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!”