A product of Philip, S.D., McIlravy, 40, found success at every level of his wrestling career. He was a five-time state champion at Philip High School, winning the 98-pound title in 1988, 112 in 1989, 125 in 1990, and 152 in 1991 and 1992, becoming only the second South Dakotan to win five state prep titles. McIlravy had a high school mat record of 200-25, served as team captain as a junior and senior, and was voted Most Valuable Wrestler three times. McIlravy also held school records for most falls, most takedowns and most consecutive falls. In addition, he also won Cadet and Junior national freestyle titles. McIlravy also excelled in the classroom, as an honor roll student and National Honor Society member.
Lincoln McIlravy (Photo/Larry Slater)McIlravy was introduced to wrestling at age 5, joining his brothers Arthur and Clayton in the Philip youth program. "I wasn't the toughest kid in Philip or the toughest kid at practice, but I was a little better than average,'' McIlravy is quoted in his South Dakota Hall of Fame biography. "More importantly, I really liked it, so I worked at it a lot. I played football and baseball, too, but by eighth grade I made a year-round commitment to wrestling."
McIlravy made the most of that commitment in college wrestling at the University of Iowa, where he was a four-time NCAA finalist, winning the 142-pound crown at the 1993 NCAAs, then NCAA titles at 150 in 1994 and 1997. He was also a three-time Big Ten conference champ. Wrestling for legendary Iowa head coach Dan Gable, McIlravy compiled a 96-3 record as a Hawkeye.
The South Dakota native also made his presence felt in international freestyle competition. Among McIlravy's career highlights: Four National Open Championships, 1998 Goodwill Games winner, two-time World Championships medalist (third in 1998, second in 1999), and bronze medalist at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
McIlravy was one of a dozen honorees welcomed this week into the National High School Hall of Fame, which was created in 1982 by the National Federation of High School Associations to honor high school athletes, coaches, officials, administrators and others. Others in the Class of 2015 include athletes Cindy Borgdon and Jackie Stiles (both girls' basketball); coaches David Barney (swimming), J.T. Curtis (football), Rick Lorenz (girls' volleyball), Don Petranovich (girls' basketball) and Charles "Corky" Rogers (football); official Joseph Pangrazio Sr. (football); administrator Doug Chickering (Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association); and performing arts selection Mike Burton (speech and debate coach). With the 2015 class, a total of 435 individuals have been welcomed into the National High School Hall of Fame.
In addition to the National High School Hall of Fame, McIlravy has also been inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame as a Distinguished Member in 2010, the South Dakota Hall of Fame, and the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame as a member of the 1996-97 Iowa Hawkeye wrestling team.