FEATURE Oklahoma leader Archie Randall prepares to build a competitive new college team at OCUFor high school coach Archie Randall, USA Wrestling's State Chairperson in Oklahoma, to be hired as the head coach of the new wrestling program at Oklahoma City Univ., was a dream come true.
And even though Randall has only recently accepted the position, he's wasting no time getting the program on its feet. Randall is going to finish the wrestling season as coach of the nationally respected El Reno High School team, but he is already setting goals for his budding college program.
Currently, Randall is in the process of recruiting about 30 wrestlers to enter the program. He hopes to have his team ready to be competitive for the 2006-07 season.
"My first goal is to make contact with the athletes," said Randall. "The window of opportunity to get the kids is now."
Randall's second goal, also an important one, is to acquire the necessary equipment, such as the mats needed for practice. A temporary building is being designed to be used for practice, and a permanent building is scheduled to be built within three to five years. Since the addition of a wrestling program at OCU is new, Randall is literally building his wrestling team from scratch.
"It's pretty exciting. It's like starting a whole new organization with nothing," said Randall. "It's a major project and I really enjoy this type of work. I enjoy starting something from nothing."
Although the wrestling program has no budget yet, Randall adds that the new wrestling program will be fully funded by OCU.
"Their goal is to make this program successful," Randall said. "They want to have a good wrestling team. They want the program to be competitive."
Building something is nothing new to Randall. Not only has he built one of the nation's top high school programs, but his leadership activities with USA Wrestling prove he knows how to get things done.
Randall serves as the event director for the National Junior Dual Meet Championships that take place in Enid. Okla. This is one of the most popular events on the USA Wrestling schedule. Randall describes the event as a great way for the wrestlers to get experience for the Nationals that take place in Fargo, N.D. There is also tremendous state pride for the teams that participate in the tournament.
Now there is talk that the National Junior Dual Meet Championships may be moving to Randall's new home at OCU soon.
"I want it where I'm at," Randall said. "It's a great recruiting tool."
Randall also serves as the State Chairperson for Oklahoma and acts as a liaison between the state of Oklahoma and USA Wrestling.
"We're very fortunate that Archie's involvement will continue with USA Wrestling," said Manager of State Services Ted DeRousse. "His leadership and input are invaluable to the State Services and to USA Wrestling."
In addition to his other leadership roles, Randall has been on the Board of Directors for USA Wrestling for the past two years and has devoted his time to serving on several USA Wrestling committees, such as the Executive Committee, Marketing Committee, Sport Science Committee, Freestyle Sport Committee, Greco-Roman Coach Committee and JOWC Committee.
"I wanted to get involved in the political aspect of wrestling," said Randall. I wanted to make a difference. That's the most important part if you feel you can make a difference."
Now after coaching wrestling for 26 years, Randall finally gets to try his hand at the college level.
With the addition of wrestling, OCU will have 13 NAIA varsity sports. The school already boasts a very competitive athletic program, and a total of 26 NAIA national championship titles.
Excitement over the new wrestling program isn't just contained to the state of Oklahoma. Randall notes that he's received calls for people all over the country who want to apply for the positions of his assistant coach and graduate assistant.
Randall also acknowledges the strong academic program at OCU that compliments the intensity of its athletic program.
"We can offer these kids the chance to get a quality education and a good wrestling program," said Randall.
Randall notes that wrestlers who come to OCU have the unique situation of having a quality education, the chance to be on a National championship team and to do so in a small college environment.
Randall, who has put more than 45 of his high school athletes into college wrestling programs all over the country, hopes to be able to help his new college athletes in much the same way.
"I want to get them on World and Olympic teams and give them as much success as possible," said Randall.
Randall's involvement in wrestling began when he was a freshman at Andress High School. However, at the time, Randall was more interested in making the football team. In an attempt to impress the head football coach, who also happened to be the wrestling coach, Randall joined the wrestling team. However, he didn't know what to expect.
"I remember Coach Witt shut and locked the door and told us all practice starts now and no one leaves," said Randall. "It was just unbelievable - the guy locked the door."
That was when Randall first discovered his enjoyment of wrestling and of one on one combat.
"You get to fight and get away with it," Randall said.
Randall continued his wrestling career on through college, until the University of Texas at El Paso dropped its wresting program.
Randall, however, was able to leave his mark on the world of wrestling in another way.
In 1993, Randall began coaching high school wrestling at El Reno High School. Under his leadership, El Reno has moved up to become a top 25 nationally ranking school for the last eight years.
Randall will leave behind a legacy at El Reno, and a 232-16 wrestling record that spans his 13 years at the school. Over the last decade with Randall, El Reno has been to 10 state team tournament championships and 10 dual state championships.
Despite the difference in the styles of wrestling, Randall doesn't believe the transition from being a high school coach to a college coach will be that great.
"I pride myself on being a good technician, a good coach and a good motivator," said Randall. "I learn fast and if I need to make adjustments, I will make adjustments."
Looking towards his future coaching on the college level, Randall seems enthusiastic about his newly forming team and about his position as the head coach.
"It's going to enrich my life," Randall said. "I'm really excited about it."
And given Randall's past history of successful coaching, and effective leadership with USA Wrestling, the first few years of OCU wrestling should be exciting ones.
"Archie is very dynamic and a risk taker and I'm sure he'll be successful," said DeRousse.