IWHOF News Articles

IWHOF welcomes wrestling writer Andy Hamilton

The Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame welcomed a new friend to the Hall on Tuesday, April 22, 2021. Kyle Klingman, Dan Gable Museum Director, brought writer, Andy Hamilton to the IWHOF for the first time and we had lots of fun talking wrestling. We hope this isn’t the last time we get to visit!

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Check out the IWHOF Facebook Page

Check out the IWHOF Facebook Page at Iowawhof.

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Celebrating Black History Month at the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame

As we celebrate Black History Month, we are recognizing
some of the many wrestlers who have made a significant impact.

We are especially proud of our IWHOF Inductees; Simon O. Roberts,
Dr. Jason Smith, Stewart Carter and Mike VanArsdale.
#thisiswhatawrestlerlookslike  #SportForAll
#iowawrestlinghalloffame

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2021 Border Battle canceled

The IWHOF Board regrets to announce the 2021 Border Battle is canceled.
Please join us in 2022.

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2021 IWHOF Banquet canceled

The Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame Board regrets to announce the 2021 IWHOF Banquet & Induction Ceremony is canceled.
We look forward to celebrating in 2022.

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IWHOF Board Member Tours the Hall of Fame

It’s always a treat when Cresco wrestling fans bring family to the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame. Thanks to Jerome & Norma Hruska for stopping by with daughter Cindy to take a tour of the Hall of Fame.

Of course, Jerome’s forgotten more about wrestling than we will ever know.
Hruska was a three-time State Qualifier at Cresco High School. He was the Southwestern Community College wrestling head coach from 1967-68, and he was the head coach at Creston High School from 1969-79, where he compiled a 100-13-2 dual record. He also coached 38 State Tournament Qualifiers, including 19 State place winners at Creston.
Coach Hruska is credited for setting the tone of hard work, dedication, excellence, and high expectations into the Panther Wrestling Program and was in the first Induction Class of the Creston Wrestling Hall of Fame. Thanks to one of our favorite IWHOF Board Members for stopping by!

 

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What a way to end the year for Utah Wrestling fans!

What do two hunters from Utah do on their down time while in Cresco?
Visit the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame, of course.

Taking a break, these four stopped in to talk wrestling. Thanks Caleb & Jeremy Lienhard and new friends Kerry & Rusty Farnsworth for the visit.

Say ‘hello’ to your cousin, Cael Sanderson, next time you see him and let him know we have his autograph here at the IWHOF!

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Dan Gable, Iowa’s Wrestling Legend, Honored with Medal of Freedom

On December 7, 2020 the first wrestler in history, legendary Dan Gable, was
awarded the Medal of Freedom.

Congratulations Dan as you join another legendary Iowan and Cresco native,
Dr. Norman Borlaug
, as a medal recipient. Find out more about IWHOF Inductee
and Selection Committee member Dan Gable here.

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Visiting your Brother at the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame

A fun day at the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame when Raymond Hassman stopped in for a visit. Raymond is a brother to Inductee Gordon Hassman and we got to hear some good stories along the tour. We even found out Maynard “Spade” Harman was Raymond’s 8th grade teacher!

On his way to visit his father, we wanted to give an IWHOF shout-out to Raymond & Gordon’s father, Paul Hassman, New Hampton, Iowa’s first state wrestling champion and 106 year old resident. Thanks for the visit, Raymond, come back soon.

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What do you do when you’re on Thanksgiving break?

Wrestling fans, James & Jean, took a break from their Freedom Rock tour to check out the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame.
During the tour, James spied his relative, Inductee Larry Hayes.
Thanks for stopping by the IWHOF during your Thanksgiving break.
Stay safe out there and hope to see you back soon.

