Beatriz Sanchez Pacios
While waiting for the varsity wrestling meet to get underway in the MHS fieldhouse Thursday night, Merrill High School wrestling coach Scott Arneson was surprised with the announcement of a life time service award from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Okla.
Before the wrestling match started, announcer Gerald Beyer read a statement from Seymour wrestling coach Keith Swett relaying the thrilling news for the well-known MHS coach.
“Because of his service to the wrestling community as a high school coach, a training center coordinator and a state cadet coach, Scott will be inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame on Sunday, April 9, and the Rock Garden in Green Bay. This ceremony recognizes Scott as one of the primary promoters of Wisconsin wrestling,” Swett said.
A list of Arneson’s accomplishments in his career followed.
“Scott has earned honors at all levels throughout Wisconsin. He has been recognized in the Rhinelander Athletic Hall of Fame, the Rhinelander Wrestling Hall of Fame, the UW Platteville Athletic Hall of Fame, the Merrill Wrestling Hall of Fame and the Wisconsin Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame. In addition to these great honors, he was also named coach of the year for the state of Wisconsin. And last but not least tonight Scott in being inducted into the National Hall of Fame.”
Following the announcement, Arneson was quick to share the credit with the community that supports Bluejay wrestling.
“I was just lucky enough to coach in Merrill, and with all my success in Merrill, I guess it’s recognized by somebody else,” he said. “It’s not me, it’s the community of Merrill.”
While the recognition is nice, Arneson said that’s not why he’s been coaching for 27 years and continues to be involved in wrestling at multiple levels. His goal has always been to teach the sport of wrestling.
“I’m still involved in the wrestling program, helping coach Suchocki as much as I can,” Arneson said, “I still do my summer wrestling which is called Northern Exposure, I’m a Wisconsin National Team coach for Greco, so I’m still involved in wrestling.
“I’m not going to go away, but I really felt it was important to let the new coaching staff find their own way and what they wanted to do,” he added. “I’ll continue to assist those guys and try to be a great assistant coach, like all those guys were to me.”
Arneson also wanted to express his gratitude towards his family.
“[They] have been awesome. My mom and dad taught me, I guess, how to be humble. And my family in Merrill allowed me to do the stuff I wanted to do as an individual,” he said. “So it’s pretty cool.”
Arneson was born and raised in Iowa, until his family moved to Rhinelander when he was in sixth grade. As a Hodag, Arneson qualified for the state high school wrestling tournament three times and won the state title as a senior in 1984.
In addition to the high school wrestling season, he competed for Team Wisconsin and was an All-American in Greco Roman.
While earning his teaching degree at UW-Platteville, Arneson continued his wrestling career as a four-time national qualifier, two-time NCAA All-American, a two-time Academic All-American, a three-time conference champion and was voted Outstanding Wrestler for the WIAC Conference his senior year.
In 1989, Arneson took a teaching job in Merrill, where he married his wife, Lauriel, and started a family. For the first several years in Merrill, Scott switched back and forth between the junior high and senior high schools, teaching and coaching wrestling. Following the retirement of Roger Wendorf, Scott became the head high school wrestling coach, a position he held for 17 years.
With Arneson at the helm, Bluejay wrestling teams posted an overall dual meet record of 300-88. Arneson and his coaching staff led 58 individual trips to the state tournament, bringing home 32 medals including seven state championships. In the team tournaments, the Bluejays placed five times, including a runner-up finish in 2006 and a third place finish in 2013.
In addition to coaching Merrill wrestling, Scott created the Northern Exposure Training site in 1990 where area wrestlers are trained in Freestyle and Greco Roman styles. For the past 15 years he has been the lead coach for Team Wisconsin in Greco Roman wrestling.
Past accolades include the Rhinelander Athletic Hall of Fame, the Rhinelander Wrestling Hall of Fame, the UW Platteville Athletic Hall of Fame, the Merrill Wrestling Hall of Fame and the Wisconsin Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Arneson has also been named coach of the year for the state of Wisconsin.