Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Gone, Lost & Forgotten: Their best = Humboldt State

It's always a travesty when any school drops their wrestling program, but sometimes the ax hits down harder in some areas than it does others.  You have a state like California that produces thousands of high school wrestlers. They don't need less places to wrestle, they need more.  That's one thing that makes Humboldt State wrestling interesting.  If you look into their best wrestlers, they were all locals that wrestled for California high schools.  Add in the fact that Humboldt State was a powerhouse in wrestling; truth be it was often the Lumberjacks best sport & the elimination of the program makes absolutely no sense. 

In Division III the team finished in the top ten on six occasions, three of those times in the top four with a runner-up finish in 1977 & a third place finish in 1978.

When the Lumberjacks moved up to Division II, they finished fourth in the 1980, 1981 & 1984 NCAA championships. 

Even in their last season of wrestling 1990-1991, the Lumberjacks had two All Americans,  one of which was a National champion

I can't tell you how many Far Western Conference titles or how many Northern California Athletic Conference titles Humboldt State won, but I know it's a lot.   From what I have been able to gather, Humboldt State owned both of these conferences in the same way Iowa owned the BIG 10 during Dan Gable's tenure.

The NCAC stopped sponsoring wrestling & I know this along with budget cuts led to the end of Humboldt State wrestling.  From what I have been able to gather in my studies it was a beloved program that still garners bitterness from those a part of it when reminded of its departure.

Brent Wissenback
190 lbs
A graduate of Truckee High school, Wissenback won a NCAA Division III title for the Lumberjacks in 1975.

Eric Woolsey
190 lbs 
A graduate of Arcata high school, Woolsey spent his first two seasons of collegiate wrestling at The College of the Redwoods (another program we have sense lost).  While there, he took third at the 1975 CCCAA championships, winning a CCCAA title in 1976.  When he transferred to Humboldt State he won two NCAA Division III titles in 1977 & 1978.

Kris Henry
167 lbs 
A graduate of Cupertina High School, Kris Henry was a two time NCAA Division III All American for the Lumberjacks.  He placed fourth in 1976 & took runner-up honors in 1977.

Steve Tirapelle
150 lbs 
Steve Tirapelle, yes, THAT Steve Tirapelle head coach of Clovis High School that has won seven team titles, produced 109 state place-winners and 29 state champions.... The Same Steve Tirapelle who is the father of Adam, Alex & Troy who all had success wrestling for the University of Illinois.... That Steve Tirapelle wrestled at Humboldt State & was an All American in 1974 placing fifth.

Mike Fredenburg
142 lbs 
A graduate of Campbell high school Fredenburg made the NCAA Division III finals in 1979, winning a title in 1980.

Doug Stone
167 lbs 
A graduate of West Bakersfield High School, Stone finished in third place twice at NCAA's in 1972 & 1973.

Eric Lessley
142 lbs 
A graduate of San Marin high school, after finishing sixth at the NCAA Division II championships in 1984, Lessley felt that what he needed to win a title the next season was better conditioning.  He ran 11 miles a day & it paid off as he won the 1985 NCAA DII crown.  Post college he made the All Army team, practicing daily with Randy "The Natural" Couture.  He later became a wrestling coach and a C.P.A.

Luke Parham
If you gotta go out, go out with a bang & that's exactly what Cajon high school graduate Luke Parham did.  In the Lumberjacks final season on the mat, in the final match of the 1991 NCAA Division II championships, Parham won the title at HWT.


  1. Eric Woolsey wrestled at the College of the Redwoods, not the College of the Redlands. Did Richard Sykes wrestle a Humboldt too?

  2. Redlands was changed to Redwoods. I knew COR stood for something of that nature, but couldn't remember specifically when I saw COR.

    Sykes was 7th @ the 1980 DIII championships & 2nd @ the 1981 DII championships

  3. Please bring Humboldt State Wrestling back.