In a whirlwind 36 hours, Nebraska-Kearney's Marc Bauer — one of the most successful college wrestling coaches ever — resigned to pursue his doctorate, watched some Olympic badminton on TV, watched his daughter play softball, packed for a trip to Rio de Janeiro and took a deep breath.
Bauer, whose teams had three NCAA Division II national titles and five national runner-up finishes, is stepping down after 17 years as head coach of the Lopers.
He will pursue a doctorate in interdisciplinary leadership at Creighton, teach kinesiology and still be an assistant to new UNK coach Dalton Jensen, who is moving up from his assistant position.
“I’ve always told my wrestlers to grab opportunities when they come and this is an opportunity I have thought about for a long time,” said Bauer, the Journal Star State College Coach of the Year in 2008. “The program is going to good hands with Dalton Jensen and I think things are in place for the successful run to continue. We have left the process intact.”
Bauer is headed to Rio for the Olympics and a chance to see former Loper national champion Tervel Dlagnev wrestle for a gold medal in the heavyweight division.
“It all seems like it’s going pretty fast right now, but this has been in the works for a while and, except for having our hotel reservations canceled in Rio recently, everything is going smoothly,” Bauer said.
Bauer, a standout wrestler himself at UNO alongside Nebraska coach Mark Manning for Mike Denney, was teaching elementary school when he was asked to be an assistant at UNK. A few years later, that turned into the head coaching job, while still teaching school, and led to a 218-81 dual record, 89 All-America wrestlers, 22 individual national champions and 15 national runners-up.
Among his former wrestlers are Lincoln East coaches Keenan McCurdy and Jeff Rutledge, Lincoln North Star coach Jake Froscheiser, Grand Island coach Joey Morrison, Columbus coach Andy Keiswetter, Syracuse’s Jeremy Gobel, Kearney’s Ty Swarm and Amherst’s Tyler Herman.
“This administration, the people of the campus and the community, have given us such great support that we count it all as a blessing,” Bauer said. “This will be a delightful challenge, as Coach Denney would say.
“I talked to each of our wrestlers and they said, 'Go for it,' and they understood,” Bauer said. “It looks like a mountain in front of me, but who are you if you don’t challenge yourself?”