The first with Illini ties to enter the Hall of Fame, Coach Heffernan and Coach Johnson are the 52nd and 53rd members of the Midlands Hall of Fame.
A part of six team and five individual Midlands titles as an athlete or a coach, Jim Heffernan boasts continued success at the midseason holiday tournament.
As a four-time All-American wrestler at Iowa, Heffernan won the 150-pound Midlands title three times to go along with Iowa team titles in 1983 and 1985. In his last of the three individual crowns, Heffernan was named the 1986 Art Kraft Champion of Champions which goes to the top overall wrestler at each Midlands tournament.
Since joining the Illinois coaching staff as an assistant in 1992 under fellow inductee Mark Johnson, Heffernan has been a part of four more team Midlands titles, a three-peat from 2003 to 2005 and fourth team title in 2012 after taking over for Coach Johnson as head coach in 2009. In 2014 and 2016, Heffernan has guided two-time NCAA champion Isaiah Martinez to Midlands titles at 157 pounds and 165 pounds, respectively.
The Midlands induction will mark the third Hall of Fame induction for Jim Heffernan, adding to his 2006 National Wrestling Hall of Fame and 2015 Iowa Hall of Fame inductions.
Former Illini head coach Mark Johnson joins Heffernan in the 2017 Hall of Fame Class after leading the Illini to three straight Midlands team titles from 2003 to 2005 and eight individual Midlands champions. Of the eight Midlands titles, seven came during an eight-year span from 2002 to 2009 with one in every year except 2008.
A two-time NCAA Finalist at the University of Michigan, Johnson placed three times at the Midlands tournament, finishing runner-up in 1976 and 1979.
Coaching 17 seasons at the helm of the Illini, Johnson left the program with the most wins, NCAA Champions, All-Americans and NCAA qualifiers of any coach in Illini history. In 2005, Johnson broke Illinois' 53-year Big Ten title drought and won a pair of Big Ten dual titles in 2005 and 2006. In 2001, Johnson led the program to its highest finish at NCAA Championships with a fifth-place finish behind NCAA Champions Adam Tirapelle and John Lockhart.
Johnson was named the 1995 National Coach of the Year and a two-time Big Ten Coach of the Year (2001, 2005).
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