Gary Kessel received the Meritorious Official award at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum in 2018 (Photo/Larry Slater)
Gary Kessel, who has been a wrestling official for 40 years, will be welcomed into the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Officials Association (EIWOA) Hall of the Fame in 2020, the organization has announced.
In his four decades as an official, Kessel has officiated a wide range of collegiate and high school wrestling events. He has refereed 16 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, including 12 finals, and eight NCAA Division III Championships, including eight finals. He has officiated 21 Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association championships and 18 Virginia Duals while also refereeing nine National Duals and four National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Star matches. Kessel has also officiated 39 New Jersey state high school wrestling championships, including 11 finals, and has officiated 15 national high school tournaments.
Beyond his on-the-mat officiating, Kessel has participated in leadership roles within wrestling. Since 2010, he has served as president of the EIWOA, the oldest and largest wrestling organization in the country, and has worked as a rules interpreter for the state of New Jersey and the Eastern Wrestling League (EWL). He serves as the secretary/treasurer for the National Wrestling Officials Association and also chairs the organization's education committee while also serving on the executive board of the New Jersey Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Kessel has earned a number of significant honors over the years. Kessel was inducted into the East Stroudsburg University Athletics Hall of Fame in 1995, and is also a member of the Hopatcong, New Jersey, High School Hall of Fame. He was honored as the New Jersey Official of the Year in 2007 and received the Richard Mirshak award for dedication, service and contributions to wrestling in 2015. He received the Vincent Russo Golden Whistle award in 2016 and was presented the Lifetime Service to Wrestling award from the New Jersey Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2017. The following year, Kessel received the Meritorious Official award at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Gary Kessel launched his lifelong relationship with wrestling in the eighth grade ... then continued his on-the-mat career at East Stroudsburg University where he won the 150-pound title at the 1977 EIWA championships, and was a two-time Pennsylvania Conference champion. In addition, Kessel was a two-time NCAA Division II All-American for the Warriors by placing second and fifth at the national championships. Following graduation, Kessel served as an assistant coach at his college alma mater.
Kessel will be inducted into the EIWOA Hall of Fame on March 6-7, 2020 at Lehigh University.