Photo of Archie Randall coaching courtesy of Rich Tortorelli of Oklahoma City University.
If you ask Archie Randall when he became state chairperson in Oklahoma for USA Wrestling, he can’t pinpoint exactly when that was. But he knows it has been 23 years that he has chaired the state association, and it has been a lot of work and a lot of fun.
Few people have been as involved in all aspects of USA Wrestling over the last two decades as Oklahoma’s Archie Randall, who recently turned over his state chairperson role to active volunteer leader Kevin Crutchmer this season. In his many roles within the organization, Randall has seen USA Wrestling grow, mature and reach new heights.
“I have enjoyed it and it has been a wonderful run,” said Randall. “I pride myself in being a USA Wrestling person. I will always support USA Wrestling. To me, USA Wrestling always has the athlete in mind first. My goals have always been the same, to provide the best opportunities for the athletes. We have one thing in mind, the athlete experience, and we do that better than anybody else.”
Randall was a coach in Oklahoma at El Reno High School when those involved in the state association asked him to take a leadership role with USA Wrestling. Things have changed considerably since those early years of his involvement.
“I was a high school coach then, and I saw a need to grow our sport in Oklahoma and get more kids involved. I realized how much it helped a young wrestler to compete in the summer. For us, the freestyle season was a break after the long folkstyle year. You had a chance to wrestle more and have a good time. The slogan ‘Summer Wrestlers Make Winter Champions’ is a true deal,” said Randall.
Randall took on numerous roles in the state association when he took on the responsibility.
“At the time, we ran like three tournaments in the summer. We had the hardest time getting volunteers involved. I’d go to events, bring the bout sheets, medals and membership cards and do it all. Eventually, other people stepped up to help. I also continued to coach as well,” he said.
Randall took on many additional roles within USA Wrestling, serving on the Board of Directors and on many committees, including a number of years as the Chair of the State Chairpersons Council. He played an important role in helping USA Wrestling expand its activities and grow as an organization.
One of the things that Randall enjoyed doing as a state leader was serving as host for major USA Wrestling events. The Junior National Duals were held in the state and under his direction for many years, growing into one of the most popular youth events in the nation. He founded and continues to host the Girls Folkstyle Nationals each spring. Oklahoma has also hosted a number of Senior level events, including the U.S. World Team Trials, in recent years.
“The events not only benefit your state, it helps our international program and USA Wrestling overall. I always thought running a good tournament promotes wrestling in general. When I run an event, I try to have the most efficient event possible. We want it to be a great experience for the fans, the athletes and the coaches,” said Randall.
In 2006, Randall took on a new job, serving as head wrestling coach for the new program at Oklahoma City University, which competes in the NAIA. A year later, he started a varsity women’s program, which quickly developed into the nation’s most successful team. In spite of the new responsibilities, Randall continued to serve as the state chairperson in Oklahoma, and maintained his busy schedule as a leader on the national level.
The success of his women’s team at OCU is something which Randall takes great pride in.
“I wanted to give them an opportunity. I went to some women’s events, and they were not run very well. We were only the sixth women’s college team. Things took off. We are getting four more teams next year. It is unbelievable the phenomenal growth. We now have 15 NAIA teams for next year. We will be recognized as a sport by the NAIA next year, which will be the first college organization to recognize women’s wrestling. I have watched the growth of the technique and the abilities of the women wrestlers. There are so many good girls in the WCWA now, doing the rankings is difficult. And we have the women wrestle freestyle, which is critically important to our national program,” said Randall.
Over the many years with the state association, Randall had the opportunity to work with numerous volunteers from around the state, all who helped build the program there. He is proud of the success of the Oklahoma athletes on the regional and national level, especially based upon the small population in the state.
“I think we did a great job. Oklahoma went from being just one of the states to being a premier state. We have always had great wrestlers. Our state has a good organization, we follow the rules and we support USA Wrestling 100%. In Oklahoma, we have only 140 schools. Yet, we can compete with Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania. We can compete with everybody. That is a reflection of the great coaches and leaders in our state,” said Randall.
He cited the efforts of Rance Stein, who has been his “right hand man” for many years in all aspects of the state program. He praised people like his son Zach Randall, Kevin Crutchmer, Ellis Holt, Mark Peck, Ted Johnson, Johnny Cook and many, many others for stepping up and making an impact over the years.
In 2009, Randall received the President’s Award, which is given annually to a state leader who makes a major impact, and he served on the official delegation at the Wrestling World Championships in Herning, Denmark. As a coach, he has also been on a number of international tours for USA Wrestling.
“I have been out of the country seven times, to places like Denmark, Germany, China, Bulgaria and Russia. One year, they sent me to China to coach. I went from Oklahoma City to New York to China, then back to LA and Denver then Oklahoma. I washed my clothes and got on another trip with a team going to Russia. I went around the world in 10 days that time,” he said.
In addition to his leadership duties, Randall has continued to be a very successful coach. Last year, Randall earned his 400th career dual meet victory as a coach, covering both 20 years of coaching men and women on the high school and college levels. That does not include all of the success he has had as a coach within USA Wrestling’s age-group programs.
In recent years, Randall’s plate has been very full, especially with the increased responsibility with his college teams.
“I got really involved in all aspects of USA Wrestling and I got overextended. My life has changed. My time to devote to it is now not enough. I never realized how the college job is a 24/7 job, especially with the two programs. My goals are different now, getting our women on the Olympic team and our guys on the national team,” he said.
Randall understands that now is a good time to allow somebody else to take on the chairman role for the state wrestling program which he has invested so much time and effort.
“I don’t have as much contact with the high school and the youth wrestlers anymore, because I am a college coach. Kevin Crutchmer will do a good job for the state. He is a really good guy. We have brought him along through the program. Kevin will continue our growth,” he said.
Randall feels good about the direction of wrestling in Oklahoma, where he will remain very active as a college coach and an event director.
“It is at a point where USA Wrestling will go forward. This past year, we did really well at the national duals event. It was amazing for our small state. The group of kids we have in the program are very good, and they are getting the chance to grow and improve,” said Randall.