On Saturday, April 24th, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, Minnesota Chapter held their 19th annual banquet and ceremony and inducted nine new members and honored two from the 2020 class who have contributed significantly to Minnesota Wrestling and beyond. The celebration was held at the Holiday Inn Conference Center in Austin, Minn.
250 people were in attendance, including many former Hall of Fame inductees.
Ricky Ties Jr received the State Medal of Courage Award from Minnesota. Honorees for the Lifetime Service Award for 2021 were Dr. John Berg Jr, Clay Nagel, Charlie Peterson, Terry Sworsky, Jim Tanniehill, Steve Techam, Ken Vogt, and Jim Williams. 2020 inductees Larry Goodnature and Bill Schmidt gave their postponed acceptance speeches.
State chapter inductees are permanently honored at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Museum in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
You can read National Wrestling Hall of Fame, Minnesota Chapter member bios below.
Photos by Jeff Beshey.
Dr. John Berg
Dr. John Berg of New Prague has been a driving force in promoting the sport of wrestling in New Prague and the surrounding area. He has organized youth programs that are still ongoing. He has helped by using his experience and knowledge to assist in caring for the medical needs of the wrestlers and their fans.
Dr. John graduated from St. Thomas Military Academy in 1960. That high school never had a wrestling team at that time. He next attended the University of Minnesota graduating in 1964 with a BA in geography. He passed on opportunities to do graduate work in geography and/or join the CIA. He applied to medical school and chose to attend the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis attending from 1964-1968. He married Ann Penzi of Tucson, Arizona in 1967. He interned at Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul after graduation and began his medical practice in Family Medicine in 1968 in Montgomery. He then moved seven miles north to New Prague in 1972 and established the Parkview Medical Clinic and was in solo practice for two years. He and Ann built a new clinic building in 1973 and hired two associate doctors. The practice grew and Drs. John, Mark, and Daniel Berg built a new clinic building in 2004 to include seven physicians and a physical therapist.
Family physicians in rural small towns have an opportunity to share their knowledge and experiences to give back and be a leader and volunteer. He formed the youth New Prague Wrestling, Inc. after recognizing the need to create a stronger youth organization. He was also involved in many other organizations. He was a member and past president of the Southern Minnesota Medical Association, the Scott-Carver Medical Society, the Nicollet-LeSueur Medical Society, the Queen of peace Hospital in New Prague, the New Prague Chamber of Commerce, Troop 323 Boy Scout Troop Committee and the Parkview Medical Clinic.
Dr. John was a member of the Minnesota Heart Institute medical advisory committee for over 15 years and a member of the House of Delegates of the Minnesota Medical Association for over 30 years. He was LeSueur County coroner for 27 years and was the LeSueur county medical consultant for over 44 years. He practiced family medicine for over 49 years retiring in 2018 because of peripheral neuropathy.
In 2000 he received the WCCO Good Neighbor Award for coaching youth sports including wrestling and baseball. In 2004, he was elected to the New Prague High School Athletic Hall of Fame for coaching and volunteering. In 2007 he received the Minnesota State Athletic Directors Association Award for community involvement in high school sports. In 2014 he received the MSHSL Distinguished Service Award for recognition for many years of outstanding service to the athletic programs of Region 1AA. He volunteered to be a MSHSL tournament physician and skin check physician from 1991 to 2017 with all of his earnings donated to the New Prague wrestling program.
He was head coach and director of New Prague elementary wrestling from 1973-98. He founded New Prague Wrestling Inc. as a non-profit tasked with producing youth wrestling programs for New Prague. Under his leadership, participation grew annually to over 100 wrestlers throughout the 1980s and 1990s. He developed an elementary wrestling weekend tournament program in the local area along with Burt Block (Le Center) and Vince Wilmes (Waterville) that soon expanded to over 15 towns. He was active with Jaycee, USWF and MN/USA. He promoted and organized a two week summer wrestling camp for three years. He was an assistant coach in the high school from 1998-2006 as well as the ninth grade coach. He has been a financial supporter of the New Prague wrestling booster club and lately serves on the planning committee of the successful wrestling booster club golf tournament. In 2013 the annual New Prague kid wrestling tournament which he founded in 1977 was renamed the Doc Berg Classic recognizing both Drs. Mark and John Berg. With the help of his family and many other New Prague wrestling families, coaches and alumni, this tournament has taken place these past 44 continuous years and has used the proceeds of the tournament to help defray the expenses of running the youth wrestling program.
Dr. John and Ann have four adult children. They are John Berg III (Wendy), Dr. Mark Berg (Julie), Dr, Daniel Berg (Tara) and Victoria Fors (Dr. Tait) and fourteen grand children. He is retired in his home in New Prague and leaves for Florida in the winter. He is very honored to be selected to receive this award.
The National Wrestling Hall of Fame-Minnesota Chapter recognizes Dr. John Berg as a deserved 2021 inductee for the Lifetime Service Award.
