Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Down Goes the #1! - Part 4

 After taking a hiatus in order to add 35 new reports on discontinued wrestling programs to my project, "Gone, Lost & Forgotten" my series "Down Goes the #1" is back! This time to concentrate on the latter half of the 1960's. A look at all of the times at the NCAA tournament when the #1 seed went down before the finals. 

1966 115 - #4 Rick Sanders Portland State Upsets #1 Tadaaki Hatta Oklahoma State F 5:31 in SF

When looking at the overall embodiment of Rick Sanders wrestling career, it is hard to believe that he was ever the underdog, but it was the case at the 1966 NCAA championships. Having taken 3rd at the NAIA championships, Sanders dropped down a weight class to win the NCAA title, pinning 1965 champion Tadaaki Hatta of Oklahoma State along the way.  Hatta came back to finish 3rd. Before meeting a premature end in a hitch hiking accident, Sanders became a 7 time All American, with 5 of those medals cloaked in gold. Internationally successful as well, Sanders was a two time Olympic Gold medalist. Among all of his accolades, perhaps what sticks out best is a 6-0 shutout of Dan Gable at the 1968 Olympic trials. Hatta who went on to coaching success, came from Japan where his father Ichiro was instrumental in Japan's international success in wrestling. 

1966 137 - #4 Mike Sager Oklahoma Upsets #1 Bill Stuart Lehigh 1-1, 3-1 SV in SF

While more common today, it was a rarity some 56 years ago for two former NCAA champions to meet at the NCAA tournament. Mike Sager of Oklahoma had won a NCAA title as a sophomore in 1964 (finished 5th in 1965) & Bill Stuart of Lehigh had won an NCAA title as a junior in 1965. This meeting would belong to the Sooner. After his hard fought victory, Sager would end up finishing 2nd in his final NCAA tournament as Stuart worked his way back up to 3rd.  Post their remarkable collegiate careers, Stuart turned his attention to the medical field becoming a doctor. Sager went into coaching, taking the reigns at three different collegiate programs including Marshall, Cincinnati and Colorado. 

1966 145 - U.S. Bill Blacksmith Lock Haven upsets #1 Jim Rogers Oklahoma State 5-0 in QF

Not even winning his second NAIA title was enough for the the seeding committee to give Bill Blacksmith of Lock Haven a seed, but no bother, he was more than happy to show how tough both he and NAIA wrestling could be.  In total control he shutout #1 seed Jim Rogers of Oklahoma State 5-0 in route to ending his collegiate career as an NCAA champion. Post his career the Cedar Hill high school graduate went on to coach at Indiana of Pennsylvania, as he was also heavily involved in the Presbyterian Church. Rogers a junior at the time, was 5th as a sophomore. He would finish 4th both at this tournament and again in 1967. Post his collegiate career he went to Central Oklahoma, a school that had dropped its wrestling program. He decided to revive it. In a matter of no time not only was Bronco wrestling revived, it thrived. Today Central Oklahoma still remains one of the top NCAA Division II teams in the country. 

1966 167  - #4 Dave Reinbolt Ohio State Upsets #1 Jon Rushatz Lehigh F 8:48 in Semi-Finals 

Despite being an outstanding wrestler, Jon Rushatz's real love of athletics was the game of football. A running back on the Mountain Hawk football team, he entered the 1966 NCAA championships his sophomore season slated to win the NCAA title. He would be stopped in the semi-finals by Dave Reinbolt of Ohio State, a Toledo Central graduate. Reinbolt finished as the NCAA runner-up as Rushatz took 3rd. Unfortunately injuries on the gridiron would take their toll on Rushatz preventing him from achieving more success on the NCAA level. 

1967 130 - U.S. David McGuire Oklahoma Upsets #1 Joe Peritore Lehigh 4-2 in R2 

Had it not been for an Iowa State grappler by the name of Dan Gable, David McGuire may have won three NCAA titles for the Sooners. Winning two, he won his first in 1967 as an unseeded sophomore, upsetting #1 Joe Peritore of Lehigh 4-2 in round two. Peritore came back to finish 3rd. As McGuire finished up with a runner-up honor in 1968, winning a second title in 1969, fittingly enough Peritore became an engineer post college. Heavily involved in the Presbyterian Church, he donated much of his life towards improving the lives of those in Honduras. 