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Check out who’s Mom visited the IWHOF

On a beautiful day in Iowa, Laura and Dick Mattoon drove all the way from Ankeny to visit the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame in Cresco.
Laura is the mother of Kevin Dresser, head coach of the Iowa State University wrestling program. They were here in 2014 when Dresser was inducted into the IWHOF. We had a nice visit and heard some new stories about our native born Iowans in the Hall of Fame.

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Visitors from Ames

Hitting the road on their motorcycles, John & Chris Kinley ended up in Cresco at the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame. We don’t know who had more fun – us or the Kinleys. We do know we learned a lot and made two new friends. We expect this will not be the last visit and we look forward to their return.

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A NEW TRADITION FOR CRESCO WRESTLING

A new chapter in Cresco’s rich wrestling history was forged recently

when state champions Laken Lienhard and Carter Fousek signed their names

to the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame mural in Cresco. The tradition of

signing the mural began last year after Fousek won his first state title

as a freshman.

 

Laken is the first female state champion from Crestwood while Fousek is

the first two-time state champion from Crestwood since Chuck Martens won

titles in 1982 and 1983.

 

The additional two state titles now has Crestwood/Cresco individual

state titles at 69, the second highest number in the state behind West Waterloo’s 89.

“The addition of autographs to the mural was done to honor the wrestler

and not be just a number in Cresco’s wrestling history,” IWHOF Chairman

Dennis Meirick said.

 

The last time Crestwood/Cresco High School had multiple state champions

in one year was in 1982 when Chuck Martens and Jeff Knutson won titles.

Before that in 1961 Don Henry, Omar Frank, and Tom Peckham all won

individual state titles. The year before that Richard Schmauss, Merlin

Schmauss, Tom Peckham and Alex Egorenko all won individual titles. The

1960 team also won the state team title.

 

“The left banner of the mural was created so visitors can gain an

understanding of why the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame is in Cresco. It

recognizes our rich heritage and adding these two to our history is our

honor,” Meirick concluded.

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Wrestling Fans visit IWHOF

Wrestling Fans, Craig Schwienebart and Rad Alger, visited the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame this summer. This was Craig’s first time at the Hall of Fame (Craig was an undefeated 1983 Class 1A State Champion from B-C-L) while Rad, brother of Inductee Royce Alger, stops by often (We love Rad’s stories).

G. Wyatt and Kirsten Schultz also visited the IWHOF this summer.  Schultz, publisher of The Predicament, was selected as an Inductee in 2020. We are looking forward to the Induction Ceremony in April 2021 as we welcome back G. Wyatt Schultz to the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame.

It is always a good day at the IWHOF when visitors stop by.

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HawkFanatic’s Pat Harty: “Gary Kurdelmeier’s vision and unselfishness helped build the Iowa wrestling dynasty”

IOWA CITY, IowaGary Kurdelmeier passed away in early October 1998 at the age of just 62.

Unfortunately, I never met him and that’s my loss.

Because without Kurdelmeier’s unselfishness, innovation and vision, the legend of Dan Gable probably wouldn’t have had a Hawkeye connection.

Former Iowa NCAA wrestling champion Chuck Yagla was the guest on the HawkFanatic/KCJJ radio show and podcast on Monday and he talked in great detail about how Kurdelmeier managed to convince Gable to leave his alma mater, Iowa State University, where Gable had become an Olympic Gold Medalist and a living legend, to be an assistant coach under Kurdelmeier at Iowa.

Yagla also talked about how Kurdelmeier almost immediately began paving the way for Gable to succeed him as head coach because Kurdelmeier knew that Gable was special, and that time was fleeting.

Kurdelmeier stepped aside after just four seasons as head coach. He had led Iowa to two NCAA titles with Gable at his side.

Kurdelmeier was only 39 years old during his final season as the head wrestling coach at Iowa. He resigned shortly after the 1976 season to become Iowa’s assistant athletic director.

