The IHSAA is proud to announce the 2023 honorees for induction into the IHSAA Wrestling Hall of Fame, IHSAA Officials Hall of Fame, and escort for the Grand March, to be recognized on February 18 before the state championship matches at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. 

Below is brief biographical information on each Hall of Fame selection and award winner. More information on IHSAA awards is available in the annual state tournament program, available for $5 at Wells Fargo Arena or through the IHSAA website and office.

YLI Victory in Life

IHSAA WRESTLING HALL OF FAME

 

WRESTLERS

AUSTIN BLYTHE, Williamsburg – Blythe was a rare four-time finalist and three-time champion at heavyweight, graduating in 2011 with a career record of 188-11. The three-sport star won 146 of his matches by fall – a state record at the time – and helped lead the Raiders to the State Dual Team Tournament in 2010 and 2011. He went on to play college football at the University of Iowa, starting 52 games over four seasons and earning All-Big Ten and third team All-American honors in 2015. He has been an NFL offensive lineman since, starting 72 games for the Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, and Seattle Seahawks. The son of Curt and Mary Blythe, Austin and his wife Kiley have three children: Reed, Callie, and Hayden.

 

JOHNNY GALLOWAY JR., Waterloo, East & Iowa City, City High – A three-time state champion (2000-02), Galloway didn’t lose a match to an Iowa-based wrestler in his final three varsity seasons. After winning at 145 as a sophomore at Waterloo East, he went to City High and his title runs at 152 and 160 led the Little Hawks to runner-up finishes in both the traditional and dual team tournaments. Galloway graduated with a varsity record of 154-8, four MVC and district titles, and was believed to be the first African American three-time champ since Paul Stinson (1963-65). He was named USA Wrestling first team All-American in 2002 and went on to compete at Lindenwood and then Northern Illinois, where he was a three-time NCAA tournament qualifier and MAC champ. Galloway has worked in community and correctional services, currently serving as a pre-trial conditional release agent in Minnesota, where he lives with his wife Leticia and sons Jakai and Johnny III.

 

COLE WELTER, Don Bosco, Gilbertville – Welter was the first Don Bosco wrestler to graduate with three state titles (2007, 2009-10) and helped lead the Dons to four titles in the traditional tournament and dual team tournament during his varsity career. He graduated with career record of 162-14 while also being a two-time all-state player in baseball. Welter went on to wrestle at Wartburg College, going 113-24 in four seasons and again winning four titles each in the NCAA Division III tournament and dual team events. He capped three national tournaments with the 2014 championship at 165 pounds. He returned to Don Bosco as an assistant coach in 2016. Welter works for Stryker Orthopaedics as a product specialist, traveling eastern Iowa hospitals and assisting surgeons and staffs with total joint replacement surgeries. The son of Rob and Jammi Welter now lives in Raymond with his wife Nicole and daughter Blake.

 

COACH

DARIN SCHRECK, Norwalk – A state qualifier at Des Moines East who went on to teach and coach at three schools – Carlisle (1995-2000), Eagle Grove (2000-06), Norwalk (2006-12) – to great success over 17 total seasons. Schreck’s teams won nine total conference titles, with at least three coming at each school. Eagle Grove qualified for the State Dual Team Tournament three times under Schreck’s leadership. In total, he coached 44 state qualifiers, 27 place-winners, and six state champions. His career dual team record was 287-67 before going into athletic administration, and he currently serves as athletic director at Carlisle. Darin and his wife Jill live in Norwalk and have three adult kids: Sarah, Rylie, and Nico.

 

GROUP

CRESCO HONOREES – Posthumous Hall of Fame honors are being given to four former Cresco standouts for their accomplishments. All four are prior selections to the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Bob Hess, 1928: A champion in 1927 and runner-up in 1928 helped establish Cresco’s program and clinch the team title in his senior season. Hess attended Iowa State University and won National Collegiate titles in 1932 and 1933. Passed in 1998.

Dale Hanson, 1935: A two-time champion at 85 pounds and 105 pounds in 1934 and 1935, Hanson went on to win the 1939 NCAA championship with the University of Minnesota and was unbeaten in three straight years of dual team competition. Hanson enlisted in the Air Force in his senior year, serving at Pearl Harbor in 1941 and Midway in 1942 before losing his life as a co-pilot in October 1942 near current Papua New Guinea.

