IOWA CITY, Iowa — Former University of Iowa wrestling coach Gary Kurdelmeier entered the Iowa wrestling room in 1972 with big ideas.
The mat? The promotions? The expectations? It all needed to improve.
The mat needed to be larger, so he made it grow. The crowd needed incentive, so he fed it to them. The expectations needed to rise, so he started building… fast.
Kurdelmeier, a national champion for the Hawkeyes in 1958, was named UI head wrestling coach in 1972. One year later the Hawkeyes were Big Ten Conference champions. Three years later Iowa celebrated its first national title.
By the time he stepped aside in 1976, the Hawkeyes collected three Big Ten championships and two NCAA titles, crowning six national champions and 10 Big Ten champions.
“He used to talk about how he was going to build the program to that level,” said Steve Kurdelmeier, Gary’s son and a former Hawkeye wrestler. “He felt like Iowa should be a national wrestling power, and we really weren’t at the time. He felt like it was our place to be.”
Upon assuming control of the program, Kurdelmeier lured former Iowa State standout Dan Gable away from Ames and into the Iowa wrestling room, almost immediately handing the day-to-day training over to his eventual heir apparent.
With Gable managing the wrestling room, Kurdelmeier was able to promote the sport. The combination eventually made Iowa wrestling a must-see event.
The Hawkeyes started winning, and within the first year 100 fans turned into thousands.
“He was a promoter. That was his big thing,” said Steve. “He was always promoting and trying to come up with a new way to interest people in the sport. He came up with some wild things every once in a while.”
When defending champion Oklahoma visited Iowa City in 1975, the Sooners had a reputation of wrestling on the edge, so Kurdelmeier pieced together four mats to create a 74-foot wrestling surface that would later be banned by the wrestling rules committee.
“I don’t think he asked anybody,” said Steve. “He just decided that’s what he wanted to do so he did it. It certainly wasn’t announced going in, and I think (Oklahoma) just about refused to wrestle.”
Oklahoma did wrestle, and Iowa dominated the match, 34-5, triggering another Kurdelmeier promotion — free McDonald’s hamburgers for everyone in attendance.
“Those are the things he did, you should hear some of the things he didn’t do,” said Steve. “He thought one time it would be interesting to have 10 guys weigh-in on one scale at the same time, and rather than having weight classes you had one total weight. Then you could line your guys up any way you so felt fit.”
That idea never saw the light of day, but that may have been by design.
“He was already planning the next thing,” said Steve. “When he started building he saw the end product before it was ever going to happen. He just felt like it was the inevitable end of where Iowa would end up.
“Prior to him being there they had never been a power, and the fact that between Gable and (Jim) Zalesky and (Tom) Brands, he would be proud that the school has maintained itself as a national power for all these years.”
Gary Kurdelmeier passed away in 1998 at the age of 62. He will be recognized Saturday as Iowa’s honorary captain when the top-ranked Hawkeyes host Iowa State at 7 p.m. (CT). Kurdelmeier will be represented by his wife, Barbara; son, Steve; daughter, Kathy; and their immediate families.
Due to circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board of Directors of the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame in Cresco announced the 51st Annual IWHOF Induction Ceremony and Awards Banquet scheduled for Monday, April 13, 2020 has been postponed until Monday, April 12, 2021. The class of 2020; Tom Hogan, Tom Huff, G. Wyatt Schultz, and Chad Zaputil are deemed worthy recipients and were unanimously approved for induction into the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame. Their day will come.
CRESCO, IA: The Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame announced its 2020 Induction class:
Tom Hogan, Colonel Thomas Huff, Chad Zaputil, and Wyatt Schultz will be inducted during an awards banquet and ceremony Monday, April 13th at the Cresco Country Club.
Four outstanding individuals who’ve contributed mightily to the sport of wrestling will be inducted into the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame in Cresco on Monday, April 13, 2020. The 51st Annual Awards Banquet and Induction Ceremony will begin with a 5:30pm social hour followed by a 6:30pm banquet at the Cresco Country Club.
Tom Hogan – Gilbertville Don Bosco, UNI, Wartburg – three-time state medalist, state champion, three-time NCAA D3 All-American, D3 NCAA Champion, and renowned high school coach.
