Seven inducted into the 2014 Minnesota Chapter of The National Wrestling Hall of Fame

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame honored seven individuals at The Minnesota Chapter Banquet in Austin, Minn. on Saturday, May 3rd.

The Class of 2014 includes Al Olsen, Mike Bredeck, Charles “Buzz’ Cummins, Joe Frank, Bill E. Garland, Rodney Mosher, and Gary Rettke.

Photos by Jill Schmidt.

 
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GARY RETTKE – Lifetime Service Award

Gary Rettke’s wrestling career includes long chapters of success as a competitor and coach. However, the hallmark of his tenure is a lifelong commitment to giving back to the sport he loves.

Rettke’s involvement in wrestling began in Watonwan County in Minnesota, on the farm where he grew up. He was influenced by his St. James cousins Gene and Jerry Nelson. Gary says, “They let me know in no uncertain terms that I wouldn’t be playing basketball.”

Gary attended St. James High School where he was a three sport athlete in football, wrestling and track. He was coached in wrestling by Ade Sponberg and Darrell Sohn. He qualified for state in the old one class system in 1961. After high school he attended Gustavus Adolphus College and served as the Gusties’ team captain, with the team capturing an M.I.A.C. championship in 1965. Rettke was a conference champion in 1963 and 1964, as well as an NCAA College Division qualifier.

Following college, Gary had a successful 35 year teaching and coaching career at Spring Lake Park High School. Hired at age 22 he was first mentored by veteran coach Harvey Kienholz his first three years. Gary took over as head coach in 1968, heading the program for the next 32 years, and retiring in 2000.

Under Rettke’s leadership 50 wrestlers qualified for state, including seven state champions and many placewinners. Rettke was named Section Coach of the Year several times and led the Panthers to 339 wins, making him the winningest coach in Spring Lake Park High School history in any sport.

Beyond the mat, Gary was heavily involved in the development and growth of wrestling in Minnesota. He served several times as a Section/Region Coaches Representative and later as President of the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association. He also served on the Search Committee for the hiring of Coach J Robinson at the University of Minnesota. Rettke worked hard to create better media and broadcasting coverage for the sport of wrestling too. He served as a USA Wrestling Official, working in freestyle and Greco Roman age-group divisions for some 25 years. He was a pioneer of sorts, working at the first age-group freestyle tournament held at Columbia Heights High school, directed and organized by National Wrestling Hall of Famer Jack Gause. This was a starting point for youth freestyle in Minnesota which expanded the interest and size of high school wrestling in Minnesota.

In 1975 Rettke served as Minnesota’s cultural exchange team coach to Finland. Gary says, “We traveled around the country, wrestling in soccer stadiums, community bandstands and Finnish gymnasiums. It was an incredible experience – and we won too!” Rettke’s family also hosted a Finnish Exchange student, Jukka Rahalla, who went on to win a bronze medal for Finland in the 1984 Olympics. Rahalla now heads the Finnish wrestling program, and served as host to the World Championships in Moscow, Russia in 2010.

Outside of teaching and coaching, Rettke continues to work in the financial services industry as an agent/registered representative. He is also a competitive tennis player and is a veteran on the course security at the Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National held in Georgia.

Rettke also continues to be an active supporter of several charitable organizations including The American Red Cross, Global Health Ministries, Minnesota 4-H, Trout Unlimited and is a charter member of Pheasants Forever. The Rettkes attend Glen Cary Lutheran Church.

The Rettke family includes Gary’s wife, Susan (Susan Benson Rettke), three children in Leah, Naomi, and Philip. They also have five grandchildren in Hannah, Diego, Josie, Luke and Rachel. Gary and Susan have been married for 47 years.

Gary Rettke will always be remembered as one of the pioneers and developers of wrestling in the state of Minnesota. He is one of a few that helped Minnesota wrestling reach national recognition from his volunteer efforts in the freestyle and Greco-Roman age group wrestling beginnings in the early 1970s, as well as serving the MWCA as a Representative and President. He helped make wrestling better in Minnesota!

