One of the unique features of Stillwater, Okla., is that it is the home to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum.
On the hall of fame’s brochure, it has the following message about wrestling, which is believed to be the world’s oldest sport.
“America’s shrine to the sport of wrestling, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum, is a focal point for preserving the heritage of the sport, celebrating new achievements and encouraging the youth of our land to aspire to lofty goals.”
When one walks into the tan-colored brick building that is adorned with hand-cut sculptures of wrestlers in various states of in-match interaction, singlets from various wrestling legends, such as Dan Gable, Bruce Baumgartner and Cliff Keen, greet them.
In total the landmark has a total of 15 separate rooms and sections that house plaques for other dignitaries, such as Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Donald Rumsfeld who were each partook in wrestling in some form. In other words, the company is elite.
However, the biggest reason for our visit to the hall of fame on Friday afternoon prior to the Mountaineers dual meet against No. 2 Oklahoma State was the opportunity to check out the impact that those affiliated with WVU have had on wrestling.
Just to name a few, here are some of the names associated with the Mountaineers that graced the walls and displays of the complex.
- Greg Jones (current associate head coach, three-time NCAA champion and one of the hall of fame’s key African-American members)
- Former assistant coaches Nate Carr and Zeke Jones (distinguished members of the hall of fame)
- Former NCAA champions Scott Collins, who was the program’s first NCAA champion in 1991, and Dean Morrison who was a champion in 1994
- Brandon Rader (2005 West Virginia Dave Schultz Award Winner and two-time NCAA All-American)
- Former Mountaineer heavyweight Brandon Williamson, who was a NJCAA champion in 2008
- Current WVU grappler Shane Young
for his impressive body of work during his high school career that saw him earn ASICS All-American Honorable Mention honors on two occasions
- Rick Tucci attended West Virginia, but his career was cut short due to injury. Following his career as an athlete, Tucci made an impact as an official, which saw him officiate four Olympic games, 17 world championships, countless junior college tournaments, 11 Florida state championships and over 5,000 high school matches
This was just a small sampling of some of the names that we saw, but as you can see, it is clear that the West Virginia University wrestling program is deeply engrained in the sports’ tradition.
For an even more in-depth look at the hall of fame, click here
for a photo gallery.