and his record was 15th all-time in Minnesota (now 25th.) Don was inducted into the Minnesota Wrestling “David Bartelma” Hall of Fame in 2021. In addition, Don was inducted into the “Mankato Area Softball” Hall of Fame in 2011.

Don’s wrestling journey was greatly influenced by four “Hall of Fame” coaches. First, Dick Maher (Blue Earth) was instrumental in introducing the sport to Don. In fifth grade, Coach Maher had the Krusemark twins wrestle in a junior high meet, and the rest is history. Don was hooked on the sport, not just for a day or season, but for a lifetime. The second “Hall of Fame” coach was John Philo (Rochester Community College.) Coach Philo showed Don how to be a college wrestler, and how to elevate his game as he transitioned from a high school wrestler to a college athlete. The final two “Hall of Fame” coaches that greatly influenced Don’s wrestling career were Fran McCann (Indiana State) and Jim Tannehill (Indiana State). Coach McCann gave Don the opportunity to realize a dream. The dream was to wrestle Division I and compete against the best programs in the nation. Their influence and guidance were instrumental in Don’s wrestling and coaching career.

As previously mentioned, Don has coached many other sports, including football (17 years,) baseball (12 years,) and softball (23 years.) Don’s softball teams have participated in three state finals along with one State Championship in 2016. Don has been named Big Nine Softball “Coach of the Year” eight times, Section “Coach of the Year” five times, and State Softball “Coach of the Year” one time.

Don gave back to the sport of wrestling in other ways. He helped as the Section Seeding Manager from 2012-2017. He served as the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association Section Representative from 1999-2009. He was on the Administrative Region 2AA Advisory Committee, as well as the MSHSL Advisory Board. He worked the floor of the MSHSL State Tournament, and he helped with live-stream announcing.

Wrestling is truly a family affair, and Don’s family was no different. Some of his proudest moments were getting to coach his son, Brady, and to have his three daughters, Brittany, Chelsey, and Mariah, a part of the program as managers and statisticians. In addition to running her own daycare business, Don’s wife, Beth, did everything from sewing singlets to singing the national anthem at home meets and tournaments. Beth was the rock that kept the family functioning while being a single parent throughout the winter months. All four of their children are teachers, with Brady at Mankato West, Brittany at Kennedy Elementary in Mankato, Chelsey in Mounds View, and Mariah in St. James.

Don and Beth boast eight grandchildren: Brady (Kristin) Ben, Anna, Isaac; Brittany (Chris) Connor, Grayson, Holden, Lincoln; Chelsey (Nate) Noah, Olive.


Lifetime Service to Wrestling

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