Randy Dammon: Induction to the George Martin Wrestling Hall of Fame
10/20/2015 9:09 am
On Friday, November 6, 2015, WSHS Teacher & Coach will be inducted in to the George Martin Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Biographical sketch for Randy Dammon
Randy Dammon, son of John and Dolores Dammon, is the fourth of five children. Born in Alma, Wisconsin, he grew up in Genoa, Wisconsin along the Mississippi River where he enjoyed hunting and fishing. He got hooked on wrestling in fifth grade when his oldest brother Ron joined the new team at Aquinas High School. A few years later his brother Dave wrestled for De Soto High School. Starting in 1968, Randy wrestled for two years at Aquinas under assistant coach Jack Nockels and head coach Dave English, and then for two years at De Soto under coach Wayne Johnson. He graduated from De Soto in 1972, married his high school sweetheart Cheryl Johnson, and went to work at Chrysler Corporation in Belvidere, Illinois. In 1974 they moved to La Crosse, Wisconsin and Randy went on to earn his B.S. degree from UW-La Crosse with a major in General Science, a minor in Biology and a concentration in coaching.
In 1978 Randy accepted a job at Belmont High School where he taught science and served as an assistant football coach and head wrestling coach. In his three years at Belmont, Dammon’s wrestling team won one conference championship and had 15 individual conference champions. The Braves achieved a 31-17 dual meet record, crowned four regional champions, two sectional champions and had three state qualifiers including 4th and 2nd place finishers.
Randy moved on to La Crosse Aquinas High School in 1981 where he taught science and served as head wrestling coach for 11 years. He was also an assistant football coach for one year. One of the most influential men in Dammon’s coaching career at Aquinas was his former head coach Dave English. Dave coached the original La Crosse Area Wrestlers youth program which turned out many of the best wrestlers at all three La Crosse high schools. He provided lots of advice and occasionally came into the practice room to tutor a wrestler in need. Randy had the honor of coaching all four sons of his former Coach.
Assistant Coaches Tony Lyga and Scott Zurfluh were instrumental in getting the program off to a good start with a new head. Under Dammon’s leadership the Blugolds won six of seven conference titles before the CWCC wrestling conference ended in 1989. They won nine regional titles and finished second twice. The Blugolds won seven state championships and placed second three times. In this 11-year run the Blugolds had 41 of a possible 84 individual conference champions, 57 regional champions, 109 state qualifiers, 89 state place winners and 31 WISAA State Champions. Randy had the great honor of coaching three four-time state champions: Mike Nockels (Wisconsin’s first) 84-87; Jeff Bertram 87-90 and Jon Low 88-91. Mike English wrestled for Aquinas during Dammon’s first two years there, and then became Randy’s assistant coach and an essential part of the team’s six consecutive state title run. Randy was a four-time District 8 coach of the year. In 1987 he was chosen as one of the coaches for the Minnesota-Wisconsin all-star classic wrestling meet. During the 88-89 season, three of Dammon’s wrestlers, Todd English, Lance Schmidt and Kevin Colburn, won Bi-State titles, WISAA titles and earned spots on the Minnesota-Wisconsin all-star classic team. Randy’s daughter Michelle was a statistician for his Aquinas wrestling team for four years and she wrote a wrestling column for the Crossface Magazine for two years.
With four children at home, Randy retired from coaching in 1992 to spend more time with his family. In 1993 he took a job at West Salem High School where he served as athletic director for three years and science teacher until the present. In 1995 Randy’s youngest child Trevor entered kindergarten and joined the La Crosse Area Wrestlers. That same year Randy joined the LAW coaching staff as an assistant under head coach Jon Burns. He continued coaching as an assistant until 2005 when Trevor entered Aquinas. For the next four years Randy enjoyed being just a wrestling fan, watching Trevor compete, including three trips to the WIAA state meet and a fourth (08) and third (09) place finish.
In the summer of 2009 Randy was asked if he would coach the West Salem/Bangor co-op for one season while coach Rick Dobbs was called up to active duty in the National Guard. With Randy’s son having just graduated from high school, this was a perfect opportunity to stay involved in a sport that has been a lifelong passion. When Dobbs returned he decided not to resume coaching and so Dammon continued on as head coach for five more seasons. The WB co-op had struggled for several years and continued to do so during Dammon’s first two seasons. Beginning in 2012, the WB’s won three consecutive coulee conference titles. In 2014 they won a regional title for only the second time in the co-op’s 20-year history. The team went on to lose 38-30 to Evansville Albany in the team sectional final. During Randy’s tenure as head coach, the WB’s had 10 state qualifiers, five place winners and Dammon’s first WIAA state champion, freshman Devin Bahr. Assistant coaches Pete Arentz, Jon Chisholm, Josh Brewer, David Neuman and Steve Kurschner were crucial in helping to revive the WB program. Randy retired from coaching at the end of the 2014-15 season, turning the WB program over to three great young coaches: Josh Brewer, David Neuman and Steve Kurschner.
Randy is currently in his final year of teaching. He is both blessed and humbled by the hundreds of wrestlers and parents he has had the privilege to work with over the past 38 years.
Randy and Cheryl raised four children: Michelle, a writer living in California; Krista, a librarian in Illinois; Carrie, a manager at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota; and Trevor, a recent college graduate currently teaching in Vietnam. The Dammons have five grandchildren.
1972 Graduate of De Soto High School, De Soto, WI
1978 Graduate of the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse
1978-2016 Teacher Belmont, Aquinas and West Salem High Schools
1978-1981 Head Wrestling Coach, Belmont High School
1981-1992 Head Wrestling Coach, Aquinas High School
1993-1997 Athletic Director West Salem High School
2009-2015 Head Wrestling Coach, West Salem/Bangor Co-op
Dual meet Record, 217-121-2
10 Conference Team Championships
67 Individual Conference Champions
10 Regional Team Championships
71 Individual Regional Champions
122 Individual State Qualifiers
96 Individual State place winners
32 Individual State Champions
7 WISAA Team State Championships
District 8 Coach of the year 1984, 85, 86, 87
WWCA District 8 Representative 1988-1990
1987 Wisconsin-Minnesota All-Star Classic Coach