CHADRON – Scott Ritzen, who has been the head wrestling coach at Chadron State College since 1987, has retired from coaching, athletic director Brad Smith announced Tuesday.
Ritzen, who recently wrapped up his 25th season, retires as the longest tenured coach in Chadron State’s history. He will continue working at the school as a professor and department chair in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation department. His final day as the head wrestling coach will be Wednesday, June 20, the same date the CSC Wrestling Team Camp ends.
“It was a tough decision but at the same time when it’s the right thing to do, it’s the right thing to do,” Ritzen said. “Obviously, there are some things I’m going to miss because it’s always been a pleasure coaching here. I’ve had a chance to work with great student-athletes and it’s been really rewarding.”
A decision regarding Ritzen’s replacement will be made this summer.
“Scott Ritzen’s dedication and loyalty to Chadron State and its wrestling program is second to none,” Smith said. “It’s tough any time you lose someone of Scott’s caliber on your coaching staff. However, Scott built a legacy within the wrestling program and I am confident that tradition will continue. We are fortunate to keep him as a faculty member and department chair. He’s a wonderful member of the college and community.”
Ritzen has been a mainstay for the wrestling program. He is the school’s winningest wrestling coach with a record of 134-139-8 and he tutored 33 All-Americans and three national champions.
In addition, Eagles have earned first- or second-team academic honors conferred by the NCAA Division II Wrestling Coaches Association 33 times during Ritzen’s tenure as the coach. Nineteen of those honors have been since 2000.
For all his success as a collegiate wrestler and coach, Ritzen has been inducted into several halls of fame. His first honor came in 1989 when he was inducted into the NAIA Wrestling Hall of Fame. Following that, he was inducted into the Adams State Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005. He was also recently inducted into the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Hall of Fame as a member of the national champion Adams State squad and he’s in the Chadron State Athletic Hall of Fame as a coach.
Ritzen, who was the RMAC coach of the year in 1995, was also thought of highly by his peers, illustrated by his selection as president of the NCAA Division II National Wrestling Coaches Association at the 2004 national tourney.
While attending Adams State College at Alamosa, Colo., where he earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Ritzen compiled a 71-15-1 record and won NAIA national championships as a 126-pounder in 1980 and 1982. He placed sixth in his weight class at the national tourney his junior year in 1981.
Adams State won the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference title all three years Ritzen wrestled there, and he was on the NAIA national championship team in 1980.
After completing his eligibility at Adams State, Ritzen remained there three years as an assistant coach under Rodger Jehlicka, who had been the Chadron State head coach before moving to the Colorado college. Jehlicka was among those who recommended Ritzen for the CSC position when Darold Andrist resigned in 1987.
The two years before he came to Chadron State, Ritzen was the head wrestling coach at Boulder, Colo., High School, where his team had just a 2-11 dual record the first year, but improved to 8-5 the following season.
—Alex Helmbrecht, Sports Information Director
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