Benson, Minn. – Eleven new members were inducted into the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association (MWCA) Dave Bartelma Hall of Fame on Saturday, April 29th in Benson, Minn.
The new inductees honored were Russ Holland, Bill Germann, Bill Olson, Jim Nunn, Tom Press, Dick Saxlund, Steve Saxlund, and Mark Voyce. Also inducted as Pioneers of Minnesota Wrestling were Gene Lybbert, LeRoy Maas, and Harry Bockhaus. Many past Hall of Fame inductees were in attendance.
MWCA Coach of the Year honorees were Class A-Brandon Gruchow of West Central Area/Ashby/Brandon-Evansville, Class AA-Chuck Vavrosky of Bloomington Kennedy, and Class AAA-Dalen Wasmund of Apple Valley.
The MWCA selected Link Steffen of Zumbrota-Mazeppa as State Head Coach of the Year. Selected as State Assistant Coach of the Year was Mark Krier of Zumbrota-Mazeppa. Steffen and Krier, along with MWCA Mr. Minnesota Wrestler selection Brady Berge of Kasson-Mantorville represent Minnesota as The National Wrestling Coaches Association’s State (NWCA) award winners, which qualifies them for further NWCA honors at the Regional and National levels.
The MWCA presented State Champion and State Runners-up awards based on the unofficial individual state tournament scoring to: Class A – 1st Zumbrota-Mazeppa, 2nd Minneota; Class AA – 1st Kasson-Mantorville, 2nd Simley; Class AAA – 1st Shakopee, 2nd Apple Valley. Check out 2017 individual-based State team scores here: Class A | Class AA | Class AAA.
Coaches recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award for coaching longevity were Mark Aho of Fergus Falls, Jeff Briard of Redwood/River Valley, Scot Davis of Owatonna, Larry Herm of Foley, Russ Holland of Pierz, Mark Jensen of Pierz, Dan Jinks of Grand Rapids, Allen LeFleur of FCLMC (Fillmore Central/Lanesboro/Mabel-Canton), John Lorenzen of St. Francis, and Joe Traen, Watertown-Mayer/Mayer Lutheran.
Photos by Jeff Beshey:
2017 Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association Dave Bartelma Hall of Fame inductees
|Russ Holland||Don Meyers|
|Bill Germann||Judd Sather|
|Bill Olson||Rick Rud|
|Jim Nunn||Jeff Lamphere|
|Tom Press||Jack Zindel|
|Dick Saxlund||Melissa Saxlund|
|Steve Saxlund||Melissa Saxlund|
|Mark Voyce||Brett Bartholomaus|
Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association Dave Bartelma Hall of Fame Inductee Biographies
Harry Backus, Coach
Harry Backus coached at Mound High School from 1944-1957. His teams had a record of 88-17-1.He had 70 state entrants, 50 state place-winners, and many state champions.(George Coffee,-(2x), Gary Erdman-(2x), Calvin Schwalbe, William Oglund, Lyle Swanson, Richard Iacono, Floyd Laumann, Charlie Coffee, Robert Koehnen, Jerry Geyen-(2x), Lewellyn Schwalbe, Neil Palmer, W. Koehnen, and Richard Ahlberg. His 1947 team won the state title.In 1955 they placed third, 1956, 2nd, and in 1957 placed 11th.
Gene Lybbert, Coach
Gene grew up in the farming community of Cresco, IA. one of the most prestigious wrestling high school communities in Iowa. Gene participated for four years in wrestling as well as three years on the baseball team. Lybbert was state runner-up his junior and senior years. Serving as team captain his senior year when Cresco captured the Iowa State High school wrestling title in1948.
Lybbert’s high school success caught the eye Coach Dave McCuskey of ISTC, who offered Gene a scholarship and so his journey as a grappler began in the fall of 1948. The practice room provided plenty of great training partners- like John Harrison, Keith Young, Luverne Klar, Fred Stoker all under the watchful eye of Coach McCuskey. Gene was a two-time All-American for Iowa State Teachers College (now University Northern Iowa -UNI), placing third at 130 pounds in 1951 and winning the NCAA title at the same weight class in 1952.
