Monday, July 19, 2021

Defending the Title: 1954: Those Who Did And Those Who Did Not Defend Their Title

 Pittsburgh's Hugh Peery wins his third national title as Michigan's Norvard Nalan, and Oklahoma State's Ned Blass repeat as champions from 1953.  Tommy Evans of Oklahoma who won an NCAA title in 1952 as a sophomore, comes back after being injured in 1953 to win his second title as a senior.  Gene Nicks of Oklahoma State, champion in 1952, runner-up in 1953, also returns to win his second title. 

1954 Champion 123
Dick Govig of Iowa 

A two time state champion out of Britt, Govig began his career at Iowa injured missing out on most of his sophomore season of 1953.  He came back strong as a junior in 1954, winning the NCAA title. He'd once again make the NCAA quarterfinals as a senior in 1955, but fail to place. 

1954 Champion 137 
Myron Roderick of Oklahoma State 

The legendary Myron Roderick, who would later take over as head coach of Oklahoma State, where he led the Cowboys to 13 BIG 12 titles and 7 NCAA titles accumulating 140 dual victories against only 10 losses, came to Stillwater from Winfield High School in Kansas where he won two state titles.  A three time NCAA champion who would repeat again in 1955 and 1956, he was also the Cowboys men's tennis coach.  He led that program to 105 victories against 23 losses, racking up 6 BIG 12 titles. 

1954 Champion 157
Bob Hoke of Michigan State

After finishing as the 1953 NCAA runner-up as a junior, Hoke won an NCAA title for the Spartans as a senior here in 1954.  A two time BIG 10 champion with a zoology degree, Hoke would then dedicate the rest of his life to the United States Navy. 

1954 Champion 167
Joe Solomon of Pittsburgh 

Solomon was a junior when he won the NCAA title for the Panthers.  As a senior in 1955 he would finish in 4th place.  

1954 Champion 191
Pete Blair of Navy 

If you're looking for inspiration, you'll find it in Pete Blair. We talk about NCAA champions that never won state titles. We talk about NCAA champions who never made the state finals. We talk about NCAA champions that never placed at state. We talk about NCAA champions who never qualified for state.  Now, how many NCAA champions can you name that never cracked the varsity line up during high school?   

Three years of junior varsity wrestling at Granby high school, Pete Blair walked on to the Navy wrestling team.  Determination and hard work, he went undefeated in his last two seasons winning back to back EIWA and back to back NCAA titles in 1954 and 1955.  57 victories and 31 of them were by fall.  If that isn't impressive enough for a guy that never wrestled varsity in high school, also take into account that he won a bronze medal at the 1956 Olympics.

Blair would spend the rest of his life in the Navy before sadly succumbing to cancer. 


Peery, Nalan, Evans, Blass & Nicks already mentioned. 

Govig and Solomon would not repeat as champions in 1955

Hoke was a senior 

Roderick would win title #2 of 3 in 1955

Blair would win title #2 in 1955 

1 comment:

  1. Wrestling and boxing foundation for a lifetime! The brain is a terrible thing to waste!