Former state champ returns to OHS Wrestling program

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New Head Wrestling Coach Derek Johnson

Evan Dushek, Writer

Last May, the Owatonna athletics and activities department was pleased to announce the hiring of former Husky, Derek Johnson as the new Head Wrestling Coach at OHS. 

Growing up, Johnson was the son of an Owatonna Wrestling Coach, therefore he learned to enjoy helping his peers and teaching the sport when he could. Johnson went on to be a member of Owatonna’s 1998 MN State Championship Team and two other MN State Finalist Teams, he was also a 4-time Section Champion, 4-time MN State Placewinner, 2-time MN State Champion and was inducted into the OHS Athletic Hall of Fame in 2019.  After his exceptional career at OHS,  he went on to wrestle Division I at The University of Wisconsin-Madison. Unfortunately, after one season as a Badger, Johnson retired due to ongoing shoulder injuries. But, his love for wrestling never dwindled. 

Johnson first returned to the program by helping youth teams at the Owatonna Middle School. When the position opened up, he decided it was time to move towards his dream to become head varsity coach. He said, “Becoming the Owatonna High School Wrestling coach has always been a dream of mine, so I’m elated to have the opportunity.”

He looks to install a new culture into the OHS wrestling program, with the help of this years’ senior leadership, Including Senior Captain Jacob Reinardy. Reinardy said, “I expect us to win our conference this year, win our section and have a shot at placing pretty high in state.” With a promising new head coach and many returning varsity wrestlers, these goals are certainly not out of reach for the Huskies. 

The Huskies will begin the 2021-22 season in the Dick Shiels invite, in Faribault on Dec. 4.