CLINTON -- Clinton High School announced the new head coach of its wrestling program Tuesday, but it is not an unfamiliar face.
Dustin Caldwell will be taking the reins of River King wrestling for the 2018-2019 season. Caldwell is an alum of Clinton High School and of the wrestling program.
"We are very excited to have Dustin lead our wrestling program. Having been an athlete and a coach in the program, we look forward to seeing Coach Caldwell continue the great tradition of CHS wrestling," Activities Director Andy Eberhart said.
Caldwell was a four-sport athlete as a River King, eventually continuing his football career at Ellsworth Community College. He's also been an assistant coach with the wrestling program the last couple of years.
"It's been phenomenal being under the coaches who coached me," Caldwell said about his experience as an assistant coach. "I got to see the other side of the program. I went through it so I knew what that was about but then going through the coaching program for them, it's been a great three years."
This kind of opportunity was something Caldwell has always hoped for. As a two-time state qualifier and a medal recipient as a high school wrestler, he wants to pass on what he learned to those now in the program.
"I knew I wanted to coach a long time ago. I went through the program, I know what it's about, I know what it takes to be at the top level," Caldwell said. "To get these guys year would be phenomenal, it's a dream job for me."
Plus, because of his volunteer position the last few years he's familiar with the athletes and the kind of character they have. He's taking over a program with talent, including returning state qualifiers Isaac Larking and Ethan Barry.
"It's a bunch of blue collar, hard working dudes," Caldwell said. "We're not going to be the flashiest guys out there but we're going to give you everything we've got every time you step on the mat with us. Tough guys, they prevail at the end of the season."
As for his coaching philosophy, it's building up quality people along with quality wrestlers.
"I want to make good people. I believe in respect, hard work, discipline and structure," Caldwell said. "If you're doing everything right at home and everything right in the classroom then wrestling is going to take care of itself. Just practice good habits all the time. If you take care of those other things, then wrestling is just wrestling and you can just go out and do what you do."
He's not worried about his young age, either. With his experience in the sport and as a coach, he knows he has what it takes to lead the River Kings to more success. And if you were on social media on Tuesday, you would see the community is equally excited about having him back.
"I figured I'd throw my name in the hat and see what happened," Caldwell said. "I got a lot of support from the community about it and I'm just excited. I never would have thought this five years ago but here we are."