Larry Goodnature began his wrestling career in Albert Lea from 1967 to 1971 under Hall of Fame Wrestling Coach Paul Ehrhard. In addition to wrestling, Larry participated in Football, Cross Country and Track. In Track Larry set a school record in the Pole Vault at 13 feet, 3 inches. That record stood for some 20 years. In wrestling, Goodnature was a Minnesota State Champion at 145 lbs in the old “one class” system. Assistant Coach Neal Skaar says, “I think a month before the end of his senior year in 1971, he got a lot of confidence and more assertive,” Skaar said, “He beat the defending State Champion in the finals of the Regional Tournament, Mark Lange of Caledonia, then beat him again in the finals of the State Tournament. He had been building confidence his senior year, but that last month was something.”
With Goodnature and other top performers the Albert Lea High School Tigers won the Minnesota State Team Title in 1971. They sent an impressive 5 wrestlers to State that year. Along with Goodnature’s title, teammate Tom Jean also captured a State Title at 167 lbs, with a Runner-up finish from Rick Rieman at 112 lbs. Mike Jean placed 4th at 154 lbs. Steve Tuveson qualified at 95 lbs. Goodnature’s Coach Paul Ehrhard called “Goody” the most technically sound wrestler he’d ever coached, and that’s impressive from a coach who coached so many outstanding wrestlers over his career at Albert Lea.
Larry went on to wrestle at Mankato State University from 1971 to 1976 where he was a 3-time All-American, finishing 4th in the NCAA II National tournament at 158 lbs in 1973; Larry finished 6th in 1974 at 158 lbs and 5th at 158 lbs in 1976. Goodnature wrestled under another legendary Hall of Fame coach in Rummy Macias. After graduating in 1976 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Technology and Physical Education. He accepted his first teaching/ coaching position at Hutchinson High School where he coached for 3 years, from 1976 to 1979, returning to Albert Lea and serving as an Assistant Coach to Neal Skaar. He took over the Head Coaching position in 1992. Goodnature said, “ I always wanted to get back to Albert Lea, I’ve always been a part of winning programs and Albert Lea had that history.” Goodnature says, “I was very fortunate to learn from legendary (Albert Lea coaches) like Paul Ehrhard, Neal Skaar and Rummy Macias (Mankato State).”
Goodnature has been a wrestling coach for 42 years, 39 of those years at Albert Lea with 25 of those years serving as Head Coach. Larry’s Hutchinson High School teams won 3 Suburban West Conference Titles and at Albert Lea his teams captured 10 Big Nine Conference Titles. His Albert Lea teams have reached the State 7 times and the State Finals 4 times. He coached 142 state qualifiers with 71 as state placewinners. 8 of those were State Champions. For Coach Goodnature’s success as a coach he has been honored as Big Nine “Coach of the Year” 10 times, Section “Coach of the Year” 14 times and Minnesota Class AAA “Coach of the Year” 3 times in 2006, 2009 and 2015. He has accumulated an overall career coaching record of 546-166, which ranks him 11th All-Time among Minnesota Wrestling Coaches.
Another very important part of Goodnature’s coaching career that he is most proud of is that his teams won 8 State Class AAA Minnesota Academic State Championships. “We stressed academics first, then the sport of wrestling. Goodnature states: “If a student is disciplined in the classroom, they are going to be disciplined on the mat.”
Coach Larry Goodnature always put together a great coaching staff, from top to bottom, and many of those coaches in the Junior High and Elementary were Albert Lea grads. Larry says, “If you have good coaches in the junior high and elementary levels you will have success at the High School level. For a better part of Goodnature’s career at Albert Lea he had Jon Hansen, Bryan “Books” Paul, and Jack Kortan running the elementary and junior high programs. Goodnature’s high school staff had outstanding Albert Lea grads, “who lived and breathed Albert Lea Wrestling” helping him out in Neal Skaar, David Frame, Alex Skaar, Mark Inderlie, Brian Goodnature, Nate Goodnature, Brandon Klukow, Ryan Palmer, Mike Hansen, Josh Bain and Jon Lund.“He (Goodnature) had great organizational skills, things I didn’t have,” Skaar said. “He had a better ability to get people to work than I did. He was really great at building the boosters program and building on to the wrestling program. He was able to get so many good people involved,” says Skaar. “He had great organizational skills and he was always a very likeable guy and he had a lot of knowledge of wrestling,” says Skaar. “He was the kind of guy you wanted around.”
Outside of wrestling, Larry enjoys fishing and hunting. Now that he is retired he is able to take trips, such as to Canada two to three times a summer with friends and his wife and kids. He has traveled 3 times to Alaska with his wife Mary and friends Jack and Mona Eustice (Jack was a college teammate) to visit their friends Kurt and Marlene Kuehl (Kurt was another college teammate) on fishing trips to Ketchiken, Alaska and to a cabin on Prince of Whales Island. Larry also goes hunting for ducks, deer and pheasants, taking two trips a year to South Dakota. Other trips include motocycle trips, with wife Mary, out West to Utah, Montana, Colorado, Idaho, British Columbia and an annual trip to Mexico.
