Sunday, July 18, 2021

Defending The Title: 1953: Those Who Did and Those Who Didn't Defend The Title

 It was title #2 of 3 for Pittsburgh's Hugh Perry as the other 9 champions crowned at Penn State that night in 1953 all tasted gold for the first time. 

1953 Champion 123 
Dick Mueller of Minnesota 

A three time state champion for Anoka High School, Mueller won the NCAA title here as a sophomore.  he then took off to serve in the military returning to Minnesota for the 1956-1957 season.  There he took third place All American honors at the NCAA tournament. Again a participant in 1958, he failed to place. 

1953 Champion 130 
Norvard "Snip" Nalan of Michigan 

Yet another to add to the list of NCAA champions who never won a state title.  Snip Nalan was a two time Iowa high school state runner-up for Mason City high school.  During his illustrious collegiate career, Nalan won three BIG 10 titles, winning NCAA titles here in 1953 & again in 1954.  When he won his second title, he also took home the Gorriaran award for the most amount of falls in the least amount of time.  He later coached at both the high school and college level.  An assistant at Drake, he coached Grand Rapids High School in Michigan to over 200 dual meet victories. 

1953 Champion 137
Len "Gus" DeAugustino of Lock Haven 

Having participated in the 1951 & 1952 NCAA Championships, DeAugustino had yet to place.  He'd only bring home one medal from the tournament and the one medal he brought home, just so happened to be gold.  An Olympian in 1952, DeAustino continued to find success in wrestling, this time as a coach. At North Allegheny, his team won 380 duals as he crowned 21 state champions. 

1953 Champion 147 
Frank Bettuci of Cornell (NY) 

Also a member of the Big Red Football and Golf teams, Betucci was a senior when he won the 1953 NCAA title. Along with this accomplishment he also won three EIWA titles and made the Olympic team in 1956. 

1953 Champion 157 
Jim Harmon of Northern Iowa 

A graduate of Waterloo West, Harmon makes yet another NCAA champion that never won a state title. The best he ever did for Waterloo West was a runner-up finish.  Taking second at the NCAA championships as a sophomore in 1952, Harmon won the NCAA title here in 1953 as a junior.  He then opted out of his senior season, deciding to instead go into the Navy where he eventually won a silver star. 

1953 Champion 167 
Don Dickason of Cornell (NY) 

Dickason came all the way from Champaign, Illinois to wrestle and play football for the Big Red. He was a senior when he won the NCAA title here in 1953. 

1953 Champion 177 
Ned Blass of Oklahoma State

A native of Ponca City, Blass won a title for the Cowboys as a senior here in 1953. After a short stint as an assistant at Oklahoma State, Blass turned his attention to coaching at the high school level. He coached many successful teams throughout Oklahoma and California. One of his pupils was future Minnesota head wrestling coach J Robinson. 

1953 Champion 191 
Hud Samson of Penn State 

The final match of your career, you win a NCAA title, which helps your team win the NCAA team title and you do it in front of a home crowd audience. Does it get any better than that? That's exactly what Hud Samson, who was also a member of the Nittany Lion golf team did. 

1953 Champion UNL
Dan McNair of Auburn 

You can search high and you can search low but trying to find outstanding wrestlers from southern teams back in the 1950's is extremely difficult. Trying to find one that is actually from the south, near impossible. Yet here is one.  Dan McNair of Auburn, a native of New Orleans, Louisiana. McNair started wrestling his junior year of high school, where he didn't even win a single match.  He learned quickly as he captured the NCAA title his senior season of college here in 1953. 


With Peery repeating here and again in 1954 that leaves us with...

Nalan repeating again in 1954

Mueller and Harmon not repeating

DeAugustino, Bettuci, Dickason, Blass, Samson and McNair all being seniors. 

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