Four college wrestling champs with a combined nine NCAA individual titles, three Olympic appearances, two Outstanding Wrestler awards, and one Dan Hodge Trophy were among the honorees welcomed as members of the Class of 2014 at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Okla. during the 38th Honors Weekend June 20-21.
The four collegiate mat titlewinners – Oklahoma State’s Eric Guerrero, University of Colorado’s Dean Lahr, University of Oklahoma’s Mickey Martin, and Penn State’s Kerry McCoy – were inducted as Distinguished Members for 2014.
Others welcomed into the hall honoring amateur wrestling’s finest include Jim Jordan, Colin Kilrain, and Tom Norris.
To honor some of the members of the Hall of Fame Class of 2014, College Wrestling Examiner has put together this photo-feature…
Eric Guerrero, 2014 Distinguished Member
If any individual of the past two decades can be said to bleed orange and black – a statement that defines loyalty to the storied Oklahoma State wrestling program – it would be Eric Guerrero.
As a wrestler for the Cowboys, Guerrero was a four-time NCAA All-American, placing fifth at the 1996 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, then winning three consecutive NCAA titles, two at 126 pounds (1997, 1998), and one at 133 pounds in 1999. On the mat, Guerrero compiled a 117-13 overall record… while, in the classroom, the San Jose, Calif. native was a two-time academic All-American.
After college, Guerrero continued his wrestling career, moving to freestyle, where he qualified for four World Championship teams (1999, 2001-2003), won four U.S. Open titles, claimed a World Cup crown in 2003, and earned a place on the men’s freestyle wrestling squad which competed at the 2004 Olympics Athens, Greece.
Guerrero returned to his college alma mater to join John Smith’s coaching staff at Oklahoma State, first as strength and conditioning coach (2001-2004), then as assistant coach (2004-2012), then as associate head wrestling coach since 2012. During his coaching career, he led nine wrestlers to 14 individual NCAA championships, and four-straight NCAA team championships (2003-2006).
About the photo: Portrait of Eric Guerrero from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Dean Lahr, 2014 Distinguished Member
Oliver Dean Lahr is arguably the most accomplished wrestler to come out of the now-defunct wrestling program at the University of Colorado, as a three-time NCAA finalist, two-time NCAA champ, and the only CU matman to earn NCAA Outstanding Wrestler honors.
When Lahr wrestled at Colorado in the early 1960s, freshmen were not eligible to wrestle varsity… and, at least in his first two years of collegiate competition, Lahr and his teammates wrestled in trunks and tights, stripped to the waist. As a sophomore at CU, Lahr immediately made a name for himself, finding himself in the 177-pound finals at the 1962 NCAA Wrestling Championships at Oklahoma State, going up against defending champ Bob Johnson in his home gym. Lahr lost 3-2 to Johnson, the only wrestler to defeat him as a sophomore.
The following season, Lahr won his first Big Eight championship and his first NCAA title, beating Harry Houska of Ohio University in the 177-pound finals. As a senior, Lahr added a second Big Eight title, and another NCAA championship at 177, this time topping Oklahoma State’s Bill Harlow. Lahr was presented with the Outstanding Wrestler award at the 1964 NCAAs, becoming the first and only Colorado wrestler to win this prestigious award. Lahr’s final college record was 58-4.
Lahr also found success in freestyle, winning the 1964 U.S. Olympic Trials… only to have to withdraw from wrestling at the Tokyo Olympics because of a knee injury.
Lahr served as an assistant coach at Pitt and University of Oregon before launching a business with his wife.
Want to see Lahr in action? Check out YouTube footage of the 1962 NCAA finals vs. Oklahoma State’s Bob Johnson. Their 177-pound title bout is about 17 minutes into the film.
About the photos: Both images show Dean Lahr as a University of Colorado wrestler, during the time of transition from when the NCAA allowed wrestlers to compete bare-chested… then changed the uniform rules to require shirts. The photo on the left is from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame; the right image is from the 1964 Coloradan, the school’s yearbook.