With degree in hand and looking for a job. Gene found one in the U.S. Army. Deployed to Korea he spent months on the front line. Upon Gene’s discharged from the Army he soon found himself as the new head wrestling coach and teaching Social Studies at Blue Earth High School in Minnesota.
Gene Lybbert was the Blue Earth, Minnesota wrestling coach from 1954 to 1958. His first year the Buccaneers compiled a 12-1 dual meet record, they were Conference, Region champs and placed second in the State meet, runner-up to Anoka by a 42-40 score. The next three years proved to be even more successful as Lybbert’s Blue Earth Buccaneer wrestlers, dominated the Minnesota high school wrestling scene with three championship teams. In 1957 Gene had five Region Champions, and then all five were crowned State Champions, (Brad Hooper, Al Deleon, Monte Peterson, John Murphy, and Albert Russ) plus another team State Championship title was won. After teaching/coaching for just four years and three state titles, Gene left Blue Earth and entered the insurance business (with his father-in-law)
Gene has been recognized for his four years of contributions to wrestling and has been elected to the following institutions: UNI Hall of Fame, Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame and Glen Brand Hall of Fame
Lybbert’s, philosophy as a coach was very basic, but right to the point. “Wrestling is a rare participation sport because it provides competition for all sizes and shapes of youngsters and all weights. It’s a wonderful sport which serves as a body builder and conditioner.” Gene coached 14 individual State champions and had 9 other top four finishers. Minnesota had only one class system and only eleven weight classes at this time, with only the region champion advancing to the State tournament. Gene’s wrestling schedule always included competition with many Iowa teams and tournaments with high caliber competition, his coaching record was 39 wins and 7 losses, with most losses going to Iowa teams.
Coach Gene instilled in his Blue Earth wrestlers, the love for the sport, and that hard work and dedication will pay big dividends in our success. His leadership style produced many great successful coaches, wrestling programs, teachers and great leaders of today. These programs have produced a dozen state wrestling team championships in Minnesota and Iowa, many individual state champions and state place winners, NCAA College wrestling All-Americans, and National Champions.
Gene married his college sweetheart Katherine “Kak” Nordly in the spring of 1951 while both were still in college. They have five children, Sue (Greg) Garvin, Lynn (Wayne) Weldon, Tracy (Joby) Javellana. Brad (Beth) Lybbert and Jeffery Lybbert. His wife “Kak” passed away in 2008 after a long fight with cancer. Gene retired from a very successful insurance business and still lives in Cedar Falls where he can be seen attending UNI events.
LeRoy Maas, Coach
LeRoy Maas was born in St. Paul, Minnesota on September 5, 1917. married Lillian Goodrich of Pillager, MN On June 7, 1940, in Bemidji, MN.He attended elementary school at Dist. No. 17 in Ramsey County, St. Paul. He graduated from John Marshall High School in Minneapolis in 1935. He received a B.S. degree from Bemidji State College in 1940, an M.A. degree from the University of Minnesota in 1950, and a Specialist (5th year) degree as a Health Coordinator from Mankato State University in 1975. LeRoy taught Social Studies, Physical Education and coached Football, Basketball, and Track at Onamia High School from 1940 to 1942. He then went to Tracy in 1942 and had the same teaching and coaching assignments.He came to Albert Lea High School in 1943 where he taught Physical Education, Health and coached B Squad Football, Wrestling, and Track at the High School level.LeRoy served in the U.S. Navy from 1945 to 1946.He taught for a period of 40 years and retired in 1980.When Maas was hired, he said he was told to instill discipline, which is something his wrestlers remembered.“When I started, they said ‘We want discipline,’” Maas said. “So I gave them discipline. I had them duck walk if they screwed up. They’d have to squat down and walk. That’s hard to do.”
