COACHING WRESTLING AT KNOX COLLEGE

I was the head wrestling coach at 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 Hastings (one season),  Tony 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 a team 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 have done in life after they graduated.  There are plenty of doctors, lawyers, scientists, & teachers in the pictures below, and we can even claim a professional artist, a successful 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 pictures on 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 years.






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 January, 2015



                                          

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 Porter Open.


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 Freshman.



A picture of me working the head scorer table at the Knox Invitational Wrestling Tournament in November, 2013.  The photo was taken by Chuck Porter.


The 2013-2014 Knox College Wrestling Team



Knox heavyweight Stephen Bora - 2013 Northern Wrestling Association Champion




Mario Frye, '15, in action against the University of Dubuque, December, 2012



This is a picture of the three longest-serving head coaches in the history of Knox College wrestling, taken at the Knox homecoming football game on October 20, 2012. From L to R in the photo are head coach Tony Islas, former head coach Al Partin (who coached from 1954-1983), and, of course, me.  Coach Partin was 90 years old when this picture was taken.



The 2012-2013 Knox Wrestling Team




Coaching during a match at the Chuck Porter Duals in January, 2012.  Head coach Tony Islas is the guy to my right, and assistant coach Jake Kerr (a former University of Iowa wrestler) is to my left.


Me with two of our senior wrestlers, James Wagner & Jason Lafavor, in January, 2012.


Senior wrestler Alex Faulkner and I not long after he recorded a 12 second pin against a wrestler from the University of Chicago who went on to become a National Qualifier, January, 2012.



Conference Champ & Great Lakes Regional Placer - James Wagner. '12


The pictures above show me working as the Tournament Director at the 2011 Knox Invitational.  The guy sitting next to me is Drew Flock, a former Knox wrestler who is now an admissions counselor at the college.  I could not run the tournament each year without his help.
           


I appear to be praying during a match at the Chuck Porter Duals in January of 2011;
it probably did not help . . . . .

                                 Coach Tony Islas presenting Eric Steingruber, '14 with the Cleaveland Bridgman Award for being the outstanding performer in an individual sport at Knox College for 2010-2011.  Eric was a conference champion and a placewinner at the Great Lakes Regional during this season.

          

                              Edel Vaca, Class of "11 (Nationally ranked, regional placer, & 2nd in career victories at Knox)



Danny Stafford, '11


The 2009-2010 Knox Wrestling Team
 

Frank McAndrew      
 This picture shows me with two of our wrestlers, 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 National 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 wrestler, Jaran 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.  Shown with Jaran on the left is assistant coach Frank McAndrew and head coach Tony Islas.


Greg 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 the New York law School)

                                                                                                                                                            

Knox Wrestling, 2006-2007
(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 wrestlers.)


   

Knox Wrestling, 2005-2006  

                      
                 Andrew "Scooter" Batt, Class of '05                                                       Vince Singleton, Class of '03                                                           
 (Currently a Dance Instructor & Massage Therapist in the Quad Cities of Iowa/Ilinois)        (Currently a film maker & college instructor in Chicago)   



No record of my years of Knox wrestling would be complete without at least a mention of Janelle Curtis Eckdhal, Class of 2001.  Janelle was 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 her matches, 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 funds )



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 Knox).  Both are now high school teachers and wrestling coaches in the Chicago area.

                                     
                             Brian Hastings, Class of '99                                                               Sean Hastings, 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 Wrestler
(John currently works for the U.S. Postal Service in the Rockford, IL area)


Me coaching from the corner at a tournament in 1988 or 1989; the 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                                                                  Joe Salvi, Class of '88                               
                    (Currently an artist living in Iowa City, IA)                                           (Currently a judge in the circuit court of Lake County, IL)

              

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)
                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                             


My First Knox College Wrestling Team, 1985-86