I was the head wrestling coach
Knox College from 1985 to
1989, and then again from 1992-2000. In 2000, I demoted
myself to assistant coach because I simply no longer had the time to be
an effective head coach.
From 2000 to 2015, I was very happy to serve as an assistant coach to a
series of coaches: Brian
Islas (12 seasons), Joe
Norton (one season), and Matt
Lowers (one season). Unfortunately, Knox dropped its wrestling
program in the summer of 2015. During my years of coaching we
only occasionally had
that was solid throughout the lineup. However, I have coached a
number of individual wrestlers who had outstanding careers, including a
two-time All-American, an Academic All-American, several conference
champions, and dozens of conference and regional placewinners. I
am particularly proud of how well most of my wrestlers
done in life after they graduated. There are plenty
of doctors, lawyers, scientists, & teachers in the
below, and we can even claim a professional artist, a
film maker, a judge, a state senator, and an individual named to Time Magazine's "100 Most
Influential people in the World" list among our ranks. The
this page are a hodge-podge that represent just a few of the people and
events from my coaching career, with an emphasis on those wrestlers who
had outstanding four-year careers during the time that I was
coaching at Knox. I wish that I could have
acknowledged all of the great people I have worked with during those
During Homecoming in October of
2015 (ironically, just after the
wrestling program was dropped), three different individuals with Knox
wrestling connections were inducted into the Knox Athletic Hall of
Fame. The three inductees were Chuck Porter (the founder of Knox
wrestling and its long-time benefactor), Al Partin (the head coach from
1954-1983), and Jaran Rutledge, '08, a two-time All-American and Knox
career win leader). The pictures above were taken on the night of
the awards banquet and they include a cast of former coaches and
wrestlers from throughout the history of the Knox wrestling
program. The photo of me at the podium was taken as I was reading
the citation and induction for Chuck Porter.
The Knox wrestling team with Chuck Porter, the founder of wrestling at
Knox, after the annual "Chuck Porter Duals" on January 9, 2010.
Brian Hastings, '99 was one of
the best wrestlers that I coached, and he was my assistant coach for
one year and he served as head coach at Knox for another year.
Over the years, we have gotten to be good friends and we go out on the
town together whenever he visits Galesburg. We spend the evening
drinking and boring his saintly wife Amy (who took these photos) with
embellished stories of our glory days together. Brian is
currently a high school teacher and the head wrestling coach at Fenton
High School in suburban Chicago.
Greg Ventris, '15, and Che Woodson, '18 in action at the Knox Duals in
A picture of me with Greg Ventris,
'15 after he placed 5th at the 2014
Chuck Porter Open. Also in the picture is Ellen Ramsey, '12, our
long-time manager and psych major who came back to Knox to help
us run this year's tournament. Ellen is now the Director of
Eligibility Services at the NAIA in Kansas City.
Head Coach Matt Lowers with Chuck Porter at the 2014 Chuck
The two photos above are from the team wrestling banquet in March of
2014. Pictured on the left (L to R) are assistant coach Cowan
Brown, Greg Ventris' 15 (Team Captain and winner of the first Chuck
Porter Award), and head coach Joe Norton. I am pontificating
about something in the picture on the right.
Matt Surprenant, '17 - Conference Champion, Regional Placewinner, and
team MVP as
A picture of me working the head scorer table at the Knox
Wrestling Tournament in November, 2013. The photo was taken by
The 2013-2014 Knox College Wrestling Team
Knox heavyweight Stephen Bora - 2013 Northern Wrestling
This picture shows me with two of our
Tim Yee, '10, and Marty
Dertz, '09, before a meet against Central College of Iowa
(held at Augustana College)
in January of 2009.
This picture shows a gathering of Knox wrestling at the 2008
Champiosnhips in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Pictured left to right
are Chuck Porter, the guy who started the wrestling program at Knox
almost 70 years ago, current Knox head coach Tony Islas, Jaran
Rutledge, Knox's two-time All-American heavyweight, Frank McAndrew,
long-time head coach and current assistant coach, and Bob Kuykendahl, a
former Knox wrestler who was Jaran's high school coach at Carmel
Catholic H.S. in Mundelein, Illinois.
The pictures above show Knox's first two-time All-American
Rutledge (Class of 2008), shortly after he placed 3rd in the
heavyweight class at the
2007 NCAA Division III national wrestling tournament. Rutlege
is also the all-time career win leader at Knox with 116 victories.
on the left is assistant coach Frank McAndrew and head coach Tony Islas.
Leibach, Class of '08 (Currently a high school art teacher and
wrestling coach in Galesburg)
Josh "Chilly" Franklin, Class of '07 (Currently a law student at
New York law School)
(I am the first guy on the left in the second
row, just in case you could not tell me apart from the young, in-shape
Andrew "Scooter" Batt, Class
Vince Singleton, Class of '03
(Currently a Dance Instructor & Massage Therapist in
Cities of Iowa/Ilinois)
a film maker & college instructor in
No record of my years of Knox wrestling would be complete without
least a mention of Janelle Curtis Eckdhal, Class of 2001.
one of several female wrestlers that I coached at Knox, but she was the
only one who had any real success. She was a four-year letter
winner, and as far as we can tell, she
is the only woman ever to defeat a male opponent in NCAA competition
(pinning a male wrestler from Wabash College (Time of Fall: 2:13) in a
dual meet held at Knox College on February 13th, 1999).
Janelle was quite competitive in many of
and while at Knox she placed 2nd in the University National
Championships for women. I love to tell people that I am one
of the only wrestling coaches ever to attend the wedding of two of his
wrestlers to each other. Janelle married Eric Eckdhal, class
of 2000, who was a heavyweight wrestler in our program at the same time
as Janelle. Janelle is now a dentist living in Wisconsin, and
she and Eric are the proud parents of four children.
Andy Van Zee, Class of '00
(Vice president of the Indiana Hospital Association; Responsible for
managing $10.3 million in federal stimulus
Matt Berg, Class of '00
(Named to Time Magazine's 2010 List of the 100 Most Influential people
in the World)
(Currently the Information & Communication Technology
Coordinator for the Millenium Village Project at Columbia University in
New York City; Spends a great deal of time working in Africa.
Matt received an Honorary Degree from Knox in 2015.)
Tony Spizzirri, '98 (an Academic All-American), and Brian
Hastings, '99 (Third on the Knox Career win list and a former coach at
are now high school teachers and wrestling coaches in the Chicago area.
Hastings, Class of '99
Class of '98 (Currently a banker in the Chicago area)
Knox College Wrestling, 1997-98
Me, Paul Robison & Adam Wende, Late 1990s
Knox Wrestling 1995-96
Knox Wrestling 1994-95
John Doke, Class of '95 inflicting pain on a Monmouth
(John currently works for the U.S. Postal Service in the Rockford, IL
Me coaching from the corner at a tournament in 1988 or 1989;
big guy sitting next to me is the late Phil Gustafson, my assistant
coach at the time.
A picture of me with my
assistant coach in the late 1980s, Phil Gustafson.
John Martinek, Class of '90
Class of '88
(Currently an artist living in Iowa City,
(Currently a judge in the circuit court of Lake
Jim Brown, Class of '86
(My first team captain & a Knox Athletic
Hall of Fame Member; Currently
a regional sales manager for a software company in Alabama)