Larry and Mary have been married 45 years and raised 3 boys in Brian, Jake and Nate. All three boys were 3-sport athletes, with wrestling being their #1 sport. The Goodnature’s have 2 grandchildren with one on the way.
Congratulations to Coach Larry Goodnature on a much deserved honor and recognition of his outstanding wrestling career.
One of the most decorated coaches in Minnesota Wrestling History is Clay Nagel, out of Frazee, Minnesota. His highly successful programs at Frazee High School in the northwestern part of the state, along with his continued success as a college coach at Concordia College, certainly make him more than qualified for induction into the National; Wrestling Hall of Fame-Minnesota Chapter.
Born in Mandan, North Dakota, in 1957, Clay was a two-time State Wrestling Champion at New Salem High School (ND). He was also named to the 1977 Scholastic High School All-American team. In addition, Nagel was a North dakota Greco Roman “Juniors” Champion. He also excelled in football, being named to play in the annual North Dakota Shrine Football game.
Out of high school Clay first attended Bismarck Junior College where he was a two-time All-American. He went on to wrestle at North Dakota State for one season, then transferring to Dickinson State College. At Dickinson, he was an NAIA Region Champion in 1981.
As a wrestling coach, Nagel accumulated an impressive overall 511-129-2 dual meet coaching record, compiled with 5 years at Beach HS (ND) and 22 years at Frazee HS (MN). In total, Nagel’s high school teams produced 167 State qualifiers, 83 State Placewinners, 35 State Finalists and 20 State Champions. Seven of those wrestlers went on to become All-Americans in college. In his 17 years of coaching at Frazee HS his Hornets teams won three Minnesota State Championships and 13 team Section titles. Nagel’s Frazee teams placed 5th in State in 1989, second in 1991, Champions in 1992, 3rd in 1994, 3rd in 1995, 3rd in 1997, Champions in 1999, 2nd in 2000, 3rd in 2001, Co-Champions in 2002, 3rd in 2003 and 2004, 4th in 2015, 2nd in 2017 and 2nd in 2018. He was named Minnesota Class A “Coach of the Year” in 1999. He was also named Region “Coach of the Year” seven times and Sub-Section “Coach of the Year six times. in1999 he was elected President of the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association.
In addition to Clay’s high school coaching, he started a USA Regional Training Site in Frazee in 1975. Clay says one of his biggest honors was coaching with Dan Chandler,Ed Kane, Andre Harnitz and Dudley Flodeen in Freestyle and Greco Roman Wrestling.
From high school coaching, Nagel took on college coaching at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN for nine seasons. His career coaching total at Concordia was 79-35. He coached eleven NCAA All-Americans. His Concordia teams placed 5th, 6th and 2nd at the DIII National Duals. A highlight for him was his Cobber team defeating the powerhouse Augsburg College in a dual meet in 2010-11. The highest finish at the national tournament for his Concordia teams was 9th place. The highest finish in school history.
Clay says one of his greatest pleasures was coaching his sons, Travis and Matt. Travis was a 3-time State Placewinner, placed 3rd once and 2nd twice in high school. He went on to wrestle at Moorhead State and was a 4-year starter and 2-time All-American and was voted “Outstanding Wrestler” his Senior year. Matt was Minnesota’s first 5-Time State Champion. He went on to wrestle for the University of Minnesota and was a four year starter and a D1 All-American in 2003. He was also a 4-time Greco Roman Champion.
Clay also had the pleasure of coaching his daughter Kali in 6th grade softball. Kalli was also involved in Volleyball and was a State participant in Gymnastics.
Clay says his being raised on a Dairy farm with six siblings definitely taught him many good life lessons. Clay also says the influence of his brother Lee made him choose teaching and coaching as a profession. Lee is a member of the North Dakota Coaches Hall of Fame.for Wrestling and Tennis. Clay also credits all his fine assistant coaches he worked with at both the high school and college levels. His college coaches Ed Kringstad at Bisnmarck Junior College and Terry Burgess at Dickinson State were also great influences for him.
Lastly, but most important Clays says is the support he has had of his wife, Lori. A 44 year marriage with raising three kids, Lori always encouraged her husband to “keep believing.” And “she was right!”
Congratulations to an outstanding coach in Clay Nagel on his 2021 Induction into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame-Minnesota Chapter.
Charlie “Tuna” Peterson graduated from Owatonna High School in 1957. He attended the University of Minnesota and later graduated from Luther College, Decorah, IA. In 1961.
At Luther College, Charlie lettered in football, wrestling and golf. He was an NAIA national runner-up in wrestling in 1961.
Charlie began his teaching and wrestling coaching career at McKinley Junior High School in Cedar Rapids, IA. He then moved to Tracy, MN where he also taught Physical Education and was the Wrestling Coach. Following the Tracy coaching job, he moved to Wayzata, MN where he coached from 1967 to 1976. There he compiled an impressive 91-49-1 record for dual meets. In 1974, his Wayzata team placed second in the MSHSL “One Class” Minnesota State Tournament, with an undefeated dual meet record of 16-0-.
Charlie was on the original Minnesota State Tournament Committee for several years and recommended the first state high school dual meet tournament in the nation! Something that has grown in great interest and numbers ever since.