Colonel Thomas L. Huff U.S. Air Force DC Retired – Waterloo West, University of Iowa – three-time state champion, two-time Big Ten champion, two-time NCAA All-American, multiple U.S. Armed Services championships, two-time final Olympic Trials place winner.
Chad Zaputil – Centerville, University of Iowa – four-time state entrant, two-time state champion, three-time Big Ten Conference champion, three-time NCAA tournament finalist.
Banquet tickets are available at the Cresco Chamber of Commerce, 563.547.3434, or CIA Insurance, 563.547.2382. Tickets are $25 and advance registration is required.
The Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame’s sole purpose is the promotion of amateur wrestling and honoring native Iowans. The inaugural banquet was held in 1970. When we conclude the 51st Annual Awards Banquet on April 13, 2020, our roster of inductees will include 137 outstanding individuals for their contributions to amateur wrestling.
CRESCO, IA: Four outstanding individuals who’ve contributed mightily to the sport of wrestling will be inducted into the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame in Cresco on Monday, April 8th. The 50th Annual Awards Banquet and Induction Ceremony will begin with a 5:30 social hour followed by a 6:30 banquet at the Cresco Country Club south of Cresco. Those being inducted Don Buzzard (posthumous), Joe Corso, Gary Steffensmeier and Jesse Whitmer. Also being recognized will be Dale Bahr. Bahr was inducted into the IWHOF in 1988, but was unable to attend that induction ceremony and banquet. The Board of Directors thought the 50th anniversary banquet would be an appropriate time to recognize Bahr as an inductee.
Don Buzzard was a two-time state champion for Waterloo East(1963, 1964). Buzzard went on to Iowa State University where he was a two-time NCAA runner-up at 191 pounds. As a sophomore Buzzard won the 191 pound Midlands Championship. Buzzard coached at Jesup before becoming an assistant coach at the University of Iowa (1973-1974). During his competitive career Buzzard only lost a total of nine matches.
Joe Corso won a state title for West Des Moines Valley at113 pounds in 1971. After winning a bronze medal in the NCAA championships for Purdue, Corso continued his career in freestyle wrestling where he excelled. Corso went on to be a ten-time national freestyle champion, placed third in the World Championships of 1978 and was the 1979 Pan-American Games champion. Corso was also on the 1980Olympic team and an alternate in 1984. Corso is still coaching and has had a long history with the Sunkist Wrestling Club.
Steffensmeier wrestled at Fort Madison for Hall of Fame coach Mick Pickford. Steffensmeier was the Bloodhounds first two-time state champion and their first four-time state tournament medalist. Steffensmeir won titles in 1986 at 112 lbs and in 1987 at119 lbs. He capped his senior year with a perfect 32-0 record. Steffensmeier went to the University of Northern Iowa where he was a three-time Division I All-American with a runner-up and two fourth place finishes. He finished with a collegiate record of 115-29-3.
Jessie Whitmer was a four-time medalist and a one-time state champion for Eagle Grove High School. Whitmer then went to the University of Iowa where he was able to break into the starting line up as a 118 pound senior. Whitmer was one of five national champions for the storied 1997 squad that broke the record for number of points scored at the tournament (170).
Dale Bahr was a two-time state champion for Iowa Falls high school, wrestling for Gary Kurdelmeier. Under Harold Nichols at Iowa State, Bahr won the 145 lb. national championship as a senior. He was a two-time All American before winning his national title. Bahr then went on to a successful coaching career where he ended up as head coach for the University of Michigan from 1978-99.
Banquet tickets are available at the Cresco Chamber of Commerce (563-547-3434) or CIA Insurance in Cresco (563-547-2382). Tickets are $25 and advance registration is required.
The Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame’s sole purpose is the promotion of amateur wrestling in Iowa. The IWHOF has a rich history of honoring native Iowans at our annual awards banquet and induction ceremony. The inaugural banquet was held in 1970. When we conclude the 50th annual awards banquet on April 08, 2019, our roster of inductees will included 133 outstanding individuals for their contributions to amateur wrestling.
