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Looking back at Navy's Tony Stremic, 1950s mat/gridiron star

Every NCAA wrestling championship is historic for its own reasons. The 1957 NCAAs held in Pittsburgh ranks as one of the all-time greats because of the significance of the stars who took to the mat in the finals. Dan Hodge concluded his Sooner career with a 45-0 record, and a pin (his 36th.) Iowa's Simon Roberts became the first African-American to win an NCAA mat title (at 147 pounds). Pitt's 123-pounder Ed Peery won his third title, joining his teammate/older brother Hugh and their dad/coach Rex as the only father-son-son trio to each have been a three-time NCAA champ.

Tony Stremic
The '57 NCAAs were also notable for featuring Tony Stremic of the U.S. Naval Academy, the No. 3 seed in the 191-pound bracket, taking on top-seeded Ron Schirf at the University of Pittsburgh in the title bout. It was a rematch of their 1957 EIWA (Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association) finals match of a couple weeks earlier which Schirf won, 5-3. At the Nationals, Schirf earned another victory over Stremic, this time by a split referees' decision in overtime (as ties beyond regulation were handled 60-plus years ago).

Anthony William Stremic, a hero of the wrestling mat and football field in high school in Pennsylvania and at Annapolis in the 1950s, passed away in November 2019 at age 84. (Only recently was InterMat alerted to Stremic's passing a half-year ago.)

Tony Stremic was born in Mt. Carmel, Pa. in April 1935, and was raised in Glenside, Pa. He attended Cheltenham High School in Elkins Park, Pa. and then Wyoming Seminary in Kingston, Pa. where he excelled in academics, and accomplished greatness on the gridiron and wrestling mat. (Among his accomplishments prior to entering the U.S. Naval Academy in 1954: All-Philadelphia in 1952 in football; District and Regional wrestling champion in 1951, 1952, and winner of two National Wrestling Championships in prep competition in 1953 and 1954.)

Beyond wrestling, one of Stremic's greatest sports accomplishments was being named outstanding lineman at the 1957 Cotton Bowl, the New Year's Day football classic where Navy defeated Rice University. For this game performance, Stremic was also showcased in Sports Illustrated's "Faces in the Crowd" weekly personality feature, which described him as "block-built Navy wrestler and All-East football guard who starred in last Cotton Bowl game, was selected as winner of U.S. Naval Academy AA sword as best athlete among graduating midshipmen."

After graduating from Annapolis in 1958, Stremic served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1958-1979 as an infantry officer and Research and Development officer and served in Vietnam with the 1st Marine Division. He also was selected to numerous All-Marine and All-Service football teams during the late 1950's and early 1960's. Mr. Stemic also attended the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering in 1966. Upon retirement from the Marine Corps, Stremic was a program manager and professional services consultant in Weapons Systems Acquisition and Information Systems for several firms in the Northern Virginia area until full retirement in 2002.

Stremic earned numerous military honors, including the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, and Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation Gallantry Cross.

Tony Stremic is survived by his wife (the former Nancy Ughes of Norristown, Pa.; brother, Peter of Bensalem, Pa.; daughter, Lynn Johnson (Chris Payne) of Gainesville, Va.; son David Stremic (Maria) of Round Hill, Va; son Mark Stremic (deceased) of Haymarket, VA; and two granddaughters, Kelly and Meghan Johnson.

Graveside services with military honors were held for Anthony Stremic on Friday, November 29, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. at Quantico National Cemetery in Triangle, Va. The family had suggested that gifts be made in Mr. Stremic's name to the American Heart Association, Friends of Homeless Animals in Aldie, Va., or Wounded Warrior Project.

Special thanks to James Arthur, a knowledgeable wrestling fan and Navy man who alerted this writer to Anthony Stermic's passing and provided much of the info in this tribute.

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