Originally, the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame Board decided to add more signage to Cresco to encourage residents and visitors to visit the Hall of Fame. Through grant writing, research, and understanding the project better, the sign-project became a mural-project. A public-private partnership was forged between the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame and local business owner, Christine Minear, and the wall next to the Hall of Fame was obtained.
The Hall of Fame Board commissioned local artist, Robin Macomber, and planning began. Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame knows wrestling. Macomber knows art. This 40-foot mural surpassed everyone's expectations and features Dan Gable, Dr. Norman Borlaug, Gary Kurdelmeier, and Dr. Harold Nichols.
The Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame invites you to the Hall of Fame to hear more stories about wrestling and how important Iowa is to the sport from a local to international level. You won't be disappointed!
The Mural in the News
October 28, 2015 | Cresco Times Plain Dealer, Marcie Klomp
Cresco – There were approximately 250 people, young and old, on hand to witness the dedication of the Iowa Wrestling Hall Of Fame mural. The free hot dogs and lemonade might have attracted a few folks, but they stuck around to experience the dedication ceremony. Dan Gable, University of Iowa’s all-time winningest coach, from1976-97, was the featured speaker. As he stood in front of the pillar depicting his Olympic gold medal and coaching expertise, Gable was particularly interested in the young wrestlers sitting in front. He told members of Cresco Youth Wrestling how important practice is, bringing up Michael Millage, who won the State Wrestling title at 106 pounds. All the young wrestlers sparked at Millage’s name, a mentor to many of the youngsters. “As good as he was last year, making state champion, if he’s just as good as he was last year, he won’t win this year. He has to be better.” At that, Gable looked in the crowd, asking if the champion would step forward. He was told Millage had been there earlier, but had left to go to practice. Gable joked, “By him not waiting for me, I’m going to kick his butt! But it’s the right thing to do—practice.”
The wrestling giant went on to relate a story about his own idol and friend, Cresco’s own Tom Peckham. So it goes there was a snowstorm back in young Peckham’s high school days. There wasn’t any school, so no practice. The dedicated wrestler wouldn’t have any of that—he went outside and wrestled two sows. “I think he beat them both,” Gable smiled. On a serious note, the coach of 12 Olympians stated that as a high schooler, he wrestled for West Waterloo Warhawks. He acknowledged the greatness of the Cresco wrestling program, “If I didn’t wrestle for the Warhawks, I would have wanted to wrestle here.” He added “I’m really honored. I’m really humbled.” He did challenge the town and IWHOF board to promote wrestling even further. “This is a great start!”
The event started off with a book-signing with Gable. The Crestwood band and cheerleaders performed their routines and songs. VFW 4561 and American Legion 135 presented the colors and Michaela Pinter, Hannah Sheehy, Dawson Gosch, Carter Dull, Meredith Sheehy and Rachel Russell sang the National Anthem. Master of Ceremonies Dennis Meirick, president of the IWHOF, gave a brief history of the Hall of Fame. He noted Don Gooder of Cresco was one of the founding members of the IWHOF. He also introduced Joe Frank, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003. Other speakers included:
- Mayor Mark Bohle, who noted, “The board has worked hard to continue the promotion of amateur wrestling in Iowa. The City of Cresco appreciates all of the Board’s efforts in setting up the Hall of Fame and for having the annual awards banquets since 1970.
- Jason Passmore, Executive Director of Howard County Business &Tourism, thanked all the people and organizations who partnered to make the mural a reality. “Jim [Turvold] took the ball and ran with it,as well as all the board members. If you haven’t been in the Hall of Fame [located inside the Welcome Center/Chamber], it’s one of the best-kept secrets in town.”
- Christine Minear, who owns The Exchange, Cresco the building on which the mural is painted, said, “I would like to thank the IWHOF board for allowing me to be part of this. It was an honor to be asked to provide a home for this mural.”
- Robin Macomber, mural artist, was overcome with emotion at the kind words and turnout for the event that showcased her talent. “This is what makes Cresco great!” she said of the crowd gathered. She noted she is a self-taught artist. She spent 138 hours on the mural in 58-98 degree weather. Macomber ended her time saying she wants to comeback every year to change the numbers for Crestwood Olympians (currently three), NCAA Champions (nine), State Team Titles (seven) and State Champions (65). In other words, “Go Cadets!”
