KEARNEY — People outside of Amherst know Dave Klingelhoefer as the assistant coach who has occupied the second chair throughout the Broncos’ years of success on the high school scene.
Inside the Amherst program, he’s known as the mentor they’ve had since they first stepped onto the wrestling mat as part of the Amherst youth wrestling club.
Klingelhoefer, who says his work with the youth program has been his most rewarding experience in wrestling, will be inducted into the Nebraska Scholastic Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame as a contributor at its banquet June 12 at Boarders Inn and Suites in Grand Island.
He joins a class of inductees that includes three coaches, five competitors, two officials and three other contributors.
Klingelhoefer has been a cornerstone of the youth program since its inception in 1989.
“We had five kids. Now we have between 85 and 90,” he said.
Other towns in the area were beginning to create youth clubs “and we just wanted to be able to compete,” Klingelhoefer said.
Since then, Amherst has competed at the highest level. The Broncos have won eight state high school team championships, five runner-up trophies, a third-place trophy and five state dual championships. They’ve produced 21 state champions who’ve won 29 gold medals since the start of the youth program.
The youth club includes kids from prekindergarten age to the eighth grade. He has turned over the younger kids to his son, Chase, the Amherst High School head coach — “that’s too challenging for me,” he said.
But he has grandkids in that age group and is happy to work with the older kids.
“It’s just fun. I guess, working with the little kids and watching them grow. These guys who are seniors now you know 10 years ago they were just sitting down there in second grade, scrawny little kids. Now they’re grown into big men,” he said. “But it’s fun. It’s a lot of fun. ... I know I’ve missed five practices in 31 years.”
A 1980 state champion himself, Klingelhoefer started as an assistant coach with the high school team 15 years ago..
“It’s getting harder every year. It takes a tremendous amount of time. But I also enjoy that.. ... As long as I’m not a liability I’ll probably keep doing it,” he said.
The job and its responsibilities are made easier by the kids.
“We’ve been fortunate. We’ve had really, really good kids, excellent families, old-name families that come through. Once you get somebody successful then everybody wants to be successful. It’s kind of fed on itself,” he said.
Klingelhoefer will be inducted along with Kearney High graduate Lance Tolstedt, who is being honored for his success as a competitor.
The 1999 Hub Territory Wrestler of the Year, Tolstedt was a two-time heavyweight state champion, going undefeated his junior and senior seasons, putting together a 64-match winning streak. He finished his career with four conference championships and a 109-21 record.
The Dave Shultz Award recipient as Nebraska’s top wrestler, he went on to wrestle for the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
The Nebraska Eight-Man Coaches Association recently announced its Hall of Fame class for 2020, it fourth induction class, and it’s group of 11 players and three coaches includes two Hub Territory honorees — Carl Ostrand of Ansley and Kevin Mahlberg of Elwood.
They will be inducted at halftime of the 43rd annual Sertoma Eight-Man all-star game at Hastings College on June 20.
Ostrand was twice named Class D1 all-state quarterback. He led the Warriors to the 1986 state title and to runner-up finishes in 1984 and 1987 before being named offensive MVP in the 1988 eight-man all-star game. He went on to have a successful eight-man coaching career at Nebraska Christian.
Mahlberg coached at Elwood from 1982 to 2014, winning 210 games and leading the Pirates to the playoffs in 19 seasons.