Few Class A wrestling coaches stayed in the practice room as long as Rick Benson at Columbus.
He took the Discoverers to 29 state meets, where they had 16 individual titles and were Class A team runners-up in 1989 and 2001.
Benson, 67, died Friday at Columbus Community Hospital. A private funeral service will be available for live viewing Wednesday on Gass Haney Funeral Home's Facebook page.
In lieu of a mortuary visitation, Benson’s family will be outside their home at 461 S. Deer Creek Place in Columbus from 5 to 6 p.m. Tuesday for a drive-by wave or honk. Students are asked to participate only with their family and not in groups because of local health recommendations.
“Rick Benson had an enormous impact on lives of many people, including mine,’’ Columbus football coach Craig Williams wrote on Twitter. “His heart and his laugh were as big as anyone’s. He will always be what being a Discoverer is about. Always a class act, thank you for being a mentor and a friend.”
Benson was a 1971 graduate of hometown Sioux City East who qualified for the Iowa state wrestling tournament as a senior. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa, then taught at South Sioux City and Sioux City West.
He was the wrestling coach at South Sioux City from 1976 to 1978 and at Sioux City West from 1979 to 1981.
He came to Columbus in 1981 and was assistant wrestling coach for four years. The Discoverers, with Charlie Sherertz as head coach, were Class A team champions in 1982 and 1984 and took third in 1983 and 1985. Benson succeeded Sherertz — whose teams won four Class A titles overall — when the latter returned to Missouri to coach.
Among Benson’s best wrestlers were two-time champions Cory Schlesinger, who went on to star in football at Nebraska and have a long NFL career with Detroit; Jay Sherer; and Austin Carmichael. Benson coached three-time champion Colton Wolfe as a freshman.
Benson was also the boys golf coach from 1994 through 2008 and again starting in 2012.
Survivors include his wife of 39 years, Jeanie; sons Derek, Jonathan and Callen; daughter Michelle Coffman; brothers Duane, Mike, Steve and Ron; and sisters Sue Munson and Dar Allison.