Throughout Charlies’ coaching career and later, he was very active in promoting high school wrestling in the state of Minnesota. He was inducted into the Dave Bartelma Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1974, the Luther College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1978, and the Owatonna High School Hall of Fame in 2002. In 1976, Charlie began a new career as a salesman with Josten’s and moved his family to Houston, Texas. In 1978 they moved to Madison, Wisconsin where he took a new sales job with Champion Products and sold athletic garments to high school athletic departments. In 1981, they relocated to Wayzata, MN.
One of Charlie’s great joys was time spent on the golf course. He was a prominent and active member of the Burl Oak Golf Course. He was involved in and promoted the First Tee Burl Cup. He was a recognized good golfer and played in many wrestling fund-raising tournaments.
Charlie was a fun-loving person who always had a smile on his face. He knew everyone by name and made people feel good when they talked to him. He married his childhood sweetheart and classmate, Marjorie Jane Austin in 1962.
Charlie passed away on Feb. 18, 2020 at the age of 80. Charlie is survived by his former wife, two daughters, Margaret Peterson (Tom Simington) and Jennifer Peterson (Peter Berridge) and three grandsons, Isaac, Brandon and Geremiah and his long-time companion, Pauline Fischer, who accompanied Charlie to many wrestling events.
Charlie Peterson will long be remembered with that BIG SMILE and the energy and excitement he always displayed at matside. He will also be known for building the foundation of a high school program with a good youth program.
The Minnesota Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame proudly honors the late Charlie Peterson with a well-deserved honor with his induction into the Hall of Fame. Charlie Peterson will always be remembered as one of the finest high school coaches in Minnesota Wrestling History. Congratulations to Charlie Peterson and family.
Bill Schmidt, son of Frederick and Alice, was born and raised on a farm southeast of Renville, Minnesota along with brother Rick and sisters Susan, Ellen, and Cathy. His dad passed away from leukemia when Bill was in eighth grade. While helping brother Rick on the farm, Bill participated in Football, Wrestling, and Baseball. Schmidt was a Football Captain and named MVP his Senior Season while also being voted Homecoming King.
Bill was a six-year starter in Wrestling and was never pinned throughout his High School career, even though he spent some time on his back as a seventh grader. Schmidt placed fifth at State as a Junior at 133# and as a Senior, Bill was a State Champ at 145# in the one-class system. Bill was the first Individual State Champion (in any sport) from the 212 Conference. Schmidt credits his High School Coach, Jim Phillips, along with team-mate Paul Olson as being responsible for the success he enjoyed in High School.
Bill attended Augsburg College majoring in Mathematics and had the privilege of wrestling for the legendary John Grygelko who may best be described as a character with character. Schmidt also sites Roger Gorham, who stayed on for three years as G’s loyal, capable, and trustworthy assistant, as being a positive influence and mentor to Bill both on and off the mat.
Bill was a three-time MIAC Conference Champion and a three-time NAIA All-American, placing 5th, 4th and 2nd at Nationals at 150#. Schmidt was unable to wrestle as a Senior at Augsburg due to a neck injury suffered while wrestling in Japan and Korea. Bill still served as an Auggie Wrestling Captain as a Senior and was voted Team MVP by his team-mates that final year.
After graduating from Augsburg, Schmidt was hired to teach Mathematics and coach Wrestling in Mosinee, Wisconsin. After two years in Mosinee, Bill and his wife, Jill, moved to Winona, Minnesota where Bill taught Mathematics and served as Head Wrestling Coach and Assistant Cross-Country Coach. With Schmidt at the helm, the wrestling program produced 24 State Qualifiers and 12 Place-winners along with one State Champ.
Schmidt had to confess that much of the success gleaned by the Winona Wrestlers was due to the influence of an outstanding assistant wrestling coach by the name of Jim Pappas. Jim was only in Winona for four years, but left a lasting impression on both the Football and Wrestling programs. Pappas was always there to advise, organize, and help carry out every duty that came down the pike. And not just during the season, but all year around. Another person who did a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes as well as picking up the slack whenever she was needed was Bill’s wife, Jill. She took over a multitude of duties, especially during the wrestling season. Jill was at every meet, home or away, with two little ones at her side. From compiling stats to helping organize and run the 16 team Winona Invite where she made all matches, filled out brackets, and kept team scores, somehow she got it all done. Pretty amazing that she was able to put forth that type of time and effort and still maintain her own career as a Realtor and raise two amazing kids.
It was a sincere thrill for Bill to watch his wrestlers compete at the next level. At one point, Augsburg had five Winona wrestlers in their starting line-up. He also took pride in seeing many of his former wrestlers go on to coach wrestling at various levels throughout the State.