Don Nichols, 1935: A state champ at 85 pounds in 1933 and 135 in 1935, the brother of Harold Nichols lost only one dual match as a varsity wrestler. Nichols went on to wrestle for legendary coach Cliff Keen at the University of Michigan, where he was a two-time Big Ten champion and 1940 national champion. Nichols was named outstanding wrestler of that tournament. Passed in 2007.

Gene Lybbert, 1948: A two-time runner-up as an individual and part of Cresco’s team title in 1948, Lybbert’s wrestling career peaked in college. He capped a run to three National AAU tournaments with an undefeated and NCAA title run in 1952 for Iowa State Teachers College. Passed in 2019.

IHSAA OFFICIALS HALL OF FAME

 

GREG BECKER, Waterloo: After a successful run as a wrestler at Don Bosco capped by the record-breaking 1979 team, Hall of Fame coach Bob Siddens encouraged Becker to give back to wrestling as an official. He started in 1980 and hasn’t stopped, officiating for 41 seasons with consistent postseason honors. Becker has officiated 26 state tournaments, including 18 state finals, and 14 state dual team tournaments. He also tallies 32 sectional tournaments, 28 district tournaments, 27 regional duals, and now three state girls’ wrestling tournaments. Becker was named state official of the year in 2009 and was part of the Grand March escort group from Don Bosco’s 1979 team. The son of Dick and Pat, Greg has four adult children – Brianna, Carissa, Brett, and Erica – and he and his partner Kristin live in Waterloo.

 

BRIAN GRAY, Winterset: The son of Hall of Fame official Rich Gray was an early state wrestling tournament attendee and even qualified twice for the tournament himself for Interstate 35. Gray started officiating during his freshman year of college and was mentored by his father and longtime official John Monroe during a rapid rise. He received postseason assignments in his fourth and fifth seasons, then officiated the state tournament at age 26. Gray is working his 24th state tournament 17th state finals this week, along with 12 state dual team tournaments. He was also honored by IWCOA as state official of the year this year. A co-founder of the Central Iowa Wrestling Officials Association and served as president for seven years. Gray lives in Winterset with his girlfriend Tiffany and son Cody.

CHAMPIONSHIP GRAND MARCH ESCORT

 

Brad Smith, Lisbon

The Iowa High School Athletic Association is honored to have coach Brad Smith, Iowa’s all-time dual meet wins leader and a 12-time state tournament team champion, lead the 2023 grand march ahead of Saturday night’s finals at Wells Fargo Arena.

Smith’s legendary coaching career has spanned 45 seasons at Lisbon and Iowa City, City High. The Illinois native holds numerous state records and cross 700 career dual meet victories this season, extending the top mark he set in 2020. Smith was a 2011 inductee to the IHSAA Wrestling Hall of Fame and has also received career honors from the Glen Brand Wrestling Hall of Fame and National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Smith was a two-time state champion at John Hersey in Arlington Heights, Illinois in 1971 and 1972. He then went to wrestle for coaches Gary Kurdelmeier and Dan Gable at the University of Iowa, competing on NCAA championship teams in 1975 and 1976. Smith won an NCAA title of his own at 142 pounds in 1976.

He dove into coaching, taking the head job at Lisbon in 1978. Smith led the Lions for 13 seasons, then went to City High in 1991 and spent the next 21 seasons there. Now 11 seasons into his second stint at Lisbon, Smith has coached 63 individual state champions, 304 state qualifiers, and 174 place-winners. His teams have also won seven dual team titles and claimed 18 total state runner-up trophies. A two-time Iowa coach of the year and two-time National coach of the year, Smith has spent over 20 years on the Iowa coaching staff for the junior national freestyle teams.

Smith and his wife Connie have three sons – Jacob, Cody, Colton – and six grandchildren.

The IHSAA sincerely appreciates Smith’s contributions to Iowa high school athletics and wrestling in our state. The grand march will begin following Hall of Fame and awards ceremonies on Saturday night, and lead all place-winners into Wells Fargo Arena ahead of the 42 state championship matches.

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