JOE FRANK – Lifetime Service Award

One of the powerhouse high school coaches that dominated the wrestling scene in Minnesota in the 1970s and the Oregon scene in the latter 1960s was Joe Frank. His Fridley High School teams produced some great wrestlers and teams, as did his Reedsport High School teams in Oregon.

Joe came to Minnesota from Oregon, where he coached at Reedsport High School, located on the Oregon coast. In the three years he coached there he coached eight individual state champions and his teams won three state team titles in 1965, 1966 and 1967. Joe was named Oregon 2-A Coach of the Year in 1966 and 1967.

In 1968 Joe and his family moved to Minnesota. During his career at Fridley, Joe coached five individual state champions and three teams to state team championships in 1973, 1975 and 1979. He coached at Fridley High School for 17 years, from 1968 to 1985. He continued teaching until his retirement in 2000. Joe says, “I feel blessed and thankful to have worked at two wonderful schools, some 1000 miles apart.”

As a wrestler, Joe began his career as a 14 year old with legendary Coach George “Chris” Flanagan at Cresco High school, located in Cresco, Iowa. Frank was a 127-pound state champion in 1959. He went on to wrestle at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. At Iowa State Joe was coached by another legend in the sport in Dr. Harold Nichols. He was a three year starter and 1963-64 team captain. In 1964 his ISU team took second in the NCAA National Tournament. Joe was voted Most Valuable Senior that year by his teammates.

In retirement, Joe has not slowed down. He maintains a passion for fitness and has been involved in competitive running, long-distance biking and horseshoe pitching. He also enjoys woodcarving, gardening and playing the fiddle. Joe is active in his parish, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. In addition, Joe is involved in Men’s Fellowship Club, Eucharistic Ministry and mission trips to Guatemala.

Joe married his high school sweetheart, Janet, in 1962. The Franks have three children – Jodie (Scott) Amble, Jon (Lisa) Frank, and Jill (Michael) Hendon. Joe says, “The best children anyone could ask for!” The Franks also have four beautiful grandchildren – Malena, Veronica, Noah and Elyse. The Franks recently celebrated their 50th year of marriage.

Frank was inducted into the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association Dave Bartelma Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1994, and the Iowa wrestling Hall of Fame in 2003.

Joe Frank will always be a legendary coach in Minnesota High School wrestling history. His influence as a coach and teacher led many student-athletes to accomplish great things both on and off the wrestling mats, gymnasium floors and athletic playing fields.

AL OLSEN – Outstanding American

There are few people that have contributed to the sport of wrestling in the way Al Olsen has over the years. Many will call Al one of the nicest people involved in our sport. This successful and congenial individual is the epitome of the combined qualities needed to be selected for the category of “Outstanding American” for the Minnesota Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

This highly successful businessman started Permac Industries Inc., a manufacturing business in 1966. Permac grew to twenty employees and was sold in 1977. That same year Olsen bought and operated a fly-in fishing lodge in the Canadian Arctic. In 1979 he started another manufacturing business called Wiltec Industries with twenty five employees, many of them former wrestlers. Olsen sold the company in 2004 and retired.

In what spare time Al has had, he strongly supported USA Wrestling, MN/USA Wrestling, the Minnesota Gophers Wrestling Team, and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. He is on the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Al has been a team leader or assistant team leader to numerous international wrestling events. He attended the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, and the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. He attended World Championships in New York in 2003; Budapest, Hungary in 2004, and Baku, Azerbaijan in 2005. He has also attended many NCAA National Championships, USA Team Trials, Pan American competitions in Maracaibo, Venezuela in 2002, Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic in 2003, San Salvador, El Salvador in 2007, and was Assistant Team Leader for the USA at the Dan Kolov Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria in 2000. In 2011 he was the Official Team Leader for the USA Greco-Roman, Freestyle and Women’s teams for the FILA Junior World Championships in Bucharest, Romania.

