the 2009 wrestling season came to a close,
Coach Dick Carpenter concluded the longest coaching
tenure in the storied sports history of
Centralia High school (42 years).
In 1966, he returned
to his alma mater, and in 1967 he
wrestling program where he guided his teams to six South Seven Conference titles
with 19 individuals qualifying for
coached over 400 team victories. His
teams won District titles in 1973, 1974,
1978, and 1980 and won a Regional title in 2005
Carpenter also served as Assistant
Football Coach, Head Football Coach
(1980-1983), and Head Baseball Coach
(1983-1990) while at CHS.
In 1989, a scholarship was established in
his name by the Centralia Wrestling
Boosters, to be awarded to qualifying
wrestlers to further their college
The following article is reprinted by
permission of the Centralia Sentinel:
Carpenter calls it a career
43 years, legendary head wrestling coach
announces his retirement at Centralia High
March 26, 2010
By Mike McManus
Sentinel Sports Staff
CENTRALIA — A decade ago, Dick Carpenter taught his final classes at Centralia High School.
And now, 10 years later, Carpenter has finally blown the whistle on his coaching career.
On Thursday night, the Centralia High School Board of Education accepted Carpenter’s letter of resignation as the only head wrestling coach the school has ever known.
It was a career that spanned an amazing total of 43 years, making the 73-year-old Carpenter one of the longest tenured coaches in the state of Illinois in any sport.
“I thought it was probably time for me to get out and give it to someone else,” said Carpenter, who earlier in the month at the CHS wrestling banquet announced his intent to retire. “I think it needs to be someone who is at the school.”
Carpenter spent most of his life in Centralia. A 1954 graduate of Centralia Township High School, he went on to further his education at SIU-Carbondale and also spent three years in the military.
He accepted his first teaching position in St. Louis before coming home to start the Centralia wrestling program in 1967, and Carpenter found success almost immediately. His Orphans bagged six South Seven Conference championships and Centralia claimed four district titles (1973-74-78 and 1980) and the Orphans garnered a regional championship in 2005.
In all, Carpenter’s teams won more than 450 matches and he had more than 20 wrestlers represent Centralia at the IHSA State Wrestling Tournament.
“There has been a lot of change,” Carpenter said. “And most of it has been all for the better. We’ve gone from a one- to a two- and now to a three-class system for the postseason. I’ve heard a lot of people say that it has watered it down, but I look at the good it has done. It has given more the kids the chance to compete and more of a chance to be seen.
“When we first started, those teams had to go up against the big schools like Belleville and Granite City. Had there been three classes then, or even two, our record could possibly even be better than what it is. But to me, it was never all about wins and losses. It was about getting kids into athletics and to hopefully have what they learned in athletics help them out later on in life.”
Carpenter said there has been only one drawback in his time spent as the face of the Centralia program.
“The only thing I regret is that we never had a medal winner at state,” Carpenter said.
Inducted into the Centralia Sports Hall of Fame in 1997, Carpenter also served as the head football coach at Centralia from 1980-83 and was the Orphans’ head coach in baseball from 1983-90. While he surrendered those posts, however, wrestling always stayed near his heart, even after he retired as an educator in 2000.
“I was ready to be done teaching, but I wasn’t really ready to get out of the coaching,” Carpenter said. “But since I retired from teaching, I feel like I might have missed out on some kids because I wasn’t at the school.”
Carpenter said he made the decision that this would be last season at the helm early in the year.
“There are some good kids who are going to be back next year and hopefully for the next couple of years,” Carpenter said. “So it is going to be a little tough, but it was time for me to go.”