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Apple Valley’s Jim Jackson, the most successful coach in Minnesota high school wrestling history, retired from coaching Tuesday, May 1.
“It’s just time,” Jackson told the Pioneer Press.
Jackson, 55, is stepping down to spend more time with his wife, June, and 12-year-old daughter, Taylor, a tennis player.
“I want to be a full-time dad and give my wife and daughter the time they deserve,” he said. “It is tough walking away, but the program is in good shape. I feel good about what we’ve done.”
Jackson leaves a wrestling legacy that likely won’t be duplicated.
An Apple Valley assistant coach for 15 seasons before taking the head coaching job in 1995, Jackson guided the Eagles to a 619-26-3 record. His .958 winning percentage is the best in Minnesota prep wrestling history. The Iowa native has led Apple Valley to 11 of the past 12 big-school state championships.
Apple Valley also won consecutive national championships in 2010 and ’11. This past season, the Eagles finished No. 3 in the final national rankings.
Under Jackson, 169 Apple Valley wrestlers qualified for the state tournament. Fifty-six became state champions, and 131 placed in the top six.
“I have been very fortunate to work with great coaching staffs and great kids over the years,” Jackson said. “The memories of working hard and achieving success will be with me forever.”
Jackson said he will continue to teach physical education at Falcon Ridge Middle School in Apple Valley.
He reiterated he is not interested in coaching at any other level.
Apple Valley activities director Pete Buesgens called it a “sad day” when Jackson announced he was retiring from coaching.
“Jim Jackson is one of the true legends of coaching in Minnesota,” Buesgens said. “He took a state powerhouse, built by Bill Demaray, and put it on the national scene. In a business that is focused on relationships, Jim went out of his way to make every member of the Apple Valley High School wrestling program feel important.
“He never once cut an athlete from the program and welcomed every kid, regardless of skill level. He is a true ambassador of the sport, and he will be missed on the coaching staff of Apple Valley High School. However, I have a feeling that he won’t be too far away from the wrestling room.”
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