Al is well known among the legends of wrestling. If you have ever attend an Induction Ceremony at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma you would be impressed with all the legends that know Al on a first name basis. Al is well liked by many in the World of Amateur Wrestling.

Al grew up on Medicine Lake in the suburbs of Minneapolis and attended Wayzata High School. There he wrestled varsity for four years from 1960 to 1964. He was coached by Lee Fretheim.

Al is married to Lynette and they have two children – Pam and Glen. Al claims that Lynette is even more of a wrestling fan than he is. Their daughter Pam is married to Scott and they have a son named Ben. Their son Glen is married to Lindsay and they have two daughters – Lindsay and Kayla. All are great wrestling fans.

Al’s past participation in the sport of wrestling led to his involvement and many contributions over the years. Those contributions do not only include time but financial support as well. Wrestling in Minnesota and the USA would not be as successful without the contributions of people like Al Olsen. The Minnesota Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame proudly honors Al Olsen as our 2014 Outstanding American.

RODNEY MOSHER – Lifetime Service Award

One of the finest college coaches in Northwestern Minnesota was Rodney Mosher. This longtime Crookston (MN) Community College Coach and Northwest School of Agriculture (now University of Minnesota-Crookston) left his mark on many young men and is a well known and respected figure in that part of the state.

Mosher coached for 21 years at two schools. He sent 21 wrestlers to Junior College Nationals, with six becoming All-Americans. He had one team win the Minnesota Community College Tournament title. Mosher spent 13 years at the Crookston Community College, eight years at Northwest School of Agriculture and compiled over 100 dual meet victories, with a win percentage of well over 60%, from 1960 to 1981. He was a 1979 Conference Coach of the Year and a Junior College Region Coach of the Year. His teams won conference titles in 1972, 1973 and 1974. They placed second in the state tournament in 1974, also placing 18th out of 110 colleges in the Junior College Athletic Association National Tournament.

Rod Mosher was not only a quality coach but he helped introduce and promote wrestling in upper northwestern Minnesota. He traveled to various schools, even hauling wrestling mats on his truck, to put on clinics and promote the sport.

Mosher is a man described by his son Brad as “compassionate, purposeful, driven by the path of giving as opposed to gaining, honor instead of ego, leadership through leading, disciplined, dedicated, devoted, determined and diverse, humorous, success in promoting the positive and heartily welcomed by all.”

Rod got his introduction to wrestling in 1950 as a freshman at the Northwest School of Agriculture in Crookston. From what Mosher learned he pursued coaching and found great satisfaction. He not only wanted his wrestlers to become champion athletes, but more importantly, men of integrity in all aspects of their lives.

Possibly Coach Mosher’s prize athlete was NFL All-Pro football player Jim LeClair. LeClair became a defensive captain and middle linebacker for the Cincinnati Bengals. He was selected All-Pro and performed in the 1981 Super Bowl. LeClair says about Mosher, “He inspired me to never give up and pursue my dreams.”

Another of Mosher’s star wrestlers, Paul Kuznik, a two-time state champion and four-time state placewinner, says, “He was a role model that young men could look up to and follow. Rod shaped the lives of thousands of wrestlers that used the skill-sets that he taught us on the wrestling mat and to be productive citizens in society.”

Mosher served as a wrestling official for 20 years. In addition he was active in 4-H, a volunteer fireman in Beltrami, Minnesota, a member of the church council, Vice President of Beltrami City Council, a member of the Cenex Board of Directors, and in the U.S. Marine Corp for two years.

Beyond his many specific wrestling honors, Mosher was honored as an Outstanding Alumnus at Northwest School of Agriculture. He is also a member of the University of Minnesota-Crookston Athletic Hall of Fame.

