J Robinson and Chad Kraft represent wrestling in M Club Hall of Fame Class of 2012
In another year of celebrating the rich tradition of Gopher Athletics, the University of Minnesota will welcome another cast of inductees into the M Club Hall of Fame. The Class of 2012 is made up of nine members, including two glittering representatives for Minnesota Wrestling: former student-athlete Chad Kraft (1996-1999) and current head coach J Robinson.
Robinson makes history with his induction, becoming the first-ever active coach to receive an invitation. He is one of only a few nationwide coaches to receive such an honor, and among fewer still to receive that honor at an institution that is not an alma mater. Robinson graduated from Oklahoma State in 1969 and had successful coaching careers at the University of Iowa and on the Olympic stage before joining the Gopher team.
No doubt the most decorated head coach in Gopher Wrestling history, Robinson has developed an environment of excellence that has seen Minnesota rise to elite status in college wrestling. Since taking over the Gopher program in 1986, Robinson’s teams have claimed the first three national championships in Minnesota history (2001, 2002, 2007), while the three-time national coach of the year, six time Big Ten oach of the year has helped develop 57 All-Americans, 13 individual national champions, six Big Ten team titles and 29 individual Big Ten champions.
All told, Robinson’s wrestlers have amassed a total of 109 All-America honors, including a NCAA record 10 All-Americans during the national championship run in 2001. His .743 winning percentage is a program record, and his 388 dual meet victories stand as the second best mark in Minnesota wrestling history — just five wins away from overcoming Wally Johnson for the all-time win record.
The late 90s were a golden time for Gopher wrestling due in large part to Chad Kraft who competed for the Maroon and Gold from 1996 to 1999. Kraft was an integral competitor helping the team to a Big Ten second-place finish in 1997 and a Big Ten title in 1999. With Kraft on the squad, the Minnesota finished third at the 1997 NCAA Championships and took consecutive runner-up finishes in 1998 and 1999.
While at Minnesota, Kraft amassed a record of 115-23-0 (.833 win percentage) and solidified his name forever in the history books by becoming Minnesota’s first four-time All-American, never placing outside the top five at the national championship. Kraft currently ranks 18th in all-time career victories (115) and 7th in career dual meets (65).
The official induction of the 2012 class will take place during a ceremony to be held in the DQ Club Room at the TCF Bank Stadium on Thursday, Sept. 20th. A social hour beginning at 6 p.m. will kick off the event, with the main program starting at 7 p.m.