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COACH OF THE YEAR

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Photographs by Anthony Reyes

James Rappe

Coach of the Year

James Rappe

SCHOOL Bentonville

THE SCOOP The 34-year-old Muskogee, Okla., native became just the second wrestling coach in Bentonville this year, after Bill Desler stepped down for health reasons. Guided the Tigers to their fifth state title (third as a sanctioned sport), while also winning the Big West Conference title and the Dual State title. Came from Tahlequah, Okla. where he’d coached for 10 years and five years as head coach.

DID YOU KNOW Wrestled in high school on a nationally ranked team, but did not wrestle in college. … Had a scholarship to pitch at Seminole State College in Seminole, Okla., but was sidelined with a shoulder injury. … Walked on as a senior at Northeastern (Okla.) State and pitched mostly out of the bullpen. … Married to his wife, Kia, for 10 years and has a two-year-old daughter, Roxie.

QUOTABLE “If I have to pick something that I will remember and cherish it’s those initial relationships that I was able to form with these kids,” Rappe said. “One of the things I really focused on was the team aspect, getting the young men to become a closer, cohesive unit as opposed to a handful of individuals who were successful. The kids responded very well. All the pieces for what I like to call a wrestling dynasty are here. I’ve seen them over the years. It’s a very special thing to have. There’s places that can win state championships, but can they win multiple state championships? I really believe all of the necessary components to have a program like that exist right here.”

— Paul Boyd • @NWAPaulb

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