CRESCO – A capacity crowd gathered at the Cresco Country Club Monday night to witness the induction of Arlin Severson, Stewart Carter and Mike Van Arsdale to the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame during its 42nd Annual Awards Banquet, which brought the total number hall of fame members to 100.
After Master of Ceremonies Dennis Meirick greeted the large group of wrestling fans, Jason Passmore of the Cresco Area Chamber of Commerce welcomed everyone to the banquet. Meirick requested a moment of silence in honor of past inductee, Dave Harty, who died last year. Pastor Michael Simiele presented the invocation before the meal.
Following the dinner, Meirick recognized high school and college coaches in attendance, which included Crestwood Head Coach Keith Slifka, Decorah Head Coach Jeff Freidhoff, Luther Head Coach Dave Mitchell and former Turkey Valley Coach Jim Arjes as well as other area coaches.
Meirick noted past hall of fame inductees in attendance including: Jim Miller, Joe Frank, Jim Gibbons, Bob Steenlage, Kevin Gibbons, Bob Roethler, Dan Gable, Bob Siddens, Tom Peckham and Chuck Yagla.
Members of the hall of fame board of directors were honored including: Meirick, Don Gooder, Jerome Hruska, Steve Slifka, Merle Sovereign, Tom Fye, Chuck Curtis and Jim Turvold.
Selection committee members honored included: Gooder, Gable, Jim Gibbons, Perry, Yagla, Miller, Bill Roths, Kevin Evans, Mike Duroe and Kyle Klingeman.
Bill Roths, head of officials at the Iowa State High School Tournament, introduced the 98th member of the hall of fame: Arlin Severson, who coached Roths at New Hampton High School. Severson coached at New Hampton from 1968-93 and tallied a dual meet record of 228-128-6, which include 62 conference champions and eight state champions.
Severson began his speech by thanking everyone who came to the banquet, including the large group of New Hampton fans in attendance.
He also thanked his wife, Mary Jane, who has been with him his entire wrestling life, which began in 1953 when he started wrestling at New Hampton. Arlin married Mary Jane soon after graduating from high school.
“I couldn’t afford to go to college because you needed good grades back then to get into college,” Severson noted.
After working for five years after high school, he was finally accepted to Adams State College in Colorado, where he graduated in three years. He worked in Michigan for one year before resigning in the spring of 1968.
“I heard New Hampton High School had an opening for a job as wrestling coach. I wanted this job, but the problem was all the teachers and the principal still remembered me,” Severson said with a laugh. “After applying for the job, I was told to come back in one hour. I came back and I got the job. It’s been a great run.”
He said he is honored to have his plaque on the wall at the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame.
“I’ve only missed this banquet twice in 42 years – once when I had a heart attack and once when I fell out of a tree,” Severson noted.
Past inductee and former Iowa State coach, Jim Gibbons, introduced the 99th inductee: Stewart Carter, who wrestled at Waterloo Columbus, was a walk-on at Iowa State as a freshman and he won an individual state title for the Cyclones in 1987.
“I am honored to be chosen to the hall of fame, and I will try to represent (the hall of fame) well,” Carter said. “I thank the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame, the selection committee, the board of directors, and I humbly accept induction in the hall.
“I also thank everyone here in Cresco (who came to the banquet). We share the common bond of wrestling.”
Carter also praised his mom for her support. “Even though she didn’t understand wrestling, she was in my corner.”
He thanked his brothers and his coaches for pushing him to succeed. He thanked his wife, his kids and his wife’s parents for attending the banquet.
“When I first started wrestling, my goal was just to have fun, but I kept at it, and my efforts paid off. Patience, confidence and perseverance came through for me. I am the person I am today because of wrestling,” Carter said.
Jim Gibbons also introduced the 100th hall of fame inductee: Mike Van Arsdale, who won a state title at Waterloo West as a junior, won a NCAA Division I title at Iowa State, won a University National Freestyle championship and was a three-time All-American at Iowa State.
Van Arsdale congratulated Severson and Carter on their induction, praised his wife and kids and thanked his family for all their encouragement.
“My parents always told me I could do whatever I wanted to do, and I always thought about doing something great. I had great support from my mom and dad,” Van Arsdale said.
“The only sport I was good in was wrestling. As soon as I hit the mat that first time, I loved the sport,” VanArsdale noted.
He said he cut a lot of weight in high school in order to wrestle, including skipping lunch.
“I used to walk by the photos of the champions at school and think about what they went through in order to become champs.
“When I was at Iowa State, I studied the history of the past wrestlers and I told myself I was going to make my opponents pay for trying to take away my dreams (of a national championship).
“For all the young people, I tell them to follow their dreams. I saw the world and wrestling took me there. Listen to your parents, but also listen to your own heart and you can be successful. As long as you do your very best, you will never forget it,” Van Arsdale noted.
Dennis Meirick concluded the banquet by reading an e-mail from 1984 inductee Les Anderson, who congratulated the new inductees and welcomed them to the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Article courtesy of Nate Troy, Cresco Times Plain Dealer