• Keith Hjelle

Father Leaves Wrestling, Son to Continue

Updated: Mar 28

After a coaching career that has spanned thirty plus years, ACGC wrestling coach Shawn Danker has resigned from his position as the Charger mentor. At the same time, Danker's son Seth decided to continue his wrestling career when he chose to attend Cornell College this fall.

When asked why he decided to step down, Shawn Danker replied that it mostly had to do with family ties. "Jennifer and I want to be able to travel to see our children on weekends, and that would not be possible if I continued to coach wrestling."

The Dankers four children will be scattered throughout the midwest this fall, with daughters Shelby and Sydney working in Kansas City, Seth attending Cornell in Mt. Vernon, and his twin sister Sophie attending Iowa State.

Danker also mentioned that his age played a factor in his decision. "The older I get, the harder it is to get on the mat, recover, and then get back on the mat again. I like to be interactive and on the mat, but it is harder to do with age."

The senior Danker arrived in Guthrie Center in 1998 to begin twenty three successful years at the helm of the Charger program.

During those twenty three years Guthrie Center and ACGC grapplers won nearly two thirds of their dual matches as they compiled a 308-206 won loss record. Danker's squads were ten time regional qualifiers, winning two regionals in 2008 and 2011, and competing in the state duals in those same years.

Danker offered these thoughts about coaching his son. "I was extremely lucky for this opportunity and will cherish it forever. The hardest part was knowing when it was time to stop being a coach and to become a dad, and when to increase the intensity as a coach and not be so much of a dad. I enjoyed being in his corner and sharing a heart full of joy for his successes and a heart full of sorrow for the pain of a loss."

Sixty six of Danker's charges qualified for the state meet, with at least one qualifier every year during his tenure as coach. Of those sixty six, twenty seven were state place winners. Five of the place winners were state runners up, including Justin Slaybaugh, Christopher Reil, Blake Faucher, Dillon Suhr, and Austin Laabs.

Meanwhile, the younger Danker said that his first visit to Cornell clinched it for him. "Cornell is a good school and has a beautiful campus. A big factor in my decision was Cornell's four week academic program where students study just one class for a month, have a five day break, and then begin another four week class. That way I can concentrate on just one subject at a time." Seth also considered Loras College in Dubuque and Baker University in Kansas.

And of course there is wrestling. "I have been able to develop a good relationship with the coaches at Cornell. I really felt they were interested in having me come to Cornell, so I plan to continue wrestling beyond high school."

When asked what it was like to wrestle for his father, Seth said that his father expected a lot from him. "He encouraged me to do off season wrestling and to lift weights, but he didn't push me to an extreme. I learned a lot from him, and I have a lot of respect for him."

Seth completed a successful high school wrestling career with 121 wins that included a 38-3 won-loss record during his senior season. He qualified for the state meet as a freshman and again as a junior.

As far as future plans beyond college are concerned, Seth indicated that he intends to pursue a business degree at Cornell. "They offer a major in marketing and sales in which you can create your own program that includes internships." But before entering the marketplace, there is more school and of course more wrestling.

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