MARSHALL, MN -- Jesse Nelson, who led Ridgewater College to the 2005
National Junior College Division III team championship, has been named
the fourth head coach in the history of the Southwest Minnesota State University wrestling program,
director of athletics Chris Hmielewski announced Wednesday.
Nelson takes over the Mustang program after nine-year head coach John
Sterner resigned last month.
Nelson spent five seasons at Ridgewater, serving as head coach from the
2002-03 season through the 2006-07 season. During his tenure, his
teams finished in the top five nationally all five seasons, including a
second place in 2004, a third place in 2003 and a fourth place this
“I am excited to announce Jesse Nelson will be taking over as our head
wrestling coach,” Hmielewski said. “Jesse has a proven history in
student-athletes who are well-rounded academically and
athletically. He has strong ties within the high schools in
southwestern Minnesota and community colleges in the upper
Midwest. Jesse is also looking forward to meeting and developing
a strong relationship with our Mustang wrestling alumni.”
A five-time Minnesota Community College Conference Coach of the Year,
Nelson coached 13 All-Americans, had four national finalists and one
national champion. He was also twice named NJCAA Region XII Coach
of the Year in both 2003 and 2004.
“Obviously I want to say thank you to Chris and everyone at SMSU for
giving me this opportunity,” Nelson said. “I’m excited about
being a part of the Mustang family and I look forward to building on
the tradition of Mustang wrestling established by both Mike and John
A native of St. James, Minn., Nelson is a graduate of St Cloud State
University where he spent one season on the wrestling squad.
Prior to SCSU, Nelson was a two-year letterwinner at Ridgewater College
where he was a two-time national qualifier (1995 & 1996) and team
captain in 1996. He also played football at Ridgewater serving as
team captain and earning all-conference honors.
Prior to taking over at Ridgewater, Nelson served as head coach at
Greenbush-Middle River High School during the 2001-02 season where he
had five place winners and two state champions.
Jesse and his wife Julie, have an 8-year old son, Blake and a 6-year old daughter, Brooklyn.