Equipment the first few years was scarce for the Tigers. “There was no schedule from the year before. There were no uniforms. No wrestling room. No mats,” Maas said.Albert Lea’s wrestlers made due with the mats from behind the basketball hoops in the gym.Maas, a former collegiate hockey and football player, had no previous experience on the mat, so he educated himself on the subject by going to clinics and reaching out to other wrestling coaches. After speaking with Mason City’s head coach, Maas decided to take his team down to Iowa to practice. “I arranged it so I could take my kids down on the bus, and our kids would wrestle their kids,” Maas said. “His kids were coaching my kids, and they were happy to help.”When Albert Lea’s wrestled its first match against Mason City, Maas said the Tigers lost 48-0.“That’s starting from scratch,” he said. Albert Lea’s program improved and qualified for the state tournament five times as a team under his guidance. Maas said he worked long hours, but it wasn’t really work because he loved his job. “I was there from the first thing in the morning to the last thing at night, and I enjoyed it,” he said. “I’ve had so many kids in school, and I love my work.”LeRoy also served as the City Recreation director in Albert Lea from 1951 to 1968. He started many programs that are still operating today.He was active in many community affairs and received many awards, national, regional, state, and local for his work in education and community service. 1995, previous wrestling students, Dr. Manny Steil, Pete Veldman and Frank Gallagher, founded the LeRoy Maas Scholarship Fund in Coach Maas’ honor. To date, 71 scholarships totaling $98,000.00 have been awarded and $158,000 raised. LeRoy died on May 10th, 2014.Mr. Maas is survived by his three daughters, JoAnn, Kathleen and her husband Lenny, Susan and her husband Jay and son, Ronald. Four grandchildren include Elise Free, Todd Madison, Jason and Trevor Muchow. Three great-granddaughters, Madison and Ava Free and Penny Muchow.was preceded in death by his wife Lillian.
Russ Holland, Coach
Russ Holland attended Fridley High School, graduating in 1966. He began wrestling in the 8th grade. His record at Fridley High School was 78-6-1. He was 2nd in the state as a junior at 127 lbs. He won the state title at 133 lbs. as a senior and finished the season with a 30-0 record. Hall of Fame coach Don Meyers called Russ “the best athlete I ever coached at Fridley High School.” Russ continued his wrestling at the University of Northern Michigan, where he amassed a record of 92-7. He was a four-year captain and was an All-American (5th place) in the NCAA Div. II Championships at 158 lbs. in 1970. Upon graduating from college with a B.S. in Education, Russ began coaching in Ishpeming, Michigan. During the 1972-73 season, Russ coached his team to a 29-1-1 record. He had two state championship teams and twelve state champions. He was voted Michigan’s Coach of the Year in 1973. He coached at Flint Atherton in Michigan in 1974, and he began coaching at Minneapolis Roosevelt in 1975 as an assistant. He was the head coach at Park Center High School from 1976-1993 and from 1997-2007. His record there was 163-121-2. He had one state champion, nine state place winners, and sixty-seven state qualifiers. He was voted Minnesota State Coach of the Year in Class AAA in 2000. Russ ran the first 32-man B squad tournament at Park Center, and also the first 36 team dual meet at Park Center. He was the Region 5AA Coordinator for five years, and he also was a Region/Section Rep for five years. He served as the MWCA Membership Chair for five years as well. Russ officiated for 34 years, and he served as the Assignment Secretary for the Metro and Skyline Wrestling Officials Association for 28 years. He assisted with the MSHSL State Wrestling Tournament for ten years, and he officiated at the state tournament for one year. Russ has been subbing as well as coaching junior high wrestling and working as an assistant varsity coach for the past seven years in Pierz. Russ has been married to his wife Jill for 48 years. They have two kids, Erin (john) Woodman and Todd (Jenn) Russ and Jill also have six grandchildren: Cable, Conner, Chloe, Rylie, Larysa, and Cooper.
