Charlie PingletonMishawaka High School in northern Indiana posted this message on its Facebook page that not only pays tribute to the fallen wrestler-turned-coach, but summarizes his life and career highlights: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Pingleton and Greencastle Wrestling Family after the passing of coach Charlie Pingleton. Charlie was a State Runner-up at Greencastle HS, a former UIndy DII All-American, and National Champion at Lindsey Wilson College all before returning home to coach at Greencastle. Charlie was a devoted husband, father, coach, friend, and role model. The Mishawaka Wrestling Family sends our deepest condolences."
One week before Pingleton's passing, Lindsey Wilson College announced he was one of three alums to be welcomed into the Kentucky school's Athletics Hall of Fame in October. In February, Pingleton was inducted into the IHSWCA Indiana Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Pingleton's accomplishments in wrestling were hall-of-fame worthy.
As a wrestler at Greencastle High School southwest of Indianapolis, Pingleton was a two-time state runner-up, two-time semi-state champion, two-time regional champion and four-time sectional champion. He was also a four-time WCC and Putnam County champion. At Greencastle, he compiled an overall record of 165-9, going 54-1 as a senior.
After graduating from Greencastle High, Pingleton headed east to launch his collegiate wrestling career at the University of Indianapolis, where he twice earned All-American status. He then transferred to Lindsey Wilson College, where he became the program's first-ever individual national champion after winning the 157-pound bracket at the 2012 NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) National Championships. Pingleton concluded his career at LWC as the school's first Mid-South Conference Wrestler of the Year.
Pingleton stayed at LWC to launch his coaching career. He joined the Blue Raider coaching ranks as an assistant for two years. He helped guide Lindsey Wilson to back-to-back fifth-place finishes at the 2012-13 and 2013-14 NAIA national championships.
Pingleton returned to his alma mater to head up the Greencastle High School wrestling program in October 2014.
A number of individuals who coached Pingleton weighed in with their thoughts about the wrestler/coach upon his passing.
"Charlie was one of the toughest people I ever coached -- not only physically, but more importantly, his mental toughness was special," said former Greencastle teacher/coach Jarrod Duff. "I've used him as an example many times as a coach in talking about toughness, and overcoming adversity. Coaching him made me a better coach, and a better person."
Lindsey Wilson College head wrestling coach Corey Ruff said, "Charlie was a mentor to all of the members of our new wrestling program at Lindsey Wilson College. He really took on the big brother role, and inspired everyone to push themselves."
"Charlie had a toughness that everyone could see, but he had a tenderness to him that just made me want to hug him. He was courageous and humble. Funny and sincere. Compassionate and confident. He was so many things, but what I'll probably cherish the most about Charlie was his loyalty."
"When he called me to tell me he had brain tumors a while back, it was another 'I cry' moment," said former Greencastle wrestling coach Dan Struck. "Shortly after he wrote me a Facebook message telling me that he in fact did read the letter I wrote to him in high school telling him I believed in him. All those years and I never knew he read it. Never knew if I meant anything to him -- if he was one of just 1000s of students I had had. He was special to me, I had no idea how special I was to him. I'd tell him I loved him every time we met."
Funeral services for Charlie Pingleton have yet to be made public.