In the mid 1970s, J.D. Minch was coaching 8th-grade basketball at Cannelton in southern Indiana.
This past February, the retired North Montgomery wrestling coach joined an elite group when he stepped on the mat at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday night for the opening round of the IHSAA wrestling state finals.
Minch had qualified for the state finals as a wrestler for Mississinewa in 1973, before going on to wrestle at Purdue. He later took over the program at North Montgomery in 1985, sending eight Charger wrestlers to the state finals during his 25-year tenure. Cory Givens was his first qualifier in 1990.
“Going in there and walking in the parade of champions was just exhilarating for him and me,” Minch told the Journal Review back in 2011 when he was inducted into the Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
The very next year (1991) Minch coached Joe Labbe to North Montgomery’s first win at the state finals.
This season he achieved a bucket list item by also officiating a state finals.
After retiring in 2010, Minch decided to get into officiating full-time. He had held his license since arriving at North Montgomery in 1978 thanks to longtime local official Chuck Streetman, who passed away earlier this month. Streetman encouraged Minch to get his license when he was an assistant coach under John Welliever.
“When I started officiating, I wanted to get back (to the state finals), Minch said.
Despite wrestling in the state finals, coaching in them, and eventually becoming the tournament director for a number of years, Minch said he was very nervous before his first match on Friday night.
“I was as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof right before we got started,” He said. “All I did was pace.”
There were a number of controversy calls during the 2020 state finals, but Minch and the rest of the crew worked through them without incident.
“I took one call back in the state finals,” he said. “The kids moved on me and went right in front of the scoring table and it was a bang bang call out of bounds, and I thought the boy got around behind him, and from my angle that’s what it looked like. But my assistant said ‘no he still had his leg trapped,’ so I waved off the call and we explained it to the coach. I didn’t even wait for the coach to challenge it, I just went right over to the assistant and said ‘what did you have, you had a little bit better angle.’ And that’s why you have the assistant.”
In 2013, Nick Borta became the first North Montgomery wrestler to place at the state finals, followed by Tanner Webster and Seth Johnson, who both placed twice. All wrestlers that Minch worked with through the Normonco wrestling club.
This winter the Charger ties came full circle, as Minch officiated on one mat, and North Montgomery senior Drew Webster wrestled on another.
Now Minch can say he’s done it all.