Baylor head wrestling coach Ben Nelson told team members Monday, March 9 that he is leaving Baylor and assistant coach Rex Kendle will take over the program.
Nelson joined the Baylor program in 2008, and was named head coach in 2010 following the retirement of the late Jim Morgan. Nelson was the fourth head wrestling coach hired at Baylor since 1949, when the program started. During his ten seasons as head coach, he compiled a 190-38 record, won three traditional state championships, five duals state championships, and coached 43 individual state champions. Nelson teaches honors biology and plans to pursue teaching opportunities elsewhere.
“The last twelve years have been amazing, and I have always appreciated the wonderful parent and community support. I know the program is in good hands with the right person directing it forward, or I would not have been in a position to make this decision,” said Nelson.
Kendle joined Baylor in 2010 as an assistant and will lead the program on a full-time basis after the wrestling banquet in April. He was a four-time All-American wrestler at Michigan State University and was an Academic All-American his senior year. He is also a science teacher at Baylor.
“When we hired Ben Nelson twelve years ago, I knew that we had someone special," said Baylor Athletic Director Thad Lepcio. "Ben is the consummate teacher-coach. It is not every day that I could hire a coach with a Ph.D in biochemistry who wrestled collegiately at Indiana University. While his competitive success is unparalleled, the impact he has had on his students and his athletes is incredible. He has earned the right to be mentioned with other Baylor wrestling legends like (Luke) Worsham, (Schaack) Van Deusen, and (Jim) Morgan.
Nelson, who excelled in wrestling and in biology as a high school student in Wayzata, Minn., earned a B.S. in biology from Indiana University, an M.Ed. in science education from Georgia State University, and a Ph.D in biology with a concentration in biochemistry from Northern Illinois University.