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BEA grad takes the reins at Hopkins

By Staff | Mar 15, 2020

Kelli is shown enjoying some time with her husband Derek and their daughter Pearce, who is now nine months old.

A love of wrestling which began when she was in second grade has culminated in Kelli (Rasmussen) Metzger being named as the head coach of the Hopkins Wrestling Club for their 2020-21 inaugural season.

Kelli, who grew up in Winnebago, is the daughter of Dean and Retha. She has two older brothers, Rich and Todd.

“Yeah, I think I was in second grade and I asked my parents if I could wrestle since my two older brothers were wrestlers,” Kelli says. “Well, Dad took me to an open tournament in St. James and I did not know many moves. But I took first place and brought home a trophy and I was addicted.”

Kelli would go on to wrestle with the Winnebago Club Team in her elementary years.

“I remember Ted Armon was my coach in junior high at Blue Earth Area,” she shares.

She then moved on to become the first female varsity wrestler at Blue Earth Area, where the 5-foot-6 grappler wrestled at the 103 and 112-pound weight brackets.

“She was an excellent wrestler,” BEA head coach Randy Wirtjes recalls. “She was very skilled, had good technique.”

And she was successful.

“She was one match away from qualifying for the State Tournament,” Buc assistant wrestling coach Dave Pfaffinger remembers. “She was tough and did everything the guys did.”

Kelli also had some good memories of her time wearing the Maroon and Gold.

“A female wrestling on a high school team was pretty rare. But by the time I graduated in 2006, I felt a lot of support from coaches, teammates and even the referees,” she comments.

With her high school career coming to an end, she began searching for a way to continue participating in the sport she loves.

“At the time I graduated from BEA there were only eight or so colleges that had female wrestling teams,” she explains. “And none of them were close by.”

But she kept searching and came across the University of Regina, Saskatchewan.

“Regina was the best fit for my education and wrestling,” Kelli remarks. “And I fell in love with the campus.”

She attended school in Canada until suffering an elbow injury in November of 2008. During her time at Regina she continued to find success on the wrestling mat and was a two-time Conference All-American.

“I ended up transferring to Winona State University in 2009,” she says. “They had a student led club wrestling program.”

Her wrestling success continued at WSU where she was a two-time NCWA National Champion and Runner-up.

According to its website, the NCWA stands for National Collegiate Wrestling Association, a non-profit association of 162 institutions, conferences, organizations and individuals that organize the wrestling programs of many colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada.

Her wrestling bio states in addition to high school and collegiate wrestling, Kelli has also competed nationally, where she was a Cadet/Junior Women’s National Champion in 2003 and a Cadet/Junior Women’s National Runner-up in 2004. She had third place finishes in the same tournament in 2005 and 2006.

And though she loves wrestling, she did not take her education for granted

“I have a degree in physical education, development adaptive physical education and health education,” Kelli shares. “I currently teach physical education in the Minnetonka School District where I previously coached wrestling at Minnetonka Middle School.”

Kelli married her husband Derek in October of 2016 and the couple has now started their own family.

“We have a nine-month old little girl named Tearce,” Kelli says.

Others involved in the sport of wrestling are very excited to see Kelli named the head coach of the Hopkins Wrestling Club.

“Kelli has been a part of girls wrestling in Minnesota for nearly 20 years,” Chad Shilson, MN/USA Girls’ and Women’s Wrestling Director says. “She brings an understanding of both athlete and coach to this new position. We at MN/USA Wrestling and Minnesota Girls Wrestling are excited to see her help grow the sport in her new role.”

And growing the sport for girls is definitely one of Kelli’s goals.

“It is hard for girls to wrestle and be successful against guys in a state like Minnesota, where the quality of wrestling is so good,” she explains.

And although the sport of wrestling is currently a club sport for girls, Kelli has hope it will change.

“As we see the interest growing, I believe it will eventually be a sanctioned sport,” she comments.

And how does she feel about her new head coaching job?

“I am excited but a little nervous,” she states. “But I look forward to coaching the girls and seeing the improvements we can achieve.”