LEXINGTON — His Lexington Minutemen have won eight consecutive Ohio Cardinal Conference titles, eight of the last nine J.C. Gorman Invitationals and are working on a streak of six Top 10 state wrestling tournament finishes in the last seven years, while also becoming a fixture in the state duals meet.
If Brent Rastetter was looking for a new challenge he found one. In the construction business.
After an unprecedented 12-year reign at Lex, Rastetter is leaving to become head wrestling coach of a start-up program at Otterbein University. His last day as dean of students and athletic director at Lexington Junior High is Friday. His first official day on his new job is Monday.
“This is going to push me and test me in every facet to see what I’m capable of,” said Rastetter, who produced Lex’s first four state champions, all in the last four years, and sent 36 wrestlers to state over the last eight years. “There aren’t too many opportunities I would have left Lex for, but the people at Otterbein were so impressive and I was just really comfortable during the interview. I’m looking forward to being part of that family now.”
Rastetter met with his team Monday morning to break the news. Shock might be a good way to describe the reaction. Rastetter is still wrapping his head around the turn of events himself.
“It’s bittersweet,” he said. “This has been a good place for me, but, man, this is such a great opportunity I’m getting. I’m still scratching my head, realizing that I’m going to be able to (coach wrestling) full time.”
Otterbein announced in August it was going to reinstate wrestling starting with the 2016-17 school year after dropping the program in 1969. It will be the seventh wrestling program in the NCAA Division III Ohio Athletic Conference.
“I was sitting in my office one day and thought, ‘You know what, it’s not going to hurt to throw my name into the ring,'” Rastetter, 43, said.
“Otterbein’s decision to add varsity wrestling has been met with an overwhelmingly positive response,” Otterbein director of athletics Dawn Stewart said in a statement. “I am proud of this addition and now, more importantly, to hire Brent as the coach. He is a competitor who has put Lexington on the map.
“I’m excited for him to now be the face of our program and to provide our student-athletes with the same commitment and dedication that he has given to Lexington for so many years.”
Rastetter was picked from among four finalists and now joins the ranks of eight of his former Minutemen competing in college. Except now he’ll be recruiting athletes instead of pitching them to other schools.
“I’m extremely excited about (recruiting),” he said. “I think I’ve built good relationships and good ties with coaches in Ohio and other states. I’ve placed kids in college and know what to look for. I’ll spend this winter scouring the state, trying to sign kids.”
Rastetter, a former wrestler and 1990 graduate of Madison Comprehensive High School, has spent his entire 23-year coaching career at the high school level. He started as a 19-year-old assistant at Clear Fork before an eight-year stint as head coach at Crestview. He spent two years as a Lex assistant to Joe Glorioso before being promoting to head coach.
Relationships with his wrestlers are what Rastetter said he’ll miss most.
“They’ve carried over far past where they were in the wrestling program and I plan on continuing those relationships the rest of my life,” Rastetter said. “I’ve just been blessed with great kids and parents. Without that combination, none of this could have ever taken place.”
With the wrestling season right around the corner, Lex athletic director Joe Roberts knows the clock is ticking to find Rastetter’s replacement. The search will begin in-house with members of his staff.
“We’ll see where it takes us; it’s uncharted waters,” Roberts said. “I have a feeling we’ll get several calls.
“I told Ratty as sad as I am from a personal standpoint, I’m just as happy for him from a personal and professional standpoint because he gets to start from the beginning. You don’t get to do that many times in your life, if at all. He gets to build something from the bottom and create it.”
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