Bill Germann, Coach
Bill Germann was born in Brooklyn, New York. He moved from the City to Long island, New York and graduated from Wantagh high School in 1965. As a senior, he placed runner-up in the New York State Championships. Bill attended Minnesota State University-Moorhead and in 1969 graduated with a degree in Health, Physical Education, and Recreation. While at MSUM, he was a 3 time Northern Intercollegiate Conference Champion at 130 lbs. He served as captain during the 1968-69 season. He was a two-time NAIA All-American, placing 3rd in 1966 and 4th in 1967. Upon graduation, Bill returned to Long island, New York to teach Physical Education K-6 in the Valley Stream Central School District and coach junior high wrestling in the neighboring Valley Stream North School District. At the end of the school year, Bill was drafted into the United States Army and served in the infantry in Vietnam from 1971-1972. After his tour of duty, he married his college sweetheart Linda, returned to Long island and started teaching Health, Physical Education and Driver Education in the Hampton Bays School District from 1972-1974. While there, he started the first ever wrestling program at the school. In 1974 he and his wife returned to Minnesota to teach in the Eden Prairie School District. He coached in the Eden Prairie Junior High from 1974-1977 then became the head wrestling coach in 1977-78. He earned a record of 196-132-6. During his tenure, his teams won five conference championships, one regional title, and many regional runners-up. He coached Eden Prairie’s first-ever state wrestling champion (Nick Ledin) in 1998. His 1985-86 team won the Region and took 3rd in the MSHSL State AA Dual Tournament. He stepped down from the head coaching position and continued coaching the 9th-grade wrestling team from 1998-2005. Bill and Linda have two daughters: Callie Burris (Craig) and Lezlie Tooley (Rich); and four granddaughters Emily, Isabella, Finley, and Signe.
Bill Olson, Contributor
Bill Olson attended LeRoy-Ostrander High School, graduating in 1976.While in high school he was a three-sport athlete, a six-year letter winner and a state entrant in his senior year of wrestling.Bill continued his wrestling career with two years at Waldorf Junior College and two years at Winona State University, where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Education in 1980. Bill has been officiating for 30 years. He serves as the Treasurer of the Southern Minnesota Wrestling Official’s Association. Bill has been very active in helping at the youth level, officiating and recruiting officials for the NYWA tournament. He has been a mentor to many young officials, and he has worked hard to recruit new officials to the sport of wrestling.has been chosen to work the state tournament over 20 times. Bill is very proud to serve as the head official for the Clash, one of the premier dual meet tournaments in the country. Bill helps with rule interpretations, weigh-ins, and most importantly recruiting and retaining officials from all over the United States. He is pleased to say many of these officials and coaches have become very good friends. He has been the recipient of the MSHSL Distinguished Service Award for officials in 2012 and has served on the MSHSL Officials Advisory Board.Bill was awarded the Region 1 Officials Award in 2010. He was inducted into the Region 1 Hall of Fame in 2012. Bill is regarded as one of the state’s top officials. Today Bill continues to be a union painter/vinyl hanger working at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.He and his wife Bobbi have been married for 35 years and have three adult children; Brittlyn and twins, Brady and Breanna.
Jim Nunn, Coach
Jim attended East Grand Forks High School, graduating from there in 1980.He attended Concordia College in St. Paul, where he earned a degree in Physical Education and Coaching.He later earned his Master’s degree in Athletic Administration from the College of St. Thomas in 1992.He served as the head coach at De la Salle High School from 1984-1989, where he had one state wrestling tournament entrant.He then was the head coach at the Blake/Breck High School from 1989-1993, where he again had one state tournament entrant.He coached at Prior Lake High School as head coach from 1993-1994.coached at Brooklyn Center High School, where his team captured a Section title in 1998.He coached thirteen individual state tournament entrants.He Then served as the co-Head Coach at Minnetonka Public Schools from 1999-2012, where he and Jeff Lamphere coached nineteen individual state tournament entrants.Minnetonka also won the Classic Lake Conference title in 2004-05 and again in 2008.as section rep in several sections for several years. He was the AA Editor for Wrestling Individual Rankings from 1995-1998.He was the 1998 4AA and 2010 6AAA Section Wrestling Coach of the Year.’s wife’s name is Zibby, and they have/had three children: Matthew, Jimmer, and Timmy, who is forever in their hearts.Jim’s most rewarding thing in all of these years is watching the young men he worked with grow into men of integrity, character, and productive citizens.
