Friday, July 23, 2021

Defending the Title: 1957: Those Who Did and Those Who Didn't Defend the Title

 1957 quite a remarkable year as we crowned one of our most celebrated wrestlers in Danny Hodge winning his third and final title for Oklahoma.  Perhaps as should be, but isn't as celebrated, Ed Peery winning his third and final title for Pittsburgh.  Also noted, the NCAA tournament was held at Pittsburgh.

1957 Champion 115
Dick Delgado of Oklahoma 

Serving in the United States Navy before coming to college, Delgado came to Oklahoma from California.  As a sophomore in 1956 he finished third at the NCAA's, making the Olympic team later that summer.  Winning the NCAA title in 1957, he repeated again as champion in 1958. He later coached high school wrestling in both Kansas and California. 

1957 Champion 130
Johnny Johnston of Penn State 

Johnston was a junior when he captured the NCAA title for the Nittany Lions.  He would finish 3rd at the NCAA's as a senior.  He later coached at Princeton where he led the Tigers to their first EIWA title, winning 382 duals. 

1957 Champion 137 
Joe Gratto of Lehigh 

Gratto was a junior when he won the 1957 NCAA title, the next season of 1958 he finished one match shy of earning All American honors.  Keep in mind in these days, only the top four received a medal compared to the top eight today.  Gratto then served in the Marines during Vietnam, where he reached the rank of both Lieutenant and Colonel. 

1957 Champion 147
Simon Roberts of Iowa 

Competing for Davenport High School, Simon Robertts became the first black state champion in Iowa in 1954.  He then became the first black NCAA champion when he won the 1957 NCAA title as a junior.  He did not place at the 1958 NCAA's.  Later in life he became head coach of Alleman High School in Rock Island, Illinois, devoting a majority of his life to helping the community against drug and alcohol abuse. 

1957 Champion 157 
Doug Blubaugh of Oklahoma State 

A native of Ponca City, Blubaugh settled for 3rd place in 1955 and 2nd place in 1956 before winning the NCAA title in 1957.  He later took his skills to international wrestling, earning gold medals at both the 1959 Pan American Championships and the 1960 Olympics.  He later coached at both Indiana and Michigan State. As the story goes, Bobby Knight once shouted at Blubaugh and a few moments later found himself in agreement that he would never shout at Blubaugh again. 

1957 Champion 167 
Tom Alberts of Pittsburgh 

A two time state champion out of Waynesburg high school, Alberts was senior when he captured the NCAA title for the Panthers.  He later became an assistant coach at Trinity high school while running his own dental practice. 

1957 Champion 191 
Ron Schirf of Pittsburgh 

In the year his high school started their wrestling program, Schirf went out for the team and by the end of the season he had wrestled quite a few matches and managed to win one.  It was a rough start for the future NCAA champion as he arrived at Pittsburgh finding himself the worst wrestler on the team.  Not only could he not beat anyone in the room, he couldn't do anything at all.  Couldn't score a takedown, couldn't ride anyone, he couldn't even manage to get an escape.  Sticking with it, by the time he was a senior in 1957, he found himself on top of the award stand at the NCAA's. 

1957 Champion UNL 
Bob Norman of Illinois 

Norman came to Illinois to play football for the Illini, not to wrestle. Yet after an injury in his sophomore season, he switched over to wrestling.  Winning his first NCAA title in 1957, he won his second in 1958.  Going 21-0, 14 of his victories were by fall.  His son Tim played football for the Illini and his grandson Jake wrestled for the Illini. 


Peery and Hodge previously mentioned won their third titles 

Delgado and Norman would go on to win titles in 1958 

Johnston, Gratto, Roberts did not 

Alberts, Blubaugh and Schirf seniors 



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