Mosher has been a longtime farmer and retired in 2001. He was married in 1958 to Judy Ward. Judy and Rodney have four sons who all became top-notch wrestlers. The youngest of the four, Kory, won two national champion titles while attending the University of North Dakota. He is now a top sales and marketing professional. The oldest, Bradley, is a commodity buyer extraordinaire and enjoys his time on the North Dakota Growers Association board. Next in line, Bruce, is a successful entrepreneur, known worldwide for his incredible inventions. The late Kent Mosher was a charming, charismatic, and successfully witty businessman whom is missed greatly. Rod and Judy also have eight grandchildren whom they enjoy spending time with.

Northwestern Minnesota Wrestling is better due to the many efforts of this great coach and friend to wrestling!

BUZZ CUMMINS – Lifetime Service Award

One of Minnesota’s great wrestling coaches of the late 1970s and early 1980s was Elysian, Minnesota native Buzz Cummins. Cummins led his hometown Waterville-Elysian High School team to consecutive third, second, and second place finishes in the 1981, 1982 and 1983 Minnesota State Tournaments. He was also highly active in helping the direction of wrestling in Minnesota, serving on several committees and as President of the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association.

Buzz was a four-sport athlete at Waterville High School, earning numerous letters in football, wrestling, baseball and track. He was an “MVP” in three sports and was captain of three sports too. He won conference and district wrestling championships four times and he participated in the 1961 state wrestling tournament. He was coached by the eldest of the famous Owatonna Bengston brothers, Tom.

Following high school, Cummins did not feel ready for college, so he decided to enroll in barber school in St. Paul. In 1964 he took a position at a barber shop in Owatonna, Minnesota. There he was approached by an administrator to start a wrestling program for young boys. In 1967, at the age of 22, he enrolled at Mankato State College. He decided to give competitive wrestling another try. He was a late season fill-in at 145 pounds for legendary coach Rummy Macias and placed third in the NIC Conference Tournament. He joined the U.S. Army in 1965 and served honorably until his discharge in 1971.

Cummins earned a B.S. degree in 1972 with a major in Business Education and a minor in Physical Education. His first teaching position was in Austin, Minnesota under another Hall of Fame coach, Chuck Prunty. After two years he accepted the head coaching position at Hopkins Eisenhower, taking over for legendary coach Paul Bengston. He says he learned a great deal from Paul. He was also assistant baseball coach at Hopkins.

In 1977, while still at Hopkins, Buzz was selected for cultural exchange wrestling trips as a coach, from 1979-1982. At the end of 1977, his alma mater called Buzz to coach at Waterville-Elysian High School. During the next 11 years Buzz led his Buccaneers to four Minnesota State Tournaments. The Bucs won four Region titles and four runner-up finishes, along with eight District/Sub-Region titles and seven regular season/tournament and conference titles.

Buzz served as President of the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association for two years – 1980 and 1981. He was also the first wrestling coach to win back-to-back State Coach of the Year honors in 1981 and 1982. He has served as a Region Rep and was a member of the State Tournament Committee for a number of years. With Hall of Famer Spencer Yohe, he toured with teams to Baton Rouge, LA, and Washington D.C.

Following his coaching days he spent many years with the weigh-in crew at the state tournament. In 1989 he was named Minnesota Wrestling Man of the Year by Wrestling USA Magazine. He was inducted into the MWCA Bartelma Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1991. He has also served on that selection committee from 1993 to present. In 1990 Buzz accepted the position of Athletic Director at Waterville-Elysian High School and was a member of several MSHSL committees. He kept his eye on the best interests for wrestling during that five-year period.

Current volunteer activities for Buzz include horseback riding, buggy driving, attending sports activities, bike riding and watching his daughters in their coaching activities.