Tom Press, Athlete
Tom attended East Lansing High School in Michigan, graduating from there in 1974. While in high school he placed third in the Michigan High School State Tournament. He was fourth and seventh in the national AAU tournament. He attended the University of Minnesota, where he earned a degree in Business Administration. In college, he was All-Big 10 twice. He was also a Williams Academic Scholar. Upon graduating in 1979, (and he would later receive his MBA from St. Thomas University in 1984), Tom was a five-time national Greco-Roman Champion and twice a national freestyle runner-up. He was a member of the U.S. World Team, the University World Team, (placed fourth), and made the World Cup team twice. He was an alternate on the 1984 Olympic Team. Tom served as an assistant coach for the University of Minnesota from 1979-1984. He coached and worked with several All-Americans and Big 10 Champions: Jim Trueday, Jim Martinez, Dan Zilverberg, Gary LeFebvre, Dalen Wasmund, and Ed Giese. Today Tom is the CEO of Next Century Growth Pension Investors. His wife’s name is Stella, and they have four children: Frank, Samantha, Tiara, and Alexis.
Richard Saxlund, Contributor
Richard “Dick” Saxlund attended Lisbon High School in Lisbon, ND, graduating from there in 1961. While in high school Dick competed in football, wrestling, and baseball.
Dick attended Mayville State and graduated in 1965 with a degree in Education with a double major in Business Education and Physical Education. The football team went 25-6 in the four years that he was on the varsity. In wrestling, Dick was a four-year starter and a three-year captain. He achieved a record of 46-16. He was a State Runner-up and a two-time Conference runner-up.
Dick taught and coached at Leroy-Ostrander from 1965-1967. Leroy-Ostrander was 24-1-1 in that two-year span. They also had one state champion and one state runner -up.
Dick then taught and coached at Pipestone High School from 1967-1996. Dick has over 35 years of coaching under his belt. Jim Carr, Hall of Fame coach from Adrian, MN, called Dick, “a mentor who was always professional.” Gary Haupert, current assistant coach for Pipestone (who wrestled for Dick) said, “I just don’t know how many coaches would have taken all of that time out of their summers to help us guys out in wrestling but Coach Saxlund did. As a coach, he was always patient and willing to teach the sport of wrestling to anyone.” Rob Butman (former wrestler for Dick) said, “Dick was a good guy, ran a tough practice, and expected you to do your best at all times.” When Dick retired he was in the top 100 Minnesota coaches with 228 wins.
Dick coached some great wrestlers in the history of Pipestone: Perry Kozlowski, a MN state champ in 1975 (who was MN State Athlete of the Year) and an All-American football player and All-American wrestler at NDSU; Scott Dubbelde, MN State Champ, NAIA runner-up at SMSU; Dustin Darveaux, a three-time state place- winner and a three-time NCAA Div. II All-American at St. Cloud State University; Steve Saxlund, MN State Champion, and a 3-time NCAA Div. II National Champ/4-time All-American at NDSU; Rob Butman, State Qualifier, 3- time NAIA qualifier, Minnesota State University-Moorhead; and Joel Loose, a NCAA Div. II All-American at Mankato State. All in all, he coached five state champions, five state runner-ups, thirteen state place-winners, 33 state qualifiers, 1 NHSCA. High School Nationals Runner-up, and ten collegiate All-Americans with three national titles. He came back into coaching to help current head coach Brian Bos to help keep wrestling strong in Pipestone. He has served as the Director of Apparel for the Rumble on the Red Wrestling Championships (the largest high school event in the Midwest.) Dick currently resides in West Fargo with his wife Barbara. They have two children, Melissa and Steve (Angie) and three grand-daughters: Brooklyn, Peyton, and Brynlie.