“He coached four years and then turned it over to coach Gable, and of course, then everybody knows what happened, huge dynasty, won nine consecutive national titles,” Yagla said of Gable’s success at Iowa. “So it was just amazing what he did to get that going; number one, to get coach Gable there, and number two, to realize that coach Gable needed to be the head coach and needed that opportunity.

“So I give a lot credit for turning that over to coach Gable.”

Kurdelmeier, according to Yagla, used a unique and clever sales pitch in trying to entice Gable to join his staff shortly after Gable had won a Gold Medal at the 1972 Olympic Games.

Instead of just hounding Gable to join him, Kurdelmeier reached out to Gable’s family and friends, according to Yagla, and tried to sell them on the idea.

And it worked when Kurdelmeier finally told Gable that he needed an answer.

Yagla also told a story in which Kurdelmeier reportedly sent Gable some tape to wrap his knees and ankles after hearing it was in short supply at Iowa State due to budget restrictions.

Some head coaches would’ve felt threatened by Gable’s huge presence, maybe even a lot of head coaches because head coaches are used to being in charge and in the spotlight.

Kurdelmeier was different.

He knew that keeping Gable at Iowa would benefit the wrestling program long-term, and was willing to sacrifice his own personal glory to make it happen.

Kurdelmeier didn’t just hand the program over to Gable, he built it into a national power with Gable’s help before stepping aside.

“He was such an innovator and he had such a vision for it,” Yagla said of Kurdelmeier’s approach to coaching. “He’s one of those in my mind looking back, he was way before his time as far as thinking out of the box and doing things differently.”

Kurdelmeier as a wrestler certainly wasn’t anything close to Gable, but Kurdelmeier was accomplished on the mat where he won a national title at Iowa in 1958 under head coach Dave McCuskey after having won two state heavyweight titles in high school.

A person doesn’t achieve that level of success without having an ego, and without being somewhat self-absorbed in the pursuit of individual success.

So the fact that Kurdelmeier was willing to step aside for Gable despite being in the prime of his coaching career speaks volumes about Kurdelmeier’s character.

“Coach Kurdelmeier I think does get lost a little bit, but the people that really know the history and understand it know how much of a factor he was,” Yagla said.

Kurdelmeier realized soon after Gable had joined his staff that Gable was better at training the wrestlers and he gave Gable that responsibility barely a month into their time together.

That was yet another example of Kurdelmeier putting the team before himself, and putting Gable on the fast track to succeeding him as head coach.

Yagla grew up in Waterloo and came to Iowa as a walk-on under Kurdelmeier in 1972. Yagla thrived in the Iowa wrestling environment and would go on to win back-to-back national titles in 1975 and 1976.

He credits both Kurdelmeier and Gable for squeezing every last bit of potential out of his well-conditioned body.

Yagla also credits McCuskey for building a solid foundation as head coach from 1952-72. Iowa won two Big Ten titles under McCuskey and finished second in the conference 12 times.

Kurdelmeier joined McCuskey’s staff as an assistant coach in 1967. And then after being promoted to head coach in 1972, Kurdelmeier turned something good into something great in a very short period of time.

He also started to promote wrestling as entertainment and fans quickly took notice. Iowa’s attendance now consistently ranks as the best, or among the best in college wrestling, and Kurdelmeier deserves some credit for that.

Kurdelmeier knew that he had a unique circumstance with Gable on his staff, and he had to act quickly or risk losing him to another school.

You could argue that it’s one of the best decisions and biggest sacrifices made by a member of the Iowa Athletic Department.

Kurdelmeier had to feel tempted to stay on as head coach with the program showing signs of dominance, and yet, he stepped aside for Gable because Kurdelmeier knew that it would benefit the program over time, and he was right.

I knew about Gary Kurdelmeier’s role in helping to build the Iowa wrestling dynasty, and how he had lured Gable away from Iowa State.

But it was nice to be reminded about it because Gary Kurdelmeier deserves to be recognized for his unselfish role in helping to make Dan Gable a coaching legend.

 

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