Saturday, July 3, 2021

Defending the Title: 1937: Who Did and Who Didn't Defend Their Title

 With exception to of course 1928, 1937 marked an important year in NCAA wrestling history as it was the first tournament in nine years where a returning NCAA champion didn't win a national title. That's right in 1937 all eight champions that night were crowned champion for the first time. 

1937 Champion 118
Joe McDaniel of Oklahoma State 

Another Cowboy legend, McDaniel was only a sophomore when he captured his first of what would eventually be three NCAA titles. He went on to win two more in 1938 and 1939.  Post his phenomenal collegiate career, he turned his attention towards coaching.  Along with coaching at the high school level, he also took the helm at both Syracuse and Wyoming. Altogether he lead his teams to over 250 victories. 

1937 Champion 126
Dale Brand of Cornell (IA) 

A Fort Dodge native, Dale Brand showed the huge perennial powerhouses of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State that a small town kid from a small college in Mount Vernon, Iowa could hang with the big boys. He was a junior the night he won an NCAA title.  He'd return in 1938 this time to take runner up honors.  Post college, he coached at Clarion high school where he led twenty-four different young men to individual state titles. 

1937 Champion 135
Ray Cheney of Northern Iowa 

Although Greene High school would eventually produce talent like Hawkeye All American Tyler Nixt, at the time Cheney attended they didn't have a wrestling program.  He didn't start wrestling until his freshman year at Northern Iowa.  Despite the lack of experience, he caught on quickly and a few years later as a senior became the Panthers first NCAA champion.  He'd later go on to introduce wrestling to Troy High School in Ohio. 

1937 Champion  145
Stan Henson of Oklahoma State 

We all know the legend of Stan Henson and it began here in 1937 as the young sophomore captured his first of what would eventually be three titles. 

1937 Champion 155
Bill Keas of Oklahoma 

If you look up the loss record of Stan Henson, you'll notice that it is relatively small. Keas was one of the only men to ever hand the Cowboy legend a loss.  A legend in his own right, Keas won the NCAA title as a senior, having finished second in 1936. 

1937 Champion 165
Harvey Base of Oklahoma State 

Base was a senior when he won the NCAA title for the Cowboys. 

1937 Champion 175
John Whitaker of Minnesota 

Today Golden Gopher wrestlers look bean, mean, scary and unusually muscular.  I guess nothing was different nearly 85 years ago.  Whitaker looks big, mean and scary with massive shoulders and an impressive back.  He was a senior when he won the NCAA title. 

1937 Champion UNL 
Lloyd Rogers of Oklahoma State 

A native of Stillwater, Rogers brought two high school state titles with him when he stayed right in his home town to compete for Oklahoma State.  He was a senior when he won the NCAA title. 


McDaniel would repeat twice more as champion as would Henson 

Brand would settle for second in 1938 

Cheney, Keas, Base, Whitaker and Ricks were all seniors 


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