CRESCO – Donald “Don” Edward Gooder, age 86, of Cresco, Iowa, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019, at Evans Memorial Home surrounded by his family.A Mass of Christian burial will be held at Notre Dame Catholic Church on Friday, Sept. 27, 2019, at 11 a.m. with Father Jacob Rouse officiating. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery. Visitation will be held at Notre Dame Church on Thursday, Sept. 26 from 4-8 p.m., followed by a prayer service. Visitation will continue at the Church beginning at 9:30 a.m. prior to the service on Friday. Hindt-Hudek Funeral Home is assisting the family.
Don was born on Aug. 31, 1933, to Niles and Ruth (Slifka) Gooder in Waterloo, Iowa, and was raised by a single mother, his grandmother and two uncles. He graduated from Cresco High School in 1951, served in the United States Marines, and married Rose Ella “Rosie” Slifka on Sept. 19, 1953, at Assumption Catholic Church in Cresco.
Though Don was raised in town, he and Rosie began their marriage with a short stint in farming. This was the first of a long list of entrepreneurial endeavors related to agriculture, real estate and business development in which Don pursued his desire to succeed.
Influenced by many people in the Cresco community as a young man, he enjoyed crediting much of his success to the guidance he received from numerous local mentors including Arnie Kratz, Neil McKone, Bob Howard, Ralph Fitzgerald and George Laub, as well as many others who all shared a passion for Cresco’s success. Don loved his community and wanted it to thrive, creating phrases such as “Cresco, the heart of the nation,” meaning every word.
At the age of 29, he purchased a Ford franchise in Cresco, later building it into a “state of the art” dealership. During this time, Don’s interests and involvements included stock cars, snowmobiles and quarter midget racing with the boys. In 1972 Don and Rosie decided to pursue farming, when a family farm in Vernon Springs was listed for sale. In character, Don went against the grain, deciding to focus on a commercial sheep operation, which over time evolved into purebred Columbia and Rambouillet sheep flocks. The success of this enterprise led to winning Premier Breeder at the International Livestock Exposition five times along with numerous other awards and recognitions. In addition, Don earned his broker license to pursue his life-long interest in real estate. For decades he held the Iowa state record for the largest farm land transaction.
In the early 1970s, Don helped found Cresco Industrial Development Corporation (CIDC), became its first director and helped to lead the growth of Cresco industry to an all-time high. A few of the businesses included Donaldson, ADS Plastics, and other businesses throughout the county.
Cresco’s reputation as one of the country’s leading trailer manufacturing centers is the direct result of the couple’s successful sheep business because of their need to transport sheep to eastern markets. Realizing the potential of aluminum livestock trailers, Don convinced Roy Culp to partner with him to build the Featherlite plant. Don told him, “I will take every trailer you can build.” As a result, Don Gooder Distributing became the nation’s largest dealer of aluminum stock and horse trailers for many years. In years to come, this business evolved into Alum-Line, which from the start has involved two of his sons. Don’s business legacy in Cresco lives on.
In retirement, the couple owned a second home on the Mississippi River in Guttenburg, Iowa, where he was again developing real estate including retail buildings and homes.
Throughout his life, Don enjoyed pushing boundaries, taking risks and leading by example. This “no fear” attitude led to his development of numerous professional and community ventures. In part this included Heritage Supper Club, Sport Hut, founding of Driftrunners and Snow Fest, Ag Fest and leadership involvement with community organizations such as Jaycees, Centennial Committee, Chamber, Church Council, Hospital Board, Historical Society, Fair Board, and the list goes on.
He is well-known for his passion and connection to amateur wrestling. Attendance at the NCAA Division I Championship started with him and friends following Cresco native, Tom Peckham’s notable career. As a testament to Don’s love for the sport of wrestling, he was the last surviving founder of the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Don was known for his one-of-a-kind personality, relentless work ethic, commitment to excellence, affectionate humor and living life to its fullest. His crowning achievements however, are exemplified in his devotion to family and friends, and his life-long love and commitment to his wife of 66 years, Rosie. As he loved to say, “Enough said!”