Mickey Martin, 2014 Distinguished Member
His official National Wrestling Hall of Fame biography said it best: “When he arrived at the University of Oklahoma, Mickey Martin was known as the son of a Sooner wrestling legend. By the time he left, he had created a legacy of his own.”
Mickey's father Wayne Martin was a two-time NCAA champ (1935, 1936) for the Oklahoma Sooners.
Mickey, a 1961 Oklahoma state champ for Tulsa Central High, followed his dad’s lead to Norman. As a sophomore, Mickey Martin placed third at both the 1962 Big Eight tournament and the NCAA tournament. As a junior, he won his first Big Eight championship and his first NCAA title, defeating Mankato State’s Al DeLeon to win the 130-pound title.
Martin concluded his Sooner career in similar style, winning his second Big Eight and national title, this time by beating Bobby Douglas of West Liberty State in the 1963 NCAA finals at 130. He did this despite having missed much of the regular season because of a broken collarbone. For his feat, Mickey Martin was voted Outstanding Wrestler at the 1963 NCAAs, joining his father Wayne as a Distinguished Member, the only father - son combination to win the Outstanding Wrestler award.
Mickey finished his collegiate career with a 42-6 overall record.
After graduation, Mickey Martin coached at South Dakota State for two seasons (1976-1977) before coaching high school wrestling for more than 25 years, picking up three Oklahoma state team titles.
See Mickey Martin in action… Check out Martin’s first title match, thanks to finals film posted to YouTube by 1962 NCAA host school, Oklahoma State. The Martin-DeLeon bout is at 54 minutes into the video.
About the photo: Mickey Martin shown on top of an unidentified wrestler. From “Takedown: 50 Years of University of Oklahoma Wrestling” from author's collection.
Kerry McCoy, 2014 Distinguished Member
Kerry McCoy first took up wrestling in high school on Long Island – relatively late for a wrestler who went on to become one of the best big men in college and freestyle wrestling of the modern era.
After going 19-17 at 190 pounds in his first 36 matches at Penn State, McCoy moved up to heavyweight, and stepped up his performance, suffering only one loss in 136 matches.
As a sophomore, McCoy won the heavyweight title at the 1994 NCAAs… only to lose in the semifinals of the 1995 NCAAs, placing third. After taking an Olympic redshirt in 1996, McCoy claimed his second heavyweight title at the 1997 NCAAs in what his official National Wrestling Hall of Fame bio described as “arguably the deepest heavyweight class in college wrestling history… (with) an eventual World champion, an eventual World bronze medalist, and a 1996 Greco-Roman Olympian, along with several other multi-time All-Americans.”
McCoy concluded his Penn State career as a four-time NCAA All-American, three-time Big Ten champ, a two-time NCAA heavyweight champ, and 1997 winner of the Hodge Trophy as the best college wrestler of the year.
McCoy found similar success in freestyle, winning five straight U.S. Open championships from 2000 – 2004, earning a silver medal at the 2003 World Championships, and wrestled twice at the Olympics, placing fifth in 2000 and seventh in 2004.
For nearly two decades, McCoy has coached at the collegiate level. Since 2008, he has served as head coach at the University of Maryland.
About the photos: On the left, Kerry McCoy’s arm raised in victory as a U.S. freestyle wrestler. On the right, an image of McCoy as Maryland coach. Both from McCoy’s official website, KerryTheRealMcCoy.com.
Jim Jordan, 2014 Outstanding American
One might say that the challenges of the sport of wrestling helped prepare Jim Jordan for the rough-and-tumble of politics.
Raised in western Ohio, Jordan was a four-time Ohio state champ for St. Paris Graham High School, one of the nation’s perennial top high school programs, where he compiled a near-perfect 150-1 overall record.
He went on to wrestle for the University of Wisconsin from 1982-1986, where he was a three-time NCAA All-American and a two-time NCAA champion, winning 136-pound titles at the 1985 and 1986 NCAAs. As a Badger, Jordan crafted a career record of 156-28-1.