After retiring from coaching wrestling at the varsity level, Schmidt served as Assistant MWCA Director under Bartelma Hall of Famer Roger Gorham for nine years before taking over as Director of the Coaches Association for the next eight years. Bill still serves as chair of the MR. Minnesota and Coach of the Year selection committees and assists Steve Ricard in putting on the MWCA Dave Bartelma Wrestling Hall of Fame Banquet. Bill has continued to coach youth wrestling as well as youth softball and baseball throughout the past thirty years. He has also been a proud member of the Winona High Football Chain Gang as well as the Winona State Chain Gang along with his wife Jill, son Sam, and daughter Sundra for the past 35 years. Bill and Jill were recently honored with the Ashley for the Arts Humanitarian Award for their many hours of volunteer work with the youth of the Winona Community.
Bill and Jill have been blessed to have both of their children and their families living within a stone’s throw of their home. Daughter Sundra teaches English and Spanish at Winona Senior High while her husband, Patrick, serves as a Park-Rec. Director in Winona. They have two children, Avrielle and August. Son Samuel, four houses down, teaches Mathematics at Winona State and his wife, Jessica, is a kindergarten teacher in the Winona District. They have three children – Sophie, Graham, and baby Lucy.
Terry Sworsky was born one of a set of identical twins in 1947 to Lee and Ed Sworsky, an English war bride and an Army Ranger who stormed Omaha Beach on D-Day. He started grade school in Columbia Heights and moved to Fridley in 4th grade, graduating as a proud Fridley Tiger in 1965.
Unlike today, where kids are introduced to wrestling before kindergarten, he did not start wrestling until eighth grade. His first year, he did not win a match or even score a point! Twin brother Tony had started wrestling a year earlier and insisted on showing him all the moves he was learning. Since basketball wasn’t really working out for Terry, he decided to join his brother on the wrestling team.
As a sophomore, he began his varsity high school wrestling career, placing fourth in Districts at 127 pounds even though he only weighed in at 118! As a junior he improved to first in Districts and fourth in Regions (53 teams), still at 127 pounds. As a senior, he moved up to the 138-pound weight class, placing first in Districts, and second in Regions, which qualified him for the state tournament. The highlight of his high school wrestling career was placing second in the 1965 one-class Minnesota State Wrestling Tournament as a senior under Fridley Head Coach Don Meyers. Besides wrestling, Sworsky also competed in baseball and football throughout junior and senior high school.
Sworsky was recruited to come to the University of Minnesota by Head Wrestling Coach Wally Johnson. He laughs as he remembers the “sweet deal” he was offered as a recruit when Coach Johnson took him to Coffman Union for a piece of cherry pie. That was the enticement in the 60s! Well, it was enough to lure the freshman athlete, and off he went to college at the University of Minnesota where he majored in biology and minored in chemistry and physical education.
As far as wrestling was concerned, there was no freshman eligibility at that time, so he would only have a three-year varsity career. However, early in his sophomore year, he broke his arm and was redshirted until the next season (1967- 68) when he started his three-year varsity wrestling career, graduating in 1970.
Sworsky began his teaching and coaching careers in the fall of 1970 at Columbia Heights High School where he taught biology and physical education and was the assistant wrestling coach (with Head Coach Al Ogdie) and head tennis coach for seven years.
In the fall of 1977, he accepted a position at St. Francis High School as a full-time science teacher and also became the head wrestling coach, taking over for Gene Yanke, who started the wrestling program at St. Francis in 1959. Sworsky also coached tennis during his tenure at SFHS. All told, Sworsky coached wrestling for 34 years and taught biology, chemistry, and physical education for 35 years before retiring in 2005. He also refereed high school and international style wrestling from 1967-1984, served as the Executive Secretary for the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association (MWCA) from 1982-87, and was the Region 7 representative numerous times.
From 1977 to 2004, Sworsky was the head varsity wrestling coach at St. Francis High School where he garnered a 303-127-7 overall record. During that time, there were 9 Conference Team Championships, 138 All-Conference wrestlers, 101 State entrants, 59 State place winners, and 9 State champions. Four teams qualified for the Minnesota State Wrestling Tournament: 1986 (5th place), 1992 (6th place), 1996 (5th place), and 1997 (3rd place).
Sworsky was honored as the 1986 Minnesota State AA Wrestling Coach of the Year, the first year he took a team to the state tournament. He was inducted into the MWCA Dave Bartelma Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1989 and into the St. Francis Hall of Fame in 2019.
In early 1983, Sworsky married Leslie Norman and they had two sons: Steve (born 1983) and Brian (born 1984). Leslie proved to be the St. Francis Saints’ wrestling team’s biggest fan and helped behind the scenes to make things run smoothly whether it be a dual meet, tournament, or banquet. He will always appreciate her unwavering support. Both Steve and Brian started wrestling before kindergarten and had successful high school careers. Steve taught middle school technology for ten years before moving on to a job in the tech field. Brian is teaching middle school math in the Mounds View school district. Both have coached at the middle school and high school levels and enjoyed working with kids and helping them improve.
Sworsky is a longtime resident of St. Francis, moving to the district at the time of his initial employment at SFHS in 1977.
There were many highlights in his career, but he felt especially privileged to have worked with so many young people in a variety of capacities whether they were wrestlers, managers, cheerleaders, students, or fans. His greatest thrill, he says, was to coach his two sons throughout their high school wrestling careers.
