38th Hall of Fame Honors Weekend concludes with moving induction ceremony

By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling | June 22, 2014, 1:32 a.m. (ET)
The National Wrestling Hall of Fame Class of 2014: (back row, l to r) Jim Jordan, Eric Guerrero, Kerry McCoy, Dean Lahr, Colin Kilrain, Mickey Martin. (front row, l to r) Jerry Kuntz, Tim Johnson, Marina Doi, Chance Marsteller, Tom Norris. Photo by Larry Slater.

VIDEO PLAYLIST: Interviews with Hall of Fame Honorees

The 38th Honors Weekend for the National Wrestling Hall of Fame concluded with the induction ceremony at the OSU Student Union Ballroom in Stillwater, Okla. on Saturday night. The evening was capped by the induction of four new Distinguished Members.

Two of the new members were teammates on the 2004 U.S. Olympic Freestyle Team, which competed in Athens, Greece, Kerry McCoy and Eric Guerrero.

McCoy, a two-time Olympian, was a native of Longwood, N.Y., who won two NCAA titles for Penn State. McCoy won a World silver medal in freestyle in 2003. He is currently the head wrestling coach at the University of Maryland.

“I wanted to get better every day. I told people all the time, I am better than I was yesterday, but not as good as I will be tomorrow. That’s what I did with my wrestling career, that’s what I try to do with my life. If you can be a little better every day, when all is said and done, you will probably be alright. I also heard this from multiple sources. If you do something, just make it better than it was when you got there,” said McCoy.

Guerrero, a star from San Jose, Calif., won three NCAA titles for Oklahoma State. In addition to his Olympic appearance, Guerrero made three U.S. World Teams. He is associate head coach at Oklahoma State.

“I want to thank my parents. I can talk a lot about wrestling, and traveling to tournaments, but I am going to talk more about the blue-collar, working class attitude you instilled in us. Watching you get up and going to work, day after day after day with consistency. At this point in my life, I realize that was more important than any one wrestling move, any one tournament you could have taken me to. I want to thank you,” said Guerrero.

Dean Lahr, a two-time NCAA champion from Colorado, was the Outstanding Wrestler at the 1964 NCAA Championships. Lahr, a native of Denver, Colo., made two U.S. freestyle World Teams, placing fourth and fifth in the World.

“I’d like to give thanks to my father, who suggested I go out for wrestling instead of basketball when I was a sophomore in high school. I want to recognize my high school coach Joe Clune. Joe is 90 years old and has been in this business for a long, long time. My college coach is Linn Long. I have to thank him for changing my style, and teaching me how to win against guys who were a lot better than I was. There is also the person who recruited me to the University of Colorado, that is my wife of 52 years. She was the one who got me to go to the school where my coach was,” said Lahr.

Mickey Martin, a two-time NCAA champion for Oklahoma, was Outstanding Wrestler at the 1963 NCAA Championships, beating Bobby Douglas in the finals. Tulsa native Martin joined his father Wayne Martin as the only father-son combo to win NCAA Outstanding Wrestler titles. He coached at South Dakota State, then 25 years on the high school level.

“It means a lot to me to be inducted to where my father has been inducted. We are the only father-son who both won the NCAA OW award. This has lasted for a long time. But if Cael Sanderson has anything to say about it, it won’t last too much longer. I am very humbled, truly appreciative to be inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame,” said Martin.

The evening was a celebration of excellence in wrestling and in life, with a group of inductees who had a deep respect for each other and an appreciation of their collective achievements.

“I knew I was being inducted with a very august group of wrestlers. But, the people who have come before me on this podium have just blown me away. In light of what they have done, I feel totally inadequate. It is just amazing, as a total group, what has been accomplished by these people who are here tonight,” said Martin.

There were two Outstanding Americans inducted, both who were great college wrestlers who went on to amazing achievements in their careers.

Jim Jordan, the St. Paris, Ohio product who won two NCAA titles for Wisconsin, is serving in government. Jordan, a Republican, is now serving his third term as a U.S. Congressman representing Ohio’s 4th Congressional District. He previously served in Ohio’s General Assembly and also in its Senate.

Colin Kilrain, who hails from Braintree, Mass., was a three-time All-American for Lehigh. He became a Naval Special Warfare (NSW) SEAL officer and has had a distinguished military career. He currently serves as the assistant commanding officer at the Joint Special Operations Command in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, as a Rear Admiral.

The Medal of Courage went to a two-time ACC champion for the University of Maryland, Thomas Norris, who received the Congressional Medal of Honor for valor in Vietnam, serving as a Navy SEAL. He led a heroic rescue of two downed pilots. Norris was injured later while serving in Vietnam, losing site in one eye. In spite of the challenges, he served as an FBI special agent for 20 years.

The Order of Merit went to Tim Johnson, a native of Morning Sun, Iowa, who has become one of the top television announcers in wrestling. Johnson wrestled in college for Coe, became a successful high school coach in Mount Vernon, Iowa, and worked for USA Wrestling. He was Director of Wrestling at the 1984 Olympics. Johnson has broadcast over 300 wrestling events over the past 28 years, including the last 11 NCAA Championships. He helped found FCA Wrestling, a sport-specific ministry within the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

The Lifetime Achievement for Officials honor went to Oklahoma’s Jerry Kuntz, who is considered one of the best international referees in the nation. Kuntz, who wrestled for Central Oklahoma, was a top high school wrestling coach before turning his attention to officiating. He was officiated 98 national tournament and numerous international events, and also excels as a referee on the high school level.

The Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award went to four-time Pennsylvania state champion Chance Marsteller, who has won USA Wrestling Cadet National titles in both styles and competed at the FILA Cadet World Championships. Marsteller will attend Oklahoma State.

The newly created Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award was presented to two-time California state champion Marina Doi, who was won three medals for the United States at the FILA Cadet World Championships. Doi will compete on the 2014 U.S. Junior World Team and will attend King University in the fall.