October 14, 2015 | Marcie Klomp, Cresco Times Plain Dealer
- 4:30 – Gable book-signing inside the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame
- 4:45 – Crestwood Band and cheerleaders, free hot dogs and lemonade on the street
- 5:25 – Colors presented by Cresco VFW and American Legion, followed by the National Anthem
- 5:30 – Dedication program – artist Robin MacComber, Dan Gable,others
“Currently 117 native Iowans are enshrined in the Hall” stated Meirick. “Of those 117, 13 have ties to Cresco. We’re extremely proud of all 117, but especially proud of the 13 from Cresco. We want the entire Cresco community to take part in this dedication, and enjoy the moment of celebrating these individuals from Cresco, and all of Iowa.” Listed here are the 13 IWHOF members from Cresco, along with the year inducted and a brief bio. Their accomplishments are highlighted on one of the panels in the mural.
1970 – Chris Flanagan: legendary high school coach at Cresco
1970 – Bob Hess: state champ, 2X NCAA champ, 4th 1932 Olympics
1970 – Dr. Harold Nichols: NCAA champ, head coach at ISU 32 years
1973 – Dr. Dave Bartelma: coach at Cresco and U of MN
1976 – Cecil Cameron: 2X state champ, HS coach
1978 – Gary Kurdelmeier: 2X state champ, NCAA champ, U of IA coach
1980 – Dale Hanson: 2X state champ, NCAA champ, 1940 Olympian
1985 – Tom Peckham: 3X HS champ, 2X NCAA champ, 4th 1968 Olympics
1987 – Gene Lyybert: 1987, NCAA champ, HS coach
1990 – Don Nichols: 2X state champ, NCAA champ
2003 – Joe Frank: HS state Champ, ISU captain, HS coach
2004 – Dr. Norman Borlaug: “The Man Who Saved A Billion Lives”
2014 – Founders Bob Howard, Nehl McKone and Don Gooder
Everyone is invited to step into the Hall of Fame and learn all about these special men. The Hall is located in the Cresco Welcome Center and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
September 30, 2015 | Marcie Klomp, Cresco Times Plain Dealer
Over the past month, Robin Macomber has been working diligently to finish the mural. She was commissioned by the IWHOF board, who gave her some ideas and then allowed her imagination to run wild. It is hard to say what catches a person’s eye first—the colors, the men on display or the red, white and blue ribbon that weaves its way through the three sections.
The four wrestling greats represented include Dan Gable, Dr. Harold Nichols, Gary Kurdelmeier and Dr. Norman Borlaug. Member of the board Jim Turvold explained, “The board decided who would be on the mural. We simply said we would use who was the most recognizable. Dan Gable was unanimous. He is the most notable.” There are two pictures of Gable, one as an Olympian and the other as University of Iowa wrestling coach. The three in the middle are Nichols, Kurdelmeier and Borlaug. On the left is Cresco bragging about its winners, including three Olympic champions, nine NCAA champions, seven state team titles and 65 state champions. “We fell in love immediately,” Turvold said of seeing the rough draft.
Macomber, who has done murals all over the United States, was happy to do this one. Although most of her work is private commission for individuals, she enjoys doing the large murals as well. She has been painting full-time since 1996. It took her about four rainy and hot weeks to finish the mural and says the paint used was a regular outdoor name-brand. It should last 20-25years. Macomber also plans to do touch-ups as time necessitates. The mural is being funded by grants—$3,000 from Howard County Community Foundation and $1,000 from the City of Cresco through a tourism grant (motel/hotel tax). It is also supported by The Exchange Cresco. Owner Christine Minear noted, “I hope people like the artwork because that’s what we’re all about.” The Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame was organized in 1970 to promote amateur wrestling in Iowa. Since 1970, the local Board of Directors has hosted an annual awards banquet to honor individuals nominated for induction by the Selection Committee.
To learn more about these amazing individuals, check out Iowa’s Wrestling Hall of Fame inside the Welcome Center or find it online at the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame website. A dedication of the mural is planned for a future date, when Gable will be able to attend and sign his name by his picture. Look for more information on this in the Times Plain Dealer.