A local wrestling coach will be getting inducted into the IHSA Hall of Fame tomorrow after a three-decade long career. Ken Mansell, athletic director and wrestling coach at the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired, will receive the honor today in Champaign before the start of the state wrestling tournament.
Mansell started his coaching career 33 years ago at Carlinville High School before taking over as the head coach at Quincy Notre Dame High School where he built the program from the bottom up. Mansell said he was proud to see some of the wrestlers that he had coached from elementary students move all the way to the state podium in the programs that he had been a part of from the beginning. He was especially proud of hearing from those wrestlers whom he said weren’t as successful in the victory column but came back later to tell him how much wrestling and his coaching had helped them become who they were as people later on.
While in Quincy, Mansell’s teams went 307-233 with two regional championships, and his 2010-11 team won a school record 18 matches and advanced to the Class 1A state tournament. His teams at QND had reached double digits in victories for 11 consecutive seasons before last year’s team posted a 3-17 record. He left Quincy holding the most wins all time, nearly 132 more victories than the previous coaches combined. While at Quincy, he was named the Illinois Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year in 2000-01.
Mansell gained his 350th career win in December while at his current job at ISVI. His teams have gone 26 and 24 during his 4 years at the school, including achieving double-digit wins for only the 2nd time in the school’s program history. Mansell’s roots in Jacksonville go deeper, as he was a 1995 inductee into the MacMurray College athletic Hall of Fame. As a wrestler, Mansell was a 3-time NCAA qualifier and a 1987 4th place NCAA All-American.
Mansell said he was truly honored and humbled by the recognition, but attributes his success to the student-athletes he’s had the pleasure of coaching over his career.