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Kenneth Droegemueller, a former Osseo High School wrestling coach, was known for helping athletes reach their full potential.

Droegemueller, who was a constant presence at the state high school wrestling tournament for three decades, died Sunday at his Maple Grove home of complications from cancer.

He was 65.

As a varsity coach, he compiled a 440-145-4 record.

"He always put the kids first," said his assistant coach at Osseo High, Woody Ferry. "He wanted them to have an experience that they were going to cherish."

After graduating from high school in Windom, Minn., Droegemueller wrestled for Mankato State University, where he earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics in 1965.

For a couple of years, he taught math at Northfield High School and coached various levels of wrestling. He moved to Worthington to coach its high school team in 1968 and joined the Osseo staff in 1977.

During 31 seasons at Worthington and Osseo, he coached 16 state individual champions. His Osseo teams won 17 section titles during the last 19 years of his coaching career.

Droegemueller lacked an ego and was generous to all comers, letting others show his athletes moves, Ferry said. "Don't hurt the kids, and don't hurt yourself," he would tell them, Ferry said.

Droegemueller's son Dave of Plymouth, assistant wrestling coach at Wayzata High School, said his father had superior teaching techniques that helped average wrestlers "reach their fullest potential."

He taught skills in series, "so guys would develop skills throughout the year, and develop them correctly," said his son.

Dave was state champion in 1985 and 1986. Son Darren, now of Champlin, won state championships in 1985 and 1988.

Droegemueller began wrestling partly because of his size as a youngster.

"How many 5-foot basketball players do you see?" he told the Star Tribune in 1999, when he retired from teaching and coaching.

In college, he finished fourth as a junior and second as a senior in national meets.

He was elected to the Minnesota Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2005.

After he retired, he continued to help run the state tournament. Also for many years he organized, led and coached youth wrestling activities.

In addition to his sons, he is survived by his daughter, Deanne Moore of Hermosa Beach, Calif.; brothers Wally of Plymouth and Roger of Windom; a sister, Dawn Vaske of Worthington; a companion, Margaret Sausen of Plymouth; former wife, Barbara of New Hope, and four grandchildren.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church, 9141 County Road 101, Maple Grove.

Visitation will be held from at 10 a.m. today at the church.