1967 137 - U.S. Masaru Yatabe Portland State Upsets #1 Gene Davis Oklahoma State 1-1, 0-0 R.D. in Semi-Finals 

It absolutely astounds me as much as we love talking about great wrestlers from around the world throughout the long & illustrious history of amateur wrestling that we don't get more love & recognition towards the Japanese. The small island has produced a number of outstanding talents, among them, former Portland State Viking standout Masaru Yatabe. A 6 time All American in all, he was 3rd in the NAIA in 1966, capturing 5th place at the NCAA tournament.  Winning an NCAA Division II title in 1967, he would finish in 2nd place after his epic upset over Davis. He would do the exact same thing as a senior in 1968, again winning a DII title while finishing runner-up at DI's.  Davis a legend in his own right came to Oklahoma State after winning four Montana high school state titles.  He'd finish in 4th place as a sophomore in 1965, winning a national title in 1966, coming back to a 3rd place finish here in 1967. 10 years post graduation, Davis would bring home a bronze medal from the 1976 Olympic Games. 

1967 145 - U.S. Mike Gluck Wisconsin Upsets #1 Jim Rogers Oklahoma State 7-5 in R1

As luck would have it, Jim Rogers of Oklahoma State would again be the victim of a huge upset, this time at the hands of Badger Mike Gluck who upended the Cowboy 7-5 in the first round.  Gluck a two time Illinois state finalist for Palatine High school, would finish as the NCAA runner-up as Rogers worked his way back to a 4th place finish. 

1967 UNL - #8 Nick Carollo Adams State Upsets #1 Dave Porter of Michigan 5-4 in QF

Another case for the NAIA, Nick Carollo of Rendono Beach, California won two CCCAA titles in 1965 & 1966 for El Camino College before deciding to continue his wrestling career at Adams State.  Winning a NAIA title in 1967, he entered the NCAA championships the #8 seed. His 5-4 victory over Dave Porter the 1966 NCAA champion, marked one of only three losses the Wolverine ever took. Carollo went on to win another NAIA title in 1968 along with an NCAA title, capturing PAN AMERICAN gold in 1971. Porter who was a junior at the time, went on to capture title #2 in 1968, finishing off his career with 51 victories, 32 of them by fall.  Also a standout on the football team, Porter had 46 career tackles for the Wolverines, earning himself a draft pick with the Cleveland Browns. Unfortunately an injury kept Porter from ever playing a down of professional football. He went on to a successful career in teaching and coaching. 

1968 145 - U.S. Phil Frey Oregon State Upsets #1 Don Henderson Air Force 6-3 in R2 

Don Henderson made history in 1967 becoming the Falcon's first NCAA champion. The three time MIWA champion looked poised to win a second title in 1968, but was stopped dead in his tracks by Oregon State's Phil Frey 6-3. Neither wrestler would place that season as Frey ended his senior year of 1969 with a 4th place finish. To this day Air Force continues to hand out an award in Henderson's honor. Frey went on to coach and run thrift stores. 

1968 177 - #4 Bob Justice Colorado upsets #1 Fred Fozzard Oklahoma State 4-0

Due to the discontinuation of wrestling at Colorado, we've been deprived of how many more Buffalos could have been legends in our sport, but we do know for sure that Bob Justice is one of them. Having lost the BIG 12 title to the tournament's outstanding wrestler Fred Fozzard of Oklahoma State, 5-1, it didn't seem likely that Justice would win their rematch in the NCAA semi-finals. the fact that Fozzard had thus far finished 2nd & 1st the past two seasons didn't put the odds in his favor either. Yet when they stepped on the mat, it was all Justice in a controlled 4-0 decision. Fozzard came back strong to a 3rd place finish. Unfortunately Justice's senior season of 1969 ended prematurely when he was hurt in the BIG 12 finals. Ironically enough, Fozzard earned World Gold that year, then turning his attention towards coaching. He headed the Kansas State program. 