His family includes two daughters – Melissa and Ashley, and a special fiancee’ Eileen. He has two brothers – Don and Fritz, and three sisters – Pat, Doris and Jeanne. Both of Buzz’s daughters were great three-sport athletes. Melissa competed in gymnastics at UW-Oshkosh, winning the NCAA III National Vault Championship in 2001. She now coaches at Northfield High School. Her teams have competed in six state tournaments, placing sixth, third, and first twice and second twice. She was selected 2013 Minnesota (Class AA) Gymnastics Coach of the Year. Her husband Paul Bernard is an elementary PE teacher and a part of the gymnastics coaching staff. Buzz’s other daughter Ashley coaches gymnastics at Faribault High School. Both daughters’ gymnastics teams compete in the same conference and section, so Buzz wears multi-colored shirts to the meets.

MIKE BREDECK – Lifetime Service Award

Quality coaches are really quality teachers and Mike Bredeck exemplifies that on all levels. Both an Education Minnesota semi-finalist and finalist for Teacher of the Year, and named Advisor of the Year for the Minnesota State Student Council, Bredeck has also been an outstanding wrestling coach at three different high schools for 25 years. Bredeck is a great contributor to wrestling in working with the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association and Minnesota State High School League too.

A Vietnam veteran and a humble individual, Bredeck produced many fine teams and individuals coaching in Madison, Minnesota. Bredeck got his start coaching and teaching at Superior High School in Superior, Wisconsin in 1971-72. He moved to Madison High School and coached that program from 1972 to 1990, and the new high school combined of three towns – Madison, Milan and Appleton – called Lac qui Parle Valley High School from 1990 to 1995.

Some of Bredeck’s standout wrestlers were Kelvin Weber – state champion and All-American for Worthington Junior College, Scott Fernholz – three-time state placewinner and All-American at Saint John’s University, David Haas – two-time State runner-up and two-time National Junior College Runner-up at Ridgewater Community College (Willmar, MN), Chris Hansen – state champion and All-American at Ridgewater Community College, and Ryan Jibben – state champion and NCAA Division I qualifier for the University of Wyoming.

Hall of Famer Spencer Yohe describes Mike Bredeck best when he says, “I would put Mike Bredeck in the top 1% of teachers and coaches I’ve met in my lifetime. Mike is certainly a hall of fame coach, a hall of fame giver to our sport, and a hall of fame person. Bredeck’s wrestling teams never lost a dual meet or tournament in District 11 or the Little North Conference from 1980 to 1987.”

As a contributor to wrestling, Bredeck served on the MWCA Scholarship Committee from the 1980s to 2011 which he chaired from 1989 to 1994. He has served on the MWCA Hall of Fame committee from 1996 to the present and has been a floor supervisor for the state tournament from 1997 to the present. He was also editor for the All-State Academic Team for The Guillotine for six years.

Bredeck served on the Minnesota State High School League Advisory Committee for four years and was a Wrestling USA Magazine Assistant Editor for Minnesota. Bredeck was inducted into the MWCA Bartelma Hall of Fame in 1995.

In addition to all of Mike’s work with promoting the sport of wrestling, he has a most honorable past, having been a veteran of the Vietnam War. He has been a member of the American Legion Minnesota Boys State staff for 19 years. He served seven years on the city council and served on the staff of Boys Nation for seven years. Mike has served on the National Committee on Education, which makes selections of the Samsung Scholarship winners annually. He also ran for the Minnesota State House of Representatives in 2006 and 2008.

Hall of Famer George Graff best sums up the qualities of Mike Bredeck when he says, “I have witnessed his constant dedication to all young people he has worked with either as a counselor and/or coach. Through the years I have become aware of the fact that young people he worked with in high school come back years later as young men and women and reconnect with him. One could see that there was a mutual and genuine respect between them. There is no greater achievement in life, and I feel that Mike has done an outstanding job of teaching the lives of many individuals.”

Bredeck is a 1971 graduate of St. Cloud State University. He is currently a sales representative for State Farm Insurance. He has been married to his wife Mary for the past 30 years. They have four daughters – Mary Bredeck (age 30), Laura Johnson (age 27), Kate Bredeck (age 25) and Mollie Anderson (age 23).

