In high school wrestling, a longstanding athletic program will see its fair share of coaches come and go, but at New Salem-Almont wrestling, one coach has been a part of things there for more than 40 years.
“I started wrestling in 1962,” Dale Beckman said.
Dale Beckman developed his passion as a wrestler for Hettinger. It was there that he realized he wanted to make wrestling a career.
“When I was a high school wrestler, I really liked my high school wrestling coach, and I thought, ‘I want to be like that guy,'” Beckman said.
Beckman wrestled for Dickinson State and made it to several national tournaments. When he graduated in 1972, he became the head wrestling coach for New Salem and went to work.
“I had a style of wrestling I liked,” Beckman said. “I liked to cradle people, and when I got here, nobody cradled. Within two years, other teams were trying to defend us against the cradle.”
Beckman led the program for 32 years and earned Class B Coach of the Year in 1984. But by 2004, his knees were keeping him from the sport he loved.
“I couldn’t go down on the mat and then get back up, so demonstrating moves was getting to be very hard,” Beckman said.
He retired from his New Salem teaching job that year and had a total knee replacement. But while Beckman was away from the program for two years, it lost some steam.
“We stopped getting numbers. We were down to six kids I think. When I came back from Valley City, I got back in here, hoping that I would help bring it back a little bit.”
Beckman served as an assistant for three head coaches before current head coach Dave Wolding arrived.
“The real key to getting the program where it is now is Dave,” Beckman said.
Now the New Salem program is fuller than ever, and Beckman continues to provide valuable expertise.
“He goes with us everywhere,” New Salem senior wrestler Tayt Wolding said. “Even if he’s not with the varsity, he’s with the junior high or here running practices for the elementary school.”
The only thing left on Beckman’s wish list is a state title for New Salem. And he thinks it could be just around the corner.
“Maybe this one,” Beckman said. “Maybe this crew can do it.”
The Holsteins will travel to Hettinger for the Region 4 Individual Tournament this Saturday.