WATERLOO, Iowa -- Five former NCAA wrestling champions, a historic wrestling family, a standout high school wrestling coach, and one of the nation's premiere wrestling photographers highlighted a memorable evening at the Glen Brand Wrestling Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Festivities took place on Sunday, June 9 at Sunnyside Country Club in Waterloo, Iowa.
The Glen Brand Wrestling Hall of Fame of Iowa was established in 2002 to honor people who have made an impact on the sport on a national level, or who have done extraordinary work in the State of Iowa. The hall recognizes native-born Iowans, and those who achieved their fame while wrestling or coaching for an Iowa school. The Hall of Fame is located inside the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum.
Sandy Stevens, a member of the Glen Brand Wrestling Hall of Fame of Iowa who has announced at every major wrestling tournament throughout the world, served as the master of ceremonies. She is also a member of the Board of Governors for the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
"The speeches by the honorees were some of the most heartfelt and poignant speeches I've ever heard at such an event," said Stevens. "That was a feeling held by virtually everyone I talked with after the dinner. It was a memorable night for everyone involved."
Each award winner was introduced by Stevens and presented his award by Museum namesake Dan Gable. Gable, a native of Waterloo, won the 1972 Olympics without surrendering a point. He also coached the University of Iowa wrestling team to 15 NCAA titles and 21 consecutive Big Ten titles during his 21 year career.
"I don't think I've been to a banquet where I've felt that much emotion," said Gable. "We in wrestling are now appreciating our sport more than ever. We know we need to make it better and I think we're on the right track.
"People were very appreciative at the event. That goes inside me and it makes me step up a little more. There's more that I can do."
Wyatt Schultz received the Russ Smith Community Impact Award. The award is given to a person demonstrating exceptional local impact on wrestling within the state of Iowa. Schultz is the owner and publisher of The Predicament, a publication that covers wrestling within the state of Iowa. He is a sports photographer, covering wrestling tournaments statewide.
Jason Christenson received the inaugural Bob Siddens High School Coaching Excellence Award. The award is given to an Iowa high school wrestling coach who exhibits the high standards that Bob Siddens set during his legendary coaching career. Siddens coached West Waterloo to 11 state team titles and a 327-26 dual meet record.
Christenson is the head wrestling coach at Southeast Polk High School. He led his team to a 3A Iowa state team championship earlier this year. During his speech, Christenson alluded to the influence that Bob Siddens has had on his career as a coach.
When Christenson began coaching he found an article from a 1985 issue of "Wrestling USA" that Bob Siddens wrote. The story included 11 principles on what makes a great wrestler. Christenson has used the article during the entirety of his 22 years of coaching -- and the article hangs proudly in the Southeast Polk wrestling room for all of his wrestlers to read.
"It was surreal to be the first award winner," said Christenson. "Even though he hasn't been in the wrestling room, Bob Siddens has been a part of my coaching career every day. It was humbling to receive an award named in his honor."
The Huff family of Waterloo received the Family Legacy Award. Lewis and Louise Huff had four sons and one daughter, all of whom attended West Waterloo High School. Charles was a two-time state runner-up (1951-1952), Dale finished third as a senior (1954), Don was a state champion in 1956 and 1957, and Tom was a state champion in 1957, 1958, and 1959.
Tom—an NCAA runner-up for the University of Iowa in 1963 and a third place finisher in 1962 -- spoke on behalf of the family.
This year's Hall of Fame induction class included Dale Brand (Cornell), Kirk Myers (Northern Iowa), Troy Steiner (Iowa), Terry Steiner (Iowa), and Heskett Iowa State.
Brand was an NCAA champion for Cornell College in 1937 and a runner-up in 1936. He was also an alternate on the 1936 Olympic wrestling team that competed in Berlin, Germany. Brand was the head wrestling coach at Clarion High School from 1946 through 1976, compiling a 252-76-2 dual meet record. He coached 23 individual state champions and six runner-up teams.
Dale's most famous wrestler at Clarion was Glen Brand, 1948 Olympic champion and namesake of the Glen Brand Wrestling Hall of Fame of Iowa. Dale and Glen were first cousins. Dale Brand died in 2004 at the age of 90.
Myers was a three-time Division II NCAA champion for the University of Northern Iowa (1978-1980) and a three-time Division I All-American. He placed sixth at the NCAA tournament in 1979, third in 1980, and fifth 1982. Myers set the single season record for pins at Northern Iowa in 1982 at 21. He was also a state champion for Algona in 1977.
Troy and Terry Steiner, identical twins who wrestled at the University of Iowa, each won an individual NCAA championship. Troy was a four-time All-American and an NCAA champion for the Hawkeyes, placing fifth, second, first, and third at the NCAA tournament (1990-1993). Terry was a three-time All-American and an NCAA champion, placing third, fifth, and first at the NCAA tournament (1991-1993).
"I would like to thank the Dan Gable Museum and the selection committee for the induction" said Terry. "Wrestling is part of our lives and it has affected our entire family. It's a great honor. The opportunity we were afforded by the University of Iowa and Dan Gable is something we are very grateful for. The passion Iowa fans bring to wrestling is second to none. We hope we can pass along the same passion and opportunity the next generation. The entire Steiner family was humbled to be part of this event."
Troy currently serves as an assistant wrestling coach at Oregon State. Terry is the U.S. National women's head wrestling coach for USA Wrestling.
Heskett was an NCAA champion and a four-time All-American (1999-2002) for Iowa State. He placed third at the NCAA tournament as a freshman, second as a sophomore and as a junior, and first as a senior. The former Cyclone compiled a 143-9 career college record with 58 pins. He also placed fifth at the 2007 World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan. Heskett is the current head wrestling coach at Army.
"I want to thank the Hall of Fame for executing a first class event," said Heskett. "It was not just a humbling honor being inducted, but having the opportunity to listen to the passionate speeches of the other inductees made for a remarkable evening. What the Hall of Fame does for our sport is a true gift and I would like to thank all of the individuals involved."
On Monday, June 10 the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum hosted the 14th annual Dan Gable Celebrity Golf Tournament. Celebrities from baseball, basketball, football, volleyball, wrestling, and television converged for a memorable day at Sunnyside Country Club for a round of golf.
"I'm a little in shock about the golf tournament," said Gable. "I was planning on speaking twice and I felt like I let some people down, but I had to put priorities in place due to a funeral. The reason I'm in shock is because I couldn't believe the number of celebrities that were there playing in the golf tournament. I can't get over it. Every one of the celebrities was capable of being a guest speaker at high level functions throughout the nation. Putting them together is a little overwhelming for me.
"My message is we're still going to do a better job. We'll never settle for okay. I've never settled for okay at any point in my life. However, I can't express my appreciation enough to those people involved in both events."
One of the celebrities participating in the golf tournament was former major league baseball player Casey Blake. A native of Indianola, Iowa, Blake played for the Toronto Blue Jays, Minnesota Twins, Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, and Los Angeles Dodgers during his 13 year career.
"I'm a wrestling fan. I've said from the beginning that you can't take wrestling out of the Olympics," said Blake. "They deserve to be in there more so than baseball, softball, and squash."