Sunday, September 13, 2020

Gone, Lost & Forgotten: Their Best = Concordia (Illinois)

 Located in River Forest, twenty minutes northwest of Chicago, the Cougars of Concordia had a wrestling program up through the 1995-1996 season. 

Jim Braun 

While Braun was a member of the Concordia wrestling team as well as the track & field team, it was in football that he really excelled.  A member of one of the most successful football teams in school history as a linebacker, Braun would go on to coach the team post graduation.  During his time as coach he was named the Illini-Badger conference coach of the year in 1983 & 1987.  He lead 17 of his players to All American status. 

Tom Concannon 

Concannon was a standout for the Cougars on both the gridiron and the wrestling mat.  As a football player he was named All American in 1988 & was voted the Illini-Badger Conference Defensive Back of the year in 1989.  During one game, he registered twenty tackles. 

As a wrestler he put together an impressive record of 93-32, earning NCAA Division I All American status his final season of 1990 with a seventh place finish. 

He went on to coach wrestling at Bloom Trail High school and later in life became head manager of Global Quality for Navistar Defense. 

Harry McGinnis 

A four time NAIA qualifier, Harry McGinnis won District & Northern Illinois Intercollegiate Conference (NIIC) titles going 90-32 during his career.  To help keep in shape for wrestling, McGinnis also ran cross country and track.  

Post his collegiate career, McGinnis took over as head coach at Triton Junior College.  He demanded as much out of his squad in the classroom as he did on the mat.  He produced 83 NJCAA qualifiers, 23 NJCAA All Americans & 58 NJCAA Academic-All Americans.  Winners of the 1997 NJCAA wrestling championship, his team averaged a 3.28 GPA. 

James Refenes

Refenes was a NAIA qualifier as a freshman in 1979 & would spend his final three seasons in NCAA Division III as the Cougars transitioned.  In his sophomore, junior & senior seasons Refenes would win the Midwest Regional championship.  As a senior in 1982, he took seventh place All American honors at the NCAA Division III championships. 

He later coached at Milwaukee Lutheran High school leading his team to the Wisconsin state title in 2000. 

Ronald Zernicke

An All American on the Football team, Zernicke put together an impressive 22-2 season on the mat in 1970.  

Post college he got into various sports medicine studies & was a consultant to the 1976 Olympic team.  He later became a professor at the University of Calgary in Canada. 

Brian Ryherd

A three sport athlete for the Cougars, Ryherd saw success in football, wrestling & in track & field.  As a football player, he played Center being named All-District in 1981 & 1982 & All Conference in 1982 & 1983.  In Track he was a NCAA Division III qualifier throwing the discuss. 

He later had a successful career in school administration as a teacher, principal & superintendent. He worked throughout various Lutheran schools in Texas, Illinois & Missouri. 

Bill Stevenson  

Stevenson put together a record of 85-29, with forty-one of his victories coming via fall.  Post his collegiate career he took over as head coach at Marist High School, where he lead his team to the state championship in 1983.  While there he also coached soccer, softball & basketball. 

As of recent, Stevenson was Deacon at the Harvest Bible Church. 

Bruce Tuomi

Tuomi made trips to the NAIA national tournament on three occasions, winning a NIIC title accumulating 78 victories, 34 of them by fall. 

He later took over as head coach of Lutheran East High school where he lead his team to fourteen consecutive conference titles. 

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