Don is survived by his wife, Rosie of Cresco; children, Patrick (Becky) Gooder of Decorah, Iowa and their children, Shay Gooder, Chris (Coletta) Gooder and children, Adelina, Leo, and Judelyn and Dakota (Bryce) Hruska and daughter, Arietta; Michael (Rachel) Gooder of Cresco and their children, Abby (Dan) Inglis and son, Wyatt, and John (Molly) Gooder and daughter, Ella; Gary (Sara) Gooder of Cresco and their children, Sydney Gooder-Hayes and children, Paxton and Summer, Josie (Brian) Hrdlicka and daughter, Maelyn, and Sierra Gooder; Lee (Jill) Gooder of Cresco and their children, Shelley (Joe) Marshall and Zach (Katie) Gooder and daughter, Autumn; and Gay Duroe of Cresco. He is also survived by a brother, Ross “Bill” Gooder of Cresco.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Niles and Ruth; a son in infancy, John Gooder; and son-in-law, Michael Duroe.
The Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame’s sole purpose is the promotion of amateur wrestling in Iowa. Open to the public, April 9, 2018 is the Banquet and Induction Ceremony. Call 563.547.3434 to reserve your tickets.
We have a rich history of honoring native Iowans at our annual awards banquet and induction ceremony. The original banquet was held in 1970. When we concluded the 48th annual awards banquet on April 10, 2017, at the Cresco Country Club, our roster of inductees included 125 outstanding individuals for their contributions to amateur wrestling.
The Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame, located in Cresco, has announced the 2018 inductees. They are Steve Hamilton, Shane Light, Kirk Myers and Lennie Zalesky. The 49th annual banquet is set for Monday April 9th. Social hour starts at 5:30, dinner at 6:30 with the Induction ceremony following.
IWHOF Board Member Jerome Hruska was recently inducted into the Creston Wrestling Hall of Fame. Hruska was inducted along with Dylan Long and the 1972 Creston wrestling team. Hruska coached at Creston from 1969-1979. See attached story from the Creston News Advertiser.
Legendary coaches Chris Flanagan and Tom Kettman were inducted into the Glen Brand Wrestling Hall of Fame of Iowa on Saturday June 24th. The Brand WHOF is located in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum in Waterloo. Along with family members, Flanagan was represented by some current members of the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame Board of Directors. The IWHOF is located in Cresco, where Flanagan coached. Flanagan coached many of the current board members.
Pictured in front are Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame Members Sandy Stevens, Dan Gable, Chuck Yagla and Bob Siddens. In back are Jim Sovereign and IWHOF board members Jerome Hruska and Chuck Curtis.
CRESCO, IA: Four worthy and deserving individuals will be inducted into the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame in Cresco on Monday, April 10th. Among them is the first woman to be inducted into the IWHOF, and the sixth set of brothers to be inducted. The 48th Annual Awards Banquet and Induction Ceremony will begin with a 5:30 social hour followed by a 6:30 banquet at the Cresco Country Club south of Cresco. Those being inducted are Joel and Justin Greenlee, Mike Mann and Sandy Stevens.
Waverly natives Joel and Justin Greenlee become the 122nd and 123rd inductees into the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame, joining five other families with brothers inducted. That impressive group includes Terry and Tom Brands, Jim and Joe Gibbons, Dave and Paul Martin, Don and Harold Nichols and Doug and Mark Schwab. Both Joel and Justin were state champions at Waverly, All-Americans at UNI, and successful international competitors. Joel attained fourth and second place NCAA finishes, while Justin was eighth, second, and second in his three NCAA trips. Joel is in his 20th year as the head wrestling coach at Ohio. Justin is a research veterinary pathologist for the USDA at the National Animal Disease Center in Ames, IA.
The 124th inductee into the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame is Mike Mann. Mike won a state championship wrestling at Marshalltown High School in 1978. He followed that up at Iowa State University with seventh, fourth, second, and second place finishes in the NCAA tournament. He won 113 matches as a Cyclone, was a 1981 Midlands champion and a 1983 Big 8 champion. Mike is the head wrestling coach at Marshalltown High School, where he’s coached since 2012.
