Friday, July 30, 2021

Defending The Title: 1965: Those Who Did and Those Who Didn't Defend The Title

Legendary Yojiro Uetake of Oklahoma State won title #2 of 3, as 1963 champion Jim Nance returned to win a second title after having to medical forfeit out of the 1964 NCAA's. 

1965 Champion 115
Tadaaki Hatta of Oklahoma State 

Son of Ichiro and brother of Masaaki, Tadaaki won back to back BIG 12 titles, winning the NCAA title here as a junior. He finished his senior season placing third at the NCAA tournament.  While we talk of wrestlers who went on to coach at various high schools and colleges, how about coaching different countries? Hatta coached Olympic teams competing for the United States, Japan and Mexico. 

1965 Champion 123
Mike Caruso of Lehigh 

One of the Mountain Hawk's best ever, the St. Benedictine prep (New Jersey) native won NCAA titles in 1965, 1966 and 1967. 

1965 Champion 137
Bill Stuart of Lehigh 

Starting off his career at Brown, Stuart transferred to Lehigh where he won the NCAA here as a junior.  He went on to place third at the 1966 NCAA championships.  He later became an Emergency Room physician at Saints Memorial Medical Center in Lowell, Massachusetts. 

1965 Champion 145 
Veryl Long of Iowa State 

Out of state wrestlers competing for Iowa schools  is a rather common occurrence these days but back in the sixties take away a handful from Minnesota and Illinois, it didn't happen often.  After serving two years in the Army, Long came to Ames all the way from Trinity High school in Pennsylvania where he was a state champion.  Finishing third at the 1963 and fourth at the 1964 championships, Long capped off his Cyclone career with an NCAA title here in 1965.  Post college he returned to the east coast coaching at Montclair State & Duquesne as well as Carrick High School. 

1965 Champion 157 
Bob Kopnisky of Maryland 

I had someone argue with me that Maryland didn't have a wrestling program until 2014.  Looks like they were wrong.  A three time ACC champion, Kopnisky placed fifth at the NCAA championships as a junior in 1964, before capping off his career as champion in 1965.  He then went on to coach at the University of Missouri from 1973 to 1986. 

1965 Champion 167
Greg Ruth of Oklahoma 

Ruth began his career at Lehigh, but transferred to Oklahoma where he won back to back NCAA titles for the Sooners in 1965 and 1966. 

1965 Champion 177 
Tom Peckham of Iowa State 

A three time state champion for Cresco High school, Peckham finished in fourth place at the 1964 NCAA's as a sophomore, winning back to back NCAA titles in 1965 and 1966.  He later finished one match shy of a medal at the 1968 Olympic Games. 

1965 Champion 191
Jack Brisco of Oklahoma State 

I have been under the impression for years that Jack Brisco won the NCAA title for Oklahoma State during his junior season.  Yet I think upon going back and re-researching the topic that he won the NCAA title as a senior.  He was NCAA runner-up in 1964, with no record of competing at either the BIG 12's or the NCAA's in 1966. So not sure if 65' was his senior year or if he was hurt/didn't wrestle for some reason in 66'.  Either way, he didn't repeat as champion.   What he did do however, is go on to an incredibly successful career in professional wrestling.  He held an assortment of titles, including tag team championships alongside brother Gerald. 


Uetake and Nance mentioned 

Hatta and Stuart did not repeat 

Caruso and Peckham did 

Long, Kopnisky, Ruth and I believe Brisco were all seniors. 

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