Sworsky has been an avid outdoorsman all his life. He loves fishing, hunting (deer, upland game birds, and especially turkeys), shooting sporting clays, volunteer coaching the St. Francis Trap and Skeet Club, and training his English Springer Spaniels for field trial competitions. He has trained and handled five dogs to Amateur Field Champion titles and also judges spaniel field trials throughout the country.
He is a voracious reader and also enjoys traveling the world with Leslie and spending time with their three grandchildren: Anika (7), Gerrit (5), and Grant (3).
James is a member of 5 Halls of fame for wrestling and has been known, predominantly for his wrestling history.
He was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1945, the third born of 5 children to a coal miner. He was raised during the time of segregation, remembers special water fountains and special seating in movie theaters, where he developed an early love of movies and imagination. He was in school when the freedom riders came through, he remembers having to leave school to run home to get a radio to bring back to class so that the teachers could hear what was going on. Even though he had moved by the time of the church bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, the neighbor boy from across the street from where he lived in Birmingham, of the Ware family, was killed that same day.
When his parents divorced at the age of 15, he moved to Minnesota with his mother, Mozel Tanniehill, and sisters, Diane and Vivian. It was here that he was introduced to wrestling. It was also a big culture shock for him because there was no segregation in Minnesota at the time. One of my favorite stories he tells from those days is when he first went in to the wrestling room, after trying his hand at several other sports, and thinking wrestling was “wrastling” like he would see on tv. So when the coach said, “get out there and let’s see what you have,” James started slamming kids and stomping on them, and behaving generally as a WWE wrestler when the coach had to stop him and knew at that moment he had some work to do. Coach Bergstedt said, “ it’s not that kind of wrestling, it is ‘scientific’ wrestling we do here.”
James took to wrestling right away. He has a special propensity for it and by his senior year, he was completely hooked. A small coal miner’s kid from Alabama, he never had any imaginings about any college or advanced studies beyond high school. However, by senior year, he was a conference, district and regional Champion and placed 3rd in the state. By this time he had met and was working with Coach Alan Rice of Minnesota Wrestling Club. He received a lot of offers to go to college and with encouragement from his coaches, he chose Winona State College. Coach Robert Gunner recruited him and sold him on that school by promising he would receive an education. He received his BA degree in Art, and his wresting accomplishments were amazing. He won 52 of 56 dual meets, 48 by pin. He was The first black NIC Champion for all 4 years. He was Midlands Champion, NAIA 4 time place winner, NCAA Division I- 2 time All American. His overall record was something like 115 wins and something like 13 losses. Coach Gunner was with him his first two and a half years, and then Coach Fran McCann took the helm. He still to this day uses their guidance and technique in his every day life. He helped to introduce Black History studies in Winona State and was the first black person to teach a class about African American artists and their contribution to the world of art. He got married and had 4 children.
After college, James couldn’t fathom the idea of being done with wrestling so he joined the Army! In the Army, he was known as Abdul Raheem Ali and he continued to accumulate accomplishments. He was a 9 time Inter Service Champion in both Freestyle (4 times) and Greco (5 times). He was also Silver Medalist in both Greco and Freestyle and 6 time National Champion all in the military. After the military, James returned to college, this time Graduate School at Indiana State, where his former coach Fran McCann offered him an assistant coaching position.
He continued to wrestle, even into his early 60’s. At the age of 63, James took second in the world at the World Championships in Martigny, Switzerland. James has been a coach for many of those years. He has coached at Indiana State with Coach Fran McCann, this is where he met and worked with Bruce Baumgartner, two time Olympic Champion. James was the first African American to coach wrestling at Terre Haute South High School in Terre Haute, Indiana, where he had 2 state Champions and the team placed second in the State. He ran Top Notch Wrestling Camps for a number of years where he has touched many lives. Most recently, he was Head Coach at Pike High School, then he formed a youth program for at risk youth in the inner city of Indianapolis with co-founder, Laura Rader, called Take Down Crime. He then went back to Pike High School as assistant Coach and is now heading up the youth program for Pike Township.
James is the first African American to win in four different weight classes on the Senior Greco level. He was the first African American to win 12 National Titles, He continues to highlight the history of wrestling to his youngsters in addition to the moves and techniques. He brings in history makers like Bobby Douglas, Butch Keaser, and Fran McCann. His heart beats wrestling and he loves to instill that passion into kids every day.
When your work is your passion you look forward to being a part of it every chance you get. That best describes what Steve Techam feels about wrestling. Steve’s passion for wrestling began when he wrestled for Hopkins High School in the 1960s under National Hall of Fame Coach Paul Bengston.
After high school graduation, Steve attended the University of Minnesota where he took part in the Intramural Wrestling Tournaments. Steve graduated from Bemidji State College in 1968 with a degree in Social Studies.
In 1969 Steve was hired by the Verndale School District to teach Junior High Social Studies. There was not a wrestling program at Verndale so Steve introduced wrestling to the Verndale athletic program, and remained the head coach of the Verndale Pirates until 1980. That year the Pirates paired with the Bertha-Hewitt Bears. The new consolidated wrestling team became the Bertha-Hewitt-Verndale Raiders. Techam remained in that coaching position until his retirement from coaching in 2007.