Steve Saxlund, Athlete
Steve Saxlund attended Pipestone High School, graduating in 1996. Steve was captain of the football team his senior year and a 4-year captain of the wrestling team. Steve was an undefeated State Champion (36-0) his senior year at 160 lbs, a runner-up as a junior and 4th as a sophomore. His high school career record was 186-26-1. Steve was the 1996 Runner-up at NHSCA Senior Nationals at 160 lbs. He was a USA Wrestling Junior National All-American and USA Wrestling FILA Junior All-American (both in Freestyle). Steve was named to the 1996 Amateur Wrestling News All-American Team and was a Prep Wrestling Coast-to-Coast All-American. Steve was a five time All- Conference wrestler and a three time Academic All-State selection. He attended North Dakota State University (NDSU) and continued to excel both on the mat and in the classroom. Steve was a four-time NCAA Div. II finalist and a three time Div. II National Champion. He was named the NCAA’ Division II Outstanding wrestler in 2001. Steve was the first wrestler born in Minnesota to win 3 NCAA titles at any level. He helped NDSU win three team tides in 1998, 2000, and 2001. He was a four-time North Central Conference (NCC) champion, four-time NCC Outstanding wrestler and four-time NCC All-Academic pick. He was named the NDSU Male Student-Athlete of the Year in 2001 and was a four time National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Academic selection. Steve graduated from NDSU in 2001 with a BS in Biology and later with a Master’s Degree in Sports Management. Steve also received an NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship. Today, Steve owns and operates several businesses induding wrestling clothing company 3X Gear and Herd & Horns Bar & Grill both out of Fargo, ND. Steve is also the founder and director of the largest high school sanctioned tournament in the country, Rumble on the Red Wrestling Championships. Steve’s wife’s name is Angie, and they have three daughters: Brooklyn, Peyton, and Brynlie.
Mark Voyce, Coach
Mark Voyce attended Knoxville High School in Iowa, graduating from there in 1979. While in high school he achieved a record of 85-15 and was third in the Region his junior and senior seasons. He continued with wrestling at Cornell College in Iowa, but injuries kept hina from finishing. He graduated from college in 1983 with an Elementary Education and Physical Education degree. He later graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Master’s Degree in Education. He began coaching at Hayfield in 1986 as an assistant to Hall of Fame Coach Dave Erickson, then co-coached with Dave Erickson, and he continued until 1998. He coached again from 2007-2011. He attained a record of 186-94-1, and his teams reached the finals three times. They were second in 1993 and 1996, and they won the 1997 Class A title, defeating Canby, Frazee, and Kimball Area. Mark coached 52 individuals qualify for the state tournament, 31 place-winners, and 11 state champions. Several of his wrestlers have gone on to become successful college, wrestlers and high school coaches. Brett Bartholomaus, who wrestled for Mark, said, ‘Where ever he has been, he has achieved high marks for his efforts and willingness to learn the skills necessary to be successful. Mark has mentored me as a young head coach to the point where we have spent hours on the phone talking about philosophy, technique and different ways of getting the very best out of the kids in our program. Even today at camps he can still connect with the kids that are going through the battle of high school wrestling.” Hall of Fame Coach Bill Sutter from Goodhue commented, “Goodhue and Hayfield had one of the best rivalries in Southern Minnesota. We had very intense matches with the legendary Hall of Fame coach Dave Erickson. Then, along came Mark Voyce and Hayfield did not skip a beat. It his been an honor to coach against Mark. Win or lose we had a great relationship.” Hall of Famer Rick Rud notes that “Mark is one of the few young officials to have the rankings to officiate the State Team finals in such a short time (second year). I attribute this success to Mark’s ability to sit back and learn everything he can before he engages.”
Mark stepped down as a head coach at the end of the 1999 season and began to officiate, which he still does today. He is regarded as an excellent official, and he has been selected to work the state finals and the state team finals. Today Mark is still an elementary education teacher in Hayfield. Mark’s wife is Melissa, and they have two children, MacEagon and Metea.