A legend returning to Morning Sun

By Matt Levins For The Predicament

Bob Darrah

MORNING SUN — Sixty years ago, a young man with glasses, a head full of ideas and a belly full of fire, walked into the Morning Sun High School with a dream.

In just a few short years, Bob Darrah not only helped build the Morning Sun gymnasium, he constructed one of the top wrestling programs in the state, one that is still talked about to this day, nearly three decades after the Tigers wrestled their final match.

Darrah went on to a Hall of Fame coaching career, finishing with a 340-17-2 career record, second to none.

Darrah will be back in the place he called home and where the town still takes great pride in Darrah and wrestling. Darrah will be signing copies of his new book, "Bobby D: It's not the destination, it's the journey. Ready? Wrestle!" from 4-6 p.m. today at the Morning Sun Community Center. Also in attendance will be Dan McCool, who co-authored the book with Darrah, as well as Morning Sun's first son, Tim Johnson, the voice of college wrestling. Nick Hobbs, another Morning Sun legend, also will be on hand.

In between signing books, there are sure to be plenty of stories told by Darrah, who has a lifetime of wrestling memories to share.

"Everybody seems to really like (the book). No one has thrown one at me yet," McCool said. "You listen to (Darrah) and Al Baxter and people around him day after day and guys like Tim Johnson who want to have him in their corner, it makes you realize what an impact he had on so many people. That tells you something about the man. Everyone loves the man. If Bob asked for help, people would take the first plane to Indianola and probably fight one another to do it. It's amazing the feelings and memories people have after this many years."

Darrah, who is originally from Marshaltown but grew up in Chariton, started the wrestling program at Morning Sun in 1962 and stayed there through the 1966-67 season, compiling a remarkable 50-3 record. He built the Tigers' program from the ground up to one of the elite programs in the state before moving on to Urbandale for two years, then West Des Moines Dowling for 21 years before taking over the wrestling and women's golf programs at Simpson College in 1989.

McCool said Darrah approached him about doing a book, a project that took roughly a year. McCool, one of the best wrestling writers in history, said he had more fun watching and listening to Darrah than he did in writing the book.

"We were sitting there watching some old videos and he could tell you exactly what each guy was doing wrong and what he needed to do different. He was really getting into it," McCool said. "It got to the point where I was watching him and not the video. It was pretty cool just to watch him and listen to him."

Today, Darrah and McCool will be on hand for the book signing event, with 150 copies of the book available for purchase. As for the stories, well, they are priceless.

"I really enjoy going to Morning Sun. They lost their high school in 1990, but they never lost that deep. deep love for wrestling," McCool said. "It's so fun to be around people like that. It's going to be a blast."