NDSU Athletics Mourns the Passing of Wrestling Signee Damian Mendez

FARGO, N.D. – On Tuesday, the North Dakota State Wrestling program and head coach Roger Kish announced the passing of incoming freshman Damian Mendez over the weekend.

“It is with sincere sorrow that we have to announce the loss of one of our Bison family members, as we learned of the tragic passing of Damian over the weekend,” said Kish.

Mendez signed with the Bison in March of 2022. He was set to join the Bison this fall and was intending to major in Sport Management at NDSU.

Continue reading →

Gerry Bakke 1950-2021

Hall of Famer Gerry Bakke passed away on September 25, 2021. He was 71 years old. A native of Albert Lea, Minn., Bakke was a long-time coach at Buffalo High School in Buffalo, Minn. He was inducted into the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association Dave Bartelma Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Minnesota Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 20218.

Continue reading →

Al DeLeon 1938-2020

Hall of Famer Al DeLeon passed away on December 16th. He was 82 years old. A three-time state champion for Blue Earth High School and a two-time All-American for Mankato State, DeLeon was inducted into the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association Dave Bartelma Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2006. He went on to coach wrestling at Britt High School in Iowa. DeLeon is a member of the Iowa High School Wrestling Hall of Fame, the Mankato State University Hall of Fame, and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame with a Lifetime Service Award.

Continue reading →

Augsburg coaching legend John Grygelko passes away

MINNEAPOLIS — John Grygelko, who played a key role in establishing the Augsburg University men’s wrestling team as a small-college national power, died on Friday, December 18, 2020. He was 93 years old.

Grygelko coached the Auggies during a key period of the program’s growth, from 1972 to 1980. His teams never finished lower than second in Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference competition, winning six straight league titles from 1975 to 1980. Grygelko coached 32 MIAC individual champions, including three conference tournament most valuable wrestlers. He produced a 98-12-1 dual-meet record in his Augsburg career, including two unbeaten seasons (11-0 in 1976-77, 12-0 in 1978-79).

Under Grygelko, the Auggies finished in the top 10 in NAIA national competition four times, including a second-place finish in 1975 and a third-place finish in 1979. He coached 18 NAIA All-Americans during his Augsburg years, including national champions Scott Whirley ’82 (126 pounds) and Jeff Swenson ’79 (167 pounds) in 1979. Grygelko was named NAIA National Coach of the Year in 1975.

“We hold John and his family in our hearts as we mourn his loss. ‘G’ was much more than a coach to so many of us. ‘G’ was a father figure who guided the lives of hundreds of young men, and for many of us, helped mold us into the men we are today. He was instrumental in bringing Augsburg’s wrestling program to national prominence,” said Swenson, who succeeded Grygelko as Augsburg’s head coach in 1980 and led the Auggies to 10 NCAA Division III national championships in his 25 seasons (1980-84, 1986-2007). Swenson currently serves as Augsburg’s athletic director. Continue reading at athletics.augsburg.edu →

DeWaine Silker 1929-2020

Hall of Famer DeWaine Silker passed away on November 4th. He was 91 years old. A native of Rochester, Minn., Silker was inducted into the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association Dave Bartelma Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1988, the Minnesota Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2004, and the Mayo Civic Center Region I Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2007.

Continue reading →