Techam returned to coach the Raiders for the 2013-2014 season, leading the team to the State Wrestling Tournament. He ended his coaching career with an impressive coaching record of 400-178-8.
As well as serving as a head coach, Steve was a Section 6A Coaches Representative to the Minnesota State High School League in 1990 untiL 2010. In 2000 Steve became the coordinator for the Section 6A wrestling tournament and remains in that position today. His role as the coordinator means he hires officials for the tournaments, answers coach’s questions and takes the coaches suggestions on how to run better tournaments to members of the section committee.
Throughout his coaching career, Steve has received many honors all due to the hard work of his assistant coaches and the young men and women who he coached. He was named Park Region Conference “Coach of the Year” in 1983,1984, 1985, 1987, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2007. Steve was named section 6A “Coach of the Year” in 1999, 2000 and 2001. In 2001, Steve was named State Class A “Coach of the Year” and his team ended up as State Runner-Ups at the State Meet. In 2002 Steve helped coach Minnesota high school wrestlers in the former Minnesota vs Wisconsin All-Star Wrestling Classic. Beginning in 2001, Steve also served as a chaperone to the Minnesota wrestlers traveling to Virginia Beach for the National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) tournament. In 2005 Steve was inducted into the Dave Bartelma-Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Steve states that his greatest honor was seeing the success of his wrestlers. Marshall Rach, Joeb Oyster, Casey Finck and Zach Lambert won State Championships. Steve Carlson went on to become a National Junior College National Champion. Jim Carlson, Bill Wagner, Joe Kern and Jake Oyster went on to be head wrestling coaches. The lasting relationships built between himself and his wrestlers has been one of his greatest rewards.
Outside of wrestling Steve has been active in the communities of Deer Creek and Wadena. Steve served on the Wadena-Deer Creek School Board, from 2008 to 2016, and served as the board chairperson. He is an active member of the Deer Creek Lions, receiving the “Melvin Jones Award.” He is active in his church and is a substitute teacher and bus driver at the Verndale School, driving the wrestling buses to their events.
Wrestling was and is not only part of Steve’s life, but also his families.. His wife of 53 years, Kathy served as a scorekeeper for the team. His daughter Lori also helped out with score keeping, and daughter Melissa (Lance Westerlund) was a wrestling cheerleader. Granddaughter Olivia was at a number of Grandpa’s wrestling matches, cheering him on.
Congratulations to 2021 National Wrestling Hall of Fame-Minnesota Chapter Honoree Steve Techam.
Ricky Ties grew up in Rochester Minnesota. He is one of seven siblings, six of them boys. Ricky, like most young boys, was energetic, rough, and in love with all different kinds of sports. Unlike the other kids, he was born with an eye disorder called retinitis pigmentosa. This vision disorder caused tunnel vision, night blindness, and the inability to see small details. Along with some other abnormalities.Because of this disability, even though Ricky did still play many sports, he found that the sport of wrestling was something that his vision did not limit his ability to succeed.
Ricky started wrestling in kindergarten, and by the time he was in 8th grade, he had already made the varsity team at Rochester Mayo High School. In his high school career he was a 5 X Letter Winner, 5x Section Medalist, 3x Big 9 All Conference Selection, Two-Time State Qualifier and placed 5th at State. He was selected Rochester-Mayo High School “Winter Male Athlete of the Year,” and a National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) All-American Honors.
After graduating in 2001, Ricky attended and wrestled at Rochester Technical & Community College (RCTC) for 2 years where he was a two-time National Qualifier and a Regional Champion. Ricky then transferred to the University of LaCrosse (UW-LaCrosse) where his wrestling career was cut short with multiple injuries, but he did graduate with a degree in Psychology.
Although his competition career was over, his coaching career was getting ready to start. Ricky came back to Rochester and became a volunteer wrestling coach at Mayo High School for two years. He then became the Head Assistant Coach at John Marshal High School for three years. Ricky then moved to Illinois and coached at Wheaton College for a year. During this time, Ricky decided that he wanted to start his own program, so he moved back to Rochester and started InnerDrive Wrestling, where over the course of eight years, he was able to work with hundreds of youth and high school wrestlers from Southeast Minnesota. During this same time period, he was coaching at RCTC, and received his Masters Degree in Sport Psychology.
In 2014 Ricky while running InnerDrive and coaching at RCTC, Ricky was made aware of Paralympic Judo for the visually impaired. Believing that his competition years were behind him, at age 32 years old, Ricky decided to try and learn a new sport, hoping that his wrestling background would help him accelerate his ability to learn. Ricky quickly worked his way on to t Team USA, winning multiple visually impaired national titles. Ricky has made multiple World teams along with medals at different old cups, grand prixs and at the Pan American Games and Championships. Ricky is currently living at the Olympic training Center in Colorado Springs and training to qualify for the Tokyo Paralympics.