Sandy Stevens becomes the 125th inductee in the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame. Sandy has been behind the mic at every level of wrestling competition. She’s announced at state and national championships for Kids, Cadets, Juniors, Espoir, and many state and national high school championships. She did the NCAA D1 tournament 34 years, has been the announcer for the Midlands, Senior World Championships, Pan Am Championships, and the Olympics Games. Sandy received the Order of Merit from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1998, and many other accolades across the USA and the world.
Banquet tickets are available at the Cresco Chamber of Commerce (563-547-3434) and CIA Insurance in Cresco (563-547-2382). Tickets are $25 and advance registration is required.
The Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame’s sole purpose is the promotion of amateur wrestling in Iowa. The IWHOF has a rich history of honoring native Iowans at our annual awards banquet and induction ceremony. The inaugural banquet was held in 1970. When we conclude the 48th annual awards banquet on April 10, 2017, our roster of inductees will included 125 outstanding individuals for their contributions to amateur wrestling.
CRESCO, IA: A diverse group of individuals will be inducted into the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame in Cresco on Monday, April 11. Their careers span over 50 years. You’ll recognize them as competitors, coaches and a broadcaster. The 47th Annual Awards Banquet and Induction Ceremony will begin with a 5:30 social hour followed by a 6:30 banquet at the Cresco Country Club south of Cresco. Those being inducted are Rick Caldwell, Jim Duschen,Tim Johnson and Mark Reiland.
Knoxville native Rick Caldwell becomes the 118th inductee into the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame. Caldwell was a two-time All-American for IWHOF inductee Al Baxter at Buena Vista University. Following graduation form BVU, Caldwell started a coaching career that took him to the highest levels. He coached at BGM-Brooklyn, Iowa Falls and Ames before settling in at Waverly in 1988. In Waverly he was an assistant at Wartburg under IWHOF inductee Jim Miller until 1999, when he took over the Waverly-Shell Rock coaching duties. In 12 years at WSR his teams won 14 state team trophies, including nine state championships (five traditional and four dual), coached 20 Go-Hawk state champions and twice had four state champions in the same year. The Waverly-Shell Rock 2008 team set an all-time, all-class record of 225 points at the traditional state tournament.
East Waterloo’s Jim Duschen is the 119th inductee into the IWHOF. Duschen prepped at East Waterloo, and wrestled collegiately at Iowa State. While at ISU, he earned two Big 8 Championships, a Midlands Championship, All-American honors and was captain of the 1969 ISU National Championship team. Following his career at ISU, Duschen claimed two National Greco Roman Championships, was a ’72 Olympic alternate, and made the ’73 World team. Following his competitive years, he started a successful coaching career that spanned 30 years, from Iowa to Nevada. Duschen is regarded as the dean of high school wrestling in Nevada.
The 120th inductee into the IWHOF is Eagle Grove native Mark Reiland. Reiland was a four time medalist for Eagle Grove from 1984-1987 while wrestling for his father, IWHOF inductee Marv Reiland. He won state titles his junior and senior years. Reiland followed up his successful high school career with a stellar career wrestling for IWHOF inductee Dan Gable at the U. of Iowa. While a Hawkeye, Reiland became a two-time All-American, winning a National Championship in 1991. Upon graduation, Reiland coached as an assistant at Iowa City West, had a short stint at Solon, and then returned to IC West. At West, Reiland has built a powerhouse. His teams are perennially at the top of the class in Iowa high school wrestling.
The Voice of College Wrestling: that’s Morning Sun native Tim Johnson, the 121st inductee into the IWHOF. Johnson has covered the sport for Iowa Public TV, ESPN, Real Pro Wrestling and the BIG 10 Network. He has worked behind the mic for the past 12NCAA Division I championships. Johnson was the Director of Wrestling for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, and is an executive with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He wrestled at Morning Sun for IWHOF inductee Bob Darrah, and at Coe College. During his five years as coach at Mount Vernon, Johnson coached IWHOF inductee Greg Randall to four state championships.
Banquet tickets are available at the Cresco Chamber of Commerce (563-547-3434), Farmers Mill, Protivin (563-569-8501) and CIA Insurance in Cresco (563-547-2382). Tickets are $25 and advance registration is required.