After graduating from Wisconsin, Jordan returned to his home state to serve as an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State for Russ Hellickson from 1986-1994. (In fact, Jordan posed for photos for Hellickson’s “Instructional Guide for Amateur Wrestling” book.)
In 1994, Jordan then left wrestling for a career in politics, first as an Ohio state representative, then as a state senator before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006, representing western Ohio. In 2014, Jordan was welcomed into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame as an Outstanding American.
Family affair: Jim Jordan is one of four in his family to wrestle at Wisconsin-Madison. His brother Jeff was a two-time All-American for the Badgers. Jim’s son Ben was an All-American in 2012 and son Isaac is a current member of the Badgers.
About the photos: On the left, Jim Jordan as a Badger wrestler, from the University of Wisconsin. On the right, Jordan’s portrait supplied by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Colin Kilrain, 2014 Outstanding American
In its official bio for 2014 Outstanding American honoree Colin J. Kilrain, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame states that not only did he have a decorated wrestling career, but also a decorated military career.
Kilrain was a three-time NCAA All-American for Lehigh University from 1980-1982, placing third in each of those NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. While at Lehigh, Kilrain also won four EIWA (Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association) titles, the first coming as a true freshman in 1978 at the 167-pound weight class, then back-to-back 177-pound crowns in 1980 and 1981, before capping his senior season with the 190 pound EIWA title for the Engineers.
Kilrain is currently serving as the assistant commanding officer at the Joint Special Operations Command in Fort Bragg, N.C. as a Rear Admiral. Kilrain is a career Naval Special Warfare (NSW) SEAL officer with multiple Joint Special Operation duty assignments.
Upon completion of Officer Candidate School, Kilrain was commissioned in 1985. He completed Basic Underwater SEAL training in 1986. The former Lehigh mat champ has had staff assignments as operations officer for State Department’s Office of Counterterrorism; Joint Special Operations Command, as deputy commander of the Joint Reconnaissance Task Force; executive office of the President at the White House, where he served on the National Security Council as the director of Strategy and Policy for the Office of Combating Terrorism; and the senior defense officer at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City.
About the photos: On the left, Colin Kilrain takes down an unidentified opponent in an image from a Lehigh wrestling website; on the right, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame portrait of Kilrain.
Thomas Norris, 2014 Medal of Courage
“Courage is the one word that most accurately describes Tom Norris. His entire life has been a lesson in valor.” That’s the opening statement for the National Wrestling Hall of Fame’s official bio for the recipient of its 2014 Medal of Courage award, Thomas J. Norris.
Norris was an Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) wrestling champion for the University of Maryland in 1965 and 1966. A sociology major with a minor in criminology, he dreamed of a career with the FBI, but as the Vietnam War intensified, he decided to join the Navy.
Shortly after graduating college, he earned an officer’s commission and joined the SEALs. As described in the citation accompanying his Congressional Medal of Honor, Lieutenant Norris completed an unprecedented ground rescue of two downed pilots in two separate missions in Vietnam.
“By his outstanding display of decisive leadership, undaunted courage, and selfless dedication in the face of extreme danger, Lieutenant Norris enhanced the finest tradition of the U.S. Naval Services.”
But that is not the end of Norris’s heroics. Six months later, while protecting forces evacuating to his rear, Norris suffered a devastating head wound and was left for dead. A fellow Navy SEAL went to recover the body and discovered that Norris was still alive, earning his own Medal of Honor for the rescue.
After numerous surgeries, years of recovery, and the adjustment to life with only one eye, Norris had not given up on his dream of becoming an FBI agent. In spite of his physical challenges, he was able to pass the same tests required of every other aspiring agents and served as an FBI special agent for 20 years.
About the photos: On the left, Tom Norris as a University of Maryland wrestler, from the 1966 Terrapin yearbook. On the right, Norris’ portrait supplied by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.