What a great example for young athletes to follow their wants and dreams, never giving up even while others might say: “No way, this is not possible” Ricky Ties has achieved way beyond what one might think possible and is now a valued member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame-Minnesota Chapter. Congratulations to Mr. Ricky Ties!
Ken Vogt moved to Sauk Centre in 1961, at age 9, when his parents purchased a farm in the area. After attending country school, he started wrestling as an 8th grader, along with participating in football. In the next few years, Ken also joined the high school track and baseball teams.
After graduating in 1970, , he played football and wrestled..Ken enrolled at Willmar Community College to continue his education. While at WCC, he played football and wrestled. He amassed a career record of 50-6-1 and was a 1972 National Champion for the Warriors. Coach Roy Minter had a huge impact on Ken’s wrestling during those two years, as well as contributing to a lasting friendship between the two of them.
In 1972 Ken headed to Albuquerque, New Mexico, on an athletic scholarship, to attend classes at the University of New Mexico, and eventually earn a BS in Physical Education. He played football and was on the wrestling team. Ron Jacobson, his wrestling coach, was a supportive mentor.
Ken returned home in 1976 to take over the family farm. It was also the same year he started coaching the high school wrestling team in Sauk Centre. During his tenure, he worked extremely hard for his teams to come up with a record of 235 wins and 113 losses. There were numerous state entrants and state placewinners, including 9 state champions.
The “Mainstreeters” were known for being in great condition, strong leg riders and very physical. Central Minnesota knows Ken for being an intensive coach, but for keeping wrestling fun.
During Vogt’s coaching career, he was Director of several Section Tournaments and served as a Section Representative. During a two-year hiatus from coaching to watch his daughter compete in varsity Vogt serves on the Dave Bartelma-Minnesota wrestling Hall of Fame Selection Committee as well as the Sauk Centre Athletic Hall of Fame Committee. Ken is a member of the Sauk Centre High School Hall of Fame as an athlete and coach, the Ridgewater Community College Athletic Hall of Fame and the Dave Bartelma-Minnesota Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Away from wrestling, Ken is active in the Minnesota State Amateur Baseball Association, having served as the President of the Elrosa Baseball Club and as Manager of the Elrosa Saints Baseball team. For the last 12 years he has also been a Supervisor for Getty Township.
43 years ago Ken married his wife, Sally. Together they have raised 3 children in Aaron, Ann and Ethan. They have also been blessed with 6 grandchildren.
Vogt currently owns and operates a dairy farm with his two sons. Congratulations to Ken Vogt on his deserving induction into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame-Minnesota Chapter.
Jim Williams has been involved in the sport of wrestling in Minnesota for over 50 years. He graduated from Clarkfield High School in 1974. He was a two time District 11 and Region 3 champion. Under the coaching of Jim Phillips and Merv Hanson, Jim’s Clarkfield Cardinal wrestling team were regional runner-ups in 1973 and Champions in 1974, dethroning the Canby Lancers long string of championships. Jim entered the state tournament twice but did not place. His high school record was 78-12-3.
Jim attended college at Southwest State University (SMSU) where he wrestled and played football for Mike Sterner. Unfortunately, his college wrestling career ended sooner than expected with injuries his freshman and sophomore seasons.
Jim credits his passion and success within the sport to mentors (Jim Phillips, Merv Hanson, and Mike Sterner), assistant coaches (Gary Wolf, Todd Burlinghame, and Todd Johnson), teammates, and officials he’s worked with over the years (especially Jerry Reker, Ron Ackerman, Tim Schiels, Ed Homan, Brian Kelvington, and many more).
Jim has devoted the majority of his life as an educator, coach, and official. Jim taught elementary school in Clarkfield, primarily 2nd through 6th grade. He was the head coach of the Clarkfield Cardinal wrestling team from 1984 to 1988, achieving district 11 runner-ups twice. He had numerous state entrants, with at least 4 place winner (including 1 champion and 1 runnerup). From 1994 to 2005, Jim coached junior high wrestling for YME while his sons wrestled. Both of his sons were two-time state entrants, each of them reaching the state finals.
Jim left the coaching profession but continued his involvement in wrestling through officiating. His 40+ year officiating career began in 1975 and continues today. Jim officiates high school, NCAA, NJCAA, and NAIA events. He has officiated the MSHSL tournament for 23 years, where they have leveraged his experience and expertise to assess the performance of his peers during the tournament. He was recognized as one of the top NCAA assistant officials in the Big 10. He also volunteered his time by training new officials at clinics. He is well-known as one of the top officials within Minnesota as well. Jim retired from officiating after the 2020 season. In 2018, Jim was inducted into the MWCA Bartelma Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Jim and his wife of over 40 years, Pam, have also kept busy with 4 successful children: Sara, Mike, Laura, and Matt. As educators, they’ve enjoyed spending their summers at the cabin with their 11 grandchildren.
Congratulations to Jim Williams on his well-deserved 2021 induction into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame-Minnesota Chapter.
Read past National Wrestling Hall of Fame, Minnesota Chapter member bios at nwhof.org.