West Central Minnesota’s Mike Bredeck is definitely is teacher/coach that many will remember for years to come.

BILL GARLAND – Lifetime Service Award

In 1964 the Moorhead State wrestling team brought home to Minnesota the NAIA National Wrestling Championship. This was a major step for Minnesota college wrestling. The coach of that team was Bill Garland AKA “The Silver Fox”. This was a pioneer effort that brought some major notoriety to amateur wrestling in Minnesota. Garland was awarded NAIA National Coach of the Year for his efforts that year.

Garland came to Moorhead State in 1958 and coached until 1986. His teams produced 58 All-Americans, eleven national champions and four wrestlers inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame. He coached in one of the toughest college wrestling conferences in the nation at that time. Only five college wrestling coaches have coached teams to national championships in Minnesota.

Former Moorhead State wrestler Frank Mosier says, “Coach Garland was the kind of coach who mentored, encouraged, supported, advocated and fought for every wrestler, at every turn.”

Garland coached for 29 years, 28 of those at Moorhead state University (now Minnesota State University Moorhead). He coached one year at Indiana University. Garland was inducted into the NAIA National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1984. He wrestled at Indiana University and is an ex-Marine.

Longtime Sports Information Director at Moorhead State Larry Scott says, “Garland began coaching at Moorhead State in 1958-59, the first of 11 consecutive winning seasons at Moorhead State, and it created a dynasty that remained in full flourish for more than a decade. Soon, the Dragons began to make a serious run at the NIC title and make a major splash on the national level as well. Some early legends, including Rod Wiger, Bill Cronen and Banks Swan helped set the table, but it was the arrival of Bucky Maughan in 1962 that officially marked the beginning of the Golden Age of Dragon wrestling.”

Scott says, “Garland’s top wrestler was Bucky Maughan, out of Canonsburg, PA, a transfer from Indiana State. Maughan quickly demonstrated he had the right stuff. His quickness, repertoire of moves, and unmistakable swagger attracted an instant following and Moorhead State quickly grabbed some national headlines. Maughan secured NAIA national titles in 1962 and 1963, and reached the summit in 1963 by capturing the NCAA Division I national 115-pound title, the only Dragon to win a NCAA Division I individual crown. Because of Maughan’s singular greatness, Moorhead State tied the United States Naval Academy for 11th place on the final team standings.”

Scott says, “While Maughan sizzled on the national scene, he had plenty of support. Heavyweight Bob Billberg, a product of Waukegan, Illinois, made a huge impact as well. Billberg won NAIA national titles in 1964 and 1966, and logged runner-up finishes in the NCAA Division I finals in 1964 and 1966. He also appeared on ABC Wide World of Sports. His list of victims included collegiate legends Curly Culp of Arizona State and Jim Nance of Syracuse.”

Other great stars for the Garland’s Dragons were Frank Mosier, who became a two-time NAIA National Champion at 167 pounds, helping the Dragons win the 1964 NAIA national championship. Three other Dragons won national titles – Earl Stottler, Jim Dreitzler and Rick Stuyvesant. John Morley and Rick Kelvington also placed in the NCAA Division I National Championships. In addition, the Dragons would win NIC team titles in 1965, 1968 and 1969. Stottler was the first Dragon to win a national title, winning the 1961 crown. Morley was named an Olympic Team alternate.

None of the above would have been possible without Coach Bill Garland. Coach Garland, The son of Jack and Pearl Garland ,was born May 23, 1928 in Bloomington, indiana. He died December 9, 2007 in Fargo, North Dakota. As a coach he produced 58 All-Americans. He will always be remembered as the coach that brought a national title to Minnesota college wrestling.

He is survived by a daughter, Lisa (Brad) Kittleson of Fargo, two sons, Scott (Erica) Garland of Fargo, and David (Tracy) Garland of Moorhead. His brother Jack (Pat) Garland lives in Bloomington, Indiana. He is also survived by nine grandchildren and one great-grandson.

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