Mike BlackburnThere are a couple aspects of Mike Blackburn's induction that make this honor even more special. For starters, Blackburn is the only Class of 2020 inductee to welcomed for playing two sports -- wrestling (as a heavyweight), and football (as a right tackle). (Another BW 2020 Hall of Fame inductee coached and played tennis.)
In wrestling, he was a two-time NCAA Division III national qualifier as a heavyweight and finished runner-up twice in the OAC Tournament.
"Both guys I lost to made the national championships," Blackburn told the Weirton (W.Va.) Daily Times . "We had some good heavyweights in the OAC back then."
Adding to his Hall of Fame credentials ... Mike Blackburn's 75-50 career record in wrestling ranks 29th all-time in Baldwin Wallace annals.
Perhaps even more in the realm of rarified "what-if stories" for a future BW Hall of Fame inductee ... Blackburn came oh-so-close to never enrolling at Baldwin Wallace in the first place.
Here's how Baldwin Wallace's Director of Athletic Communications & Public Relations Kevin Ruple described the situation in Mike Blackburn's Hall of Fame announcement:
"When Blackburn was looking at colleges and universities, he was strictly looking at schools to wrestle and was all set to attend another school, which sponsored wrestling at that time. But BW Hall of Fame Wrestling Coach Rich Fleming (1988-2011), Hall of Fame Football Coach Bob Packard '65 (1980-2001) and Hall of Fame football player and wrestler Tony Cipollone '93, who was Fleming and Packard's assistant coach at the time, all talked him into coming to Berea to play football and wrestle.
"I was all set to go to another school," said Blackburn, "but then Coach Fleming kept calling. And, Coach Packard started calling. And, Cip [Cipollone's nickname] began to call, and we really developed a bond. And, that did it. It made a difference, and I'm glad they did. It's one of the best decisions I've ever made in my life.
"I got to BW and I met my second family," said Blackburn. "Coach Packard and Coach Demmerle [Hall of Fame Coach Dave Demmerle] were awesome and my Offensive Tackles Coach Mike Kelly '80 was the best-ever football coach. He really made me work hard and taught me how to play tackle in the OAC. He played on BW's National Championship team, so he knew how to win.
"And my teammates on the offensive line were unbelievable," said Blackburn. "
Tallying up a winning post-collegiate high school mat career ... and life
Since graduating from Baldwin Wallace in the spring of 1999, Mike Blackburn played professional football in the arena league and has returned to his roots in the Steubenville area as a teacher and coach. His 15 years of coaching success has culminated with being named as the OHSAA Div. II Wrestling Coach of the Year in both 2012 and 2020.
In addition, Blackburn has been named as the OVAC 4A Coach of the Year five times, serves as the Eastern District Coaches Representative, the OHSAA Coaches Committee and the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) National Representative for the State of Ohio.
Blackburn's teams have compiled a 255-58 dual match record and a 268-64 career record. During the last eight seasons, six of his teams have placed in the top 10 at the OHSAA State Tournament in Div. II, including in each of the past five seasons. His teams also have won eight 4A and 5A Ohio Valley Athletic Conference dual meet championships, five 4A OVAC championships, one OVAC overall, seven OHSAA Sectional and two OHSAA district titles. In 2016, he led Steubenville to the Div. II Ohio Dual Regional title and to the OHSAA state semifinals.
Individually, Blackburn has coached 23 OVAC champions, 61 OHSAA sectional champions, 21 OHSAA district champions, 30 OHSAA State Tournament placewinners and seven OHSAA State Tournament runners-up.
"I have so many great memories of Baldwin Wallace. I made friends with so many people and some that I am still friends with today," he added
Other BW Class of 2020 honorees
In addition to Mike Blackburn -- now head wrestling coach at Steubenville High -- other inductees include Keith Aufmuth (2006, men's basketball); Randy Edwards (1983, football); Kelsey Hills-Finucan (2008, women's basketball); Joel Nichols (1996, baseball); Brian Rector (1989, men's tennis and coach); Larry Rosati (1983, football); Jeff Schenk (1987, men's soccer); Mike Turchan (2006, baseball); and Michelle White (2007, women's basketball).
With these 10 just-announced additions, the Yellow Jackets for Life that have been honored with their inductions now total 356.
An announcement will be made later this summer or early fall regarding the timing of the induction ceremony for the Class 2020.
Baldwin Wallace University is a four-year private school located in Berea, Ohio south of Cleveland, near Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport. Its varsity sports teams compete in the NCAA Division III. There are approximately 3,500 students enrolled.