STILLWATER, OK - Former Hawkeye wrestler and assistant coach Chuck Yagla will receive the Lifetime Achievement for Officials Award at the 33rd annual National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum's Honors Weekend, June 5-6 in Stillwater, OK.
The rest of the 2009 induction class includes Distinguished Members Peter Blair (posthumously), Stephenson, MI; Edward Eichelberger, Suffolk, VA; Les Gutches, Corvalis, OR; and Dennis Koslowski, Minnetonka, MN; Outstanding American Steve Silver, Forney, TX; Order of Merit recipient Arno Niemand, Boulder, CO; and Medal of Courage recipient Larry Gibson, Omak, WA. The Lifetime Achievement for Officials Award is to recognize outstanding service as a wrestling or pairing official or judge. Inductees are honored in the Vince Zuaro Officials' Room.
As a competitor, Yagla reached the heights, but for generations of collegiate wrestlers, he's known not for what he did to opponents, but for what he did with a whistle around his neck.
Yagla was a three-time All-American, a two-time national champion and the Outstanding Wrestler at the 1976 NCAA tournament wrestling for the University of Iowa. He then served as an assistant coach to Dan Gable for five seasons (1977-82) at his alma mater. Yagla dominated the U.S. freestyle scene for several years, winning four National Open titles, and fresh out of college, was the alternate on the 1976 Olympic team. He also won gold and silver medals in the World Cup and finished second in the prestigious Tbilisi tournament in Russia. In 1980, he earned a spot on the Olympic team, but of course, did not compete when the U.S. boycotted the Moscow Games.
Beginning in 1983, Yagla spent 24 years as an NCAA official, gaining the respect of coaches and competitors nationwide. From 1996-2007, he was a fixture at the NCAA Division I Championships and was selected to referee finals matches five times. He officiated at six NCAA Division II Championships.
Two conferences, the Big Ten and the Pac-10, counted on him to officiate their conference championships for over 20 years. Both conferences chose him to be "head official" of their championships four times. He was a referee for two NWCA All-Star meets and was one of the officials selected for the National Duals 12 times.
Yagla hung up his whistle after the NCAA Championships in 2007, but couldn't quite escape from officiating entirely. In July of 2008, he was appointed as the Coordinator of Wrestling Officials for both the Big Ten and Big 12 Conferences. He is a member of both the National Wrestling Officials Association and the College Wrestling Officials Association.
When he's not in a wrestling gym somewhere, Yagla is employed at Kirk Gross Company in Waterloo as Director of Marketing and Public Relations.
Yagla is the first former Hawkeye wrestler to earn the Lifetime Achievement for Officials award from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. Twelve former Hawkeye wrestlers or coaches have been inducted as Distinguished Members and one as an Outstanding American. Following is the list and the year they were inducted.
Former Hawkeyes Who Were Inducted Into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame As Distinguished Members
1976 - Dave McCuskey
1977 - Terry McCann
1980 - Dan Gable
1993 - Ed Banach
1994 - Lou Banach
1998 - Randy Lewis
2000 - Gary Kurdelmeier
2001 - Tom Brands
2004 - Jim Zalesky
2005 - Chris Campbell
2006 - Terry Brands
2007 - Barry Davis
Former Hawkeye Who Was Inducted Into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame As Outstanding Americans
2002 - Major General Kenneth C. Leuer