SAUK CENTRE, Minn. – Ken Vogt feels blessed for the opportunities he has had in his lifetime.
    “I don’t know how many people have the luxury of being employed with two jobs that they love doing,” Vogt said. “I had both, coaching and farming.”
    With 44 years of coaching wrestling under his belt, Vogt is being inducted into the Minnesota Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame April 24 in Austin.
    The 69-year-old and his two sons, Ethan and Aaron, milk 330 cows on their Stearns County farm near Sauk Centre.
    “I coached both my boys, and for the most part it was great,” Vogt said. “You know you’re harder on your own kids and that was tough. But, if it was that bad, we wouldn’t be farming together now.”
    Vogt’s coaching career almost did not happen.
    When he was 22 years old, he returned from the University of New Mexico where he had wrestled for two years and then served as an assistant coach. This was after he spent two years wrestling at Wilma State Junior College. He returned home to work on the family’s dairy farm. That is when he got a call from former Sauk Centre Athletic Director Dick Schmitz.
    “He asked me if I was going to be home for good,” Vogt said. “He said, ‘You have a teaching license, and we don’t have a wrestling coach. I want you to come and talk to me.’”
    At the time, Vogt’s days were busy with milking cows and feeding calves. Coaching wrestling? He had to get permission from the boss – his dad.
    “Farmers weren’t involved with much of anything outside of the farm and church,” Vogt said. “When I decided to coach, my dad said he wasn’t milking another cow. He stuck to his word, too, and good thing, I suppose. I would’ve probably abused it otherwise.”
    Vogt has coached for 44 years, 39 as a head coach and, until this past year when COVID-19 hit, he was still a volunteer coach in the Sauk Centre program.
    When he started coaching, Vogt went all in on the program, building it into one of the most successful programs in the region. By the time he retired, the program had developed nine individual state champions. The number of state participants he coached is too many to remember.
    “There were so many great kids who came through our program,” he said. “Great families. Kids who worked hard and put in the time to be the best they could be.”
    Juggling farm work and coaching was not easy in the beginning. Vogt said he relied a lot on his older brother, Lee, and his younger brother, Steve, who also co-coached with Vogt for two years.
    “Without them at that time, it would’ve been pretty difficult,” Vogt said.
    As time went on, former wrestlers would also chip in on the farm so Vogt could be at practices or meets.
    “A lot of times before matches, the JV coach would have to do the weigh-ins so I could finish the feeding on the farm,” Vogt said. “At least wrestling was held in the winter time so I didn’t have to do field work.”
    But wintertime meant that the silo unloader did not always work very well. Vogt would wake at 3 a.m. during the season and bring down enough feed from the silo for whoever was doing evening chores while he was at practice or a match.
    Later in his coaching career, Vogt juggled chores with his children as they, too, kept busy at school and on the mat.
    “With Ethan and Aaron, we would wrestle and then come home and do chores,” Vogt said. “My daughter, Ann, helped too. Everybody worked.”
    Vogt’s coaching style centered on discipline and accountability. His hard-nosed style often came from experiences on the farm, like picking rock or fieldwork.
    “I can remember the kids getting really tired and didn’t feel like practicing,” Vogt said. “I used to tell them that when we were baling hay, we didn’t quit when we were tired. We quit when we were done. That’s the mentality. You keep going until you’re done, until the match or practice is over.”
    His style worked as the Sauk Centre wrestling program grew to one of prominence. Vogt said his third hall of fame nod is not because of his coaching but because of the kids’ commitment over the years.
    “They are the ones who put in the work,” he said. “Wrestling takes a lot of work, and those kids put in the time and the effort. I am getting the recognition because of them.”
    It has been 47 years since Vogt asked his dad if he could coach wrestling, and the dairy farmer is arguably more appreciative now of the chance he was given so many years ago.
    “When you’re coaching and farming, you become an ambassador of sorts. You become an ambassador for agriculture and it was fun,” Vogt said. “It’s been great. I have been blessed. There’s no doubt about it.”