1968 191 - #5 Tom Kline Cal Poly upsets #1 Rich Lorenzo Penn State 2-1 in Semi-Finals 

Winning an NCAA Division II title, Cal Poly's Tom Kline entered the 1968 NCAA's as the #5 seed meeting #1 Rich Lorenzo of Penn State in the semi-finals. Kline would win a tight 2-1 decision, eventually finishing as the NCAA runner-up as Lorenzo, a New Jersey native came back to finish 4th. The next season as a senior Kline again won the NCAA Division II title, this time adding a NCAA Division I title to his resume. Both Kline & Lorenzo dedicated their lives to youth post college. Kline was heavily involved in the Boys & Girls Club as Lorenzo was heavily involved in FFA (Future Farmers of America.) 

1969 115 - #4 Sergio Gonzales UCLA Upsets #1 Terry Hall Cal Poly 3-3, 1-1, R.D. in Semi-Finals

Bryan Adams sings about the summer of 1969, but it was the winter of 1969 that gave us the treat of two Californians from two California schools going head to head as UCLA's Sergio Gonzales and Cal Poly's Terry Hall met in the semi-finals. Gonzales had already defied the odds once in his career, as in 1968 he had upset his way into the finals by upsetting the #2 seed. This time he would do it again on a referee's decision, this time against the #1 seed. He once again finished in 2nd place. Continuing his wrestling career post college, Gonzales won a PAN-AMERICAN gold medal in 1971. 

Hall's story is every bit as interesting. Growing up poor in the ghetto, wrestling gave Hall opportunities that he otherwise wouldn't have had. Enrolling at San Bernardino Valley  College, Hall won back to back CCCAA titles in 1967 & 1968 earning himself a scholarship to Cal Poly. Already a married man & a father of two, Hall won the NCAA Division II title in 1969, coming back to a strong 3rd place finish at the DI tournament after being upset by Gonzales. Hall would win another NCAA DII title in 1970, but fail to place at the NCAA DI tournament as the #3 seed. 

1969 152 - U.S. James Tanniehill Winona State Upsets #1 Len Borchers Stanford 5-3 in R2

Making history in 1967 (along with teammate Terry Crenshaw) by becoming Stanford's first NCAA participant as well as All American with a 4th place finish, Borchers was always able to dominate throughout the season, but never could quite make it happen again at the NCAA's. Earning a #2 seed as a junior in 1968, he did not place, nor did he place as the #1 seed in 1969 after being upset by Tanniehill in round two. Tanniehill came back to a 3rd place finish.  Post college Borchers became a CEO of YMCA. 

As to Tanniehill, to this day I still think he makes a case for the best wrestler to ever come out of Alabama. Granted he knew nothing of wrestling until he moved to Minnesota as a 15 year old freshman in high school, but none the less if I were Alabama, I'd still want to claim him. When he walked into the wrestling room for the first day of practice, he thought he was gonna learn what he had been watching on TV. He was ready for bodyslams and coming off the top rope. He learned in a hurry that the wrestling he was going to be doing was much different. It didn't take him long to adapt though. By the time he was a senior, he finished 3rd in the state.  

Going to Winona State, Tanniehill would eventually earn All American honors six times. As a freshman in 1966, he was 3rd in the NAIA. As a sophomore in 1967 he was again 3rd in the NAIA, claiming 5th place at the NCAA DI tournament. A redshirt in 1968, he took 3rd at both the NAIA's & DI's. As a senior in 1970, he was an NAIA runner-up. 

1969 177 - U.S. Verlyn Strellner Iowa Upsets #1 Charles Shivers Oklahoma F 3:29 in QF 

Overshadowed by the long illustrious list of Hawkeye legends, Verlyn Strellner of what would today be South Tama County, holds his place in black & gold legendry. Not sure if the record still stands to this day, but if it doesn't, it stood for a long time. Strellner had the most falls at the Midlands tournament with 10, more than any other Hawkeye. Not slated to place, he earned his way onto the NCAA award stand in fashion by sticking 1968 NCAA runner-up & #1 seed Charles Shivers of Oklahoma in the Quarter-finals. Strellner would eventually finish 3rd. 

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