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Dale Ketelsen, Iowa State All-American, LSU wrestling coach, dead at 78

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Dale Ketelsen, two-time NCAA All-American at Iowa State in the late 1950s who was Louisiana State’s first varsity wrestling coach, passed away March 22, LSU reported Thursday. He was 78.

A product of Osage, Iowa, Dale Glenn Ketelsen received a wrestling scholarship to Iowa State, where he earned three varsity letters as a wrestler for head coach Harold Nichols. Among his teammates: Ron Gray, Les Anderson, and Frank Powell, all who went on to collegiate coaching careers.

Ketelsen earned back-to-back All-American honors, placing third in the 157-pound bracket at the 1957 NCAAs in Pittsburgh (Oklahoma State’s Doug Blubaugh was 157 champ)… and runner-up at the 1958 NCAAs at University of Wyoming, losing 3-2 in the finals to Dick Beattie of Oklahoma State, in a rematch of the 1957 Big 8 Conference finals (which Beattie also won). Among Ketelsen's college wrestling rivals: Blubaugh, Wayne Murty of Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma's Sid Terry.

In addition to being a Cyclone wrestler, Ketelsen was also a member of the Iowa State baseball team that played in the College World Series.

After graduating from Iowa State in 1959, he went on active duty with the Marine Corps reserve for six months before returning to his alma mater as assistant wrestling coach for two years. In 1960, Ketelsen wrestled in the U.S. Olympic Trials.

After his stint on the Iowa State coaching staff, Ketelsen coached in high school at Riverside-Brookfield High in Illinois producing 30 all-conference wrestlers, 20 district champs, eight regional champions and two state champions.

In 1968, Ketelsen became the first head coach of the wrestling program at Louisiana State. In a decade at the helm of the now-defunct LSU mat program, Ketelsen’s teams won two Southeastern Conference Intercollegiate Wrestling tournaments. He produced 15 individual conference champions. In addition, he was also a member of the NCAA wrestling rules committee during his tenure at LSU.

After leaving LSU in 1978, Ketelsen returned to coaching at the high school level in Louisiana.

Ketelsen is survived by his wife of 52 years, Pat Ballard Ketelsen; two sons: Craig Ketelsen of Covington and Erik Ketelsen of Atlanta, Ga.; and, one daughter, Penny Kelly of Nashville. Also he is survived by five grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held Saturday at University United Methodist Church, 3350 Dalrymple Dr., Baton Rouge, La. Visitation will begin at 10 a.m. with a service to follow at noon.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Alzheimer’s Services, 3772 North Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70806.

Note about the photo: Dale Ketelsen is shown in his uniform as an Iowa State Cyclone wrestler -- trunks, no shirt. He competed in the era before singlets. Shirtless wrestling was banned by the NCAA in the mid-1960s.

Read about the 1958 NCAAs -- and Ketelsen's title match with Oklahoma State's Dick Beattie -- in this InterMat Rewind historical feature.

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