1-on-1 with head wrestling coach Pete Di Pol

Story by Megan Henry

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Q: What is your wrestling experience?

A: Essentially, it’s my life. I’ve been wrestling since I was 5 and I’ve been coaching for 17 years. I was a head high school coach for 11 years and my teams won five state championships, and we were ranked Top 20 in the country four or five years. Then the last two years, I was at a junior college where we finished fourth in the country and fifth in the country.

Head coach Pete Di Pol.

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Q: What brought you to Baker?

A: I saw the advertisement for the open position and I really wanted to get out of coaching at the junior college level since it was part-time. When I came out here and interviewed, I fell in love…

The campus and the people and the president, the athletic director — everyone I met in the interview was really nice, and I just like it out here. Everything’s calm and peaceful compared to where I come from.

Q: How has the transition into your first season at Baker been so far?

A: The transition’s been great. (Former head coach Jimmy) May has helped me out tremendously, being a positive role model and an outstanding mentor to me. And my assistant Levi Calhoun has made things really easy for me. There’s a lot involved with this position and he knows a lot from being here and I rely on him heavily on all aspects of the program.

Q: How do you and your assistant coach Levi Calhoun get along?

A: I met Levi and I could tell I liked him, which is kind of funny because I don’t think he liked me that much at first because he heard I was from New Jersey and he’s a Midwestern guy. But we have a good working relationship, you know, once he got to know me.

Q: Is there a difference between the way you coach compared to Coach May?

A: That’s a tough question. I think it’s just different. Our styles are different. He had a lot of success with his style. He has a proven track record, and I think I’ve had a lot of success with my styles. There’s definitely a difference in the way we approach practice, but I think that both ways have worked.

Q: What are your expectations for the team this year?

A: I think we have an outstanding team. We were just ranked 14th in the country, and I like the fact that we’re not ranked real high because I think we’re really going to shock people this year. Our team goal is to win a national title and the wrestlers believe in that. Whatever happens, we’re just going to go out and give 100 percent and represent Baker University in a positive way.

Q: What do you hope to get out of this year?

A: We really want to get (Baker fans) out to our matches. Our kids are working hard and we want to promote getting the Baker student body out to support us. Seriously, people who have never been to a wrestling match, I think they’d enjoy it. We’re just asking them to give it a shot and come check it out because they might like it. I really think we’re going to be good.