When former head wrestling coach Kayle Dangerud started at West Fargo, he expected to keep the same wrestling pace as the students, hitting the mat just as much as the state hopefuls he would be coaching.
Then one day, he looked up from a practice match and saw the kids watching him. They were waiting for a moment he would rest so they might be able to get away with taking a break, too. Dangerud realized then that he couldn't continue his hall of fame wrestling style anymore, he'd have to move to the top of the mat and focus more on instructing.
But his life as a wrestler would not be forgotten by his stellar coaching record. At the state wrestling tournament in mid February at the Fargodome, Dangerud was inducted into the North Dakota wrestling hall of fame for his wrestling career at Hettinger High School.
He was a two-time state champion at Hettinger for coach Randy Burwick, who has the most dual wins in a coaching career in North Dakota high school history.
"When thinking about it, I just think about all my coaches and everyone who helped me along my career as an athlete and a coach," Dangerud said. "I just reflect on what everybody's done for me and how appreciative I am of them."
A six-time state qualifier, Dangerud won state titles in 1996 and 1997. He was a part of Hettinger's 1996 Class B state championship team, which was the Black Devils' first in 30 years. Dangerud finished high school with a 193-32 record and was also named Class B Co-Mr. Wrestler.
Dangerud learned plenty from Burwick, one of the most important lessons being to never stop evolving and learning new ways of doing things.
"As time went on, I knew realistically it was going to be my sport," Dangerud said. "It really turned into a great career for me. It helped me become a coach taking the things I learned from him and applied out at our West Fargo program. I thought it really helped us grow."
Dangerud went on to wrestle for South Dakota State for three years on scholarship, though his career was limited due to a back injury. He still was a two-year starter at 157 pounds for the Jackrabbits.
Dangerud was West Fargo's assistant coach for three years before taking the head coaching job in 2005 at 26 years old and left in 2015.
In his first full season as head coach in 2006, the Packers won their first state individual team championship in school history. In Dangerud's 10-year tenure, he guided the Packers to four team dual state championships (2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014) and three team individual state championships (2006, 2012, 2013) during his head coaching tenure.
Dangerud coached 109 state placers and 25 state champions. He was named East Region coach of the year twice and 2012's Class A state coach of the year.
"I was able to surround myself with a lot of great people with administration and with our coaching staff and the people we had in our program," Dangerud said. "They really helped me out along the way. I don't think we would've had the success we had without those people."
Dangerud coached current West Fargo Sheyenne head coach Lex Lunde and assistant coaches Lane Lunde and Logan Lunde, all brothers, and had current West Fargo head coach Kevin Fynboh on the Packers staff for a couple years before handing him the reins.
Dangerud said he likes the way Fynboh has taken the program. Currently, Dangerud is a co-owner of Everything Amish in West Fargo which sells custom-made Amish furniture. Though he spends a lot of time working, he still tries to keep up with West Fargo and Sheyenne wrestling.
"They're doing a great job of developing their kids," Dangerud said. "As time goes on, those guys with less experience will soon become leaders and some of West Fargo's better wrestlers."
Fynboh, after watching five Packers win individual state titles, said Dangerud's impact on wrestling in West Fargo is still felt.
"He was able to create a great foundation and broke that mold of Bismarck winning titles," Fynboh said. "He'll never tell you that because he's a super humble guy. He doesn't want people to know that kind of stuff, but he's great. I learned a lot from him."