Wrestling serves him well

(Laura Schmitt/The Gazette)

Kent Sesker

By Suzanne Barnes

The Gazette

It wasn't one building but it is another.

When he was a teenager, Kent Sesker suggested naming the then-new Iowa City sports facility after the University of Iowa wrestling coach, Dan Gable. Instead, the UI went with Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Fast forward a couple of decades to January 2007, when the International Wrestling Institute and Museum moved from its original home in Newton to Waterloo, where Gable grew up.

Mike Chapman, founder and executive director of the institute and museum, decided to change the name to honor Gable.

He has plenty of reasons. As head coach at Iowa, Gable led the Hawkeyes to 15 national titles in 21 seasons, including a record nine consecutive from 1978-86. Iowa won the Big Ten title in each of Gable's 21 seasons and went undefeated seven times. His career coaching record was 355-21-5 for a winning percentage of .938.

Gable also did extremely well as a wrestler, including winning a gold medal at the 1972 Olympics.

Sesker, 40, now marketing director of the 9-year-old facility, wasn't even working there when the new name was adopted.

As a youngster growing up in Tipton, Sesker was a wrestler himself. ``I had a lot of success as a kid,'' he said. He did well in youth tournaments and in high school was a two-time state qualifier and placed once at state.

Wrestling wasn't just a sport for Sesker.

``Wrestling taught me independence, self-discipline, goal-setting, the value of hard work,'' he said.

He never really left wrestling either. For the past 14 years, Sesker has worked various wrestling tournaments as an official.

He said when a friend told him about officiating at football games, Sesker said he was also interested in officiating. ``Basically, you just contact the Iowa High School Athletic Association,'' which sends out information.

At first, he had to pass an open-book true-false test, which forced him to read and
understand the rules. Temporary approval was granted with a passing grade. He then had to take a second closed-book test before receiving approved status.

In addition to wrestling, Sesker also officiates at high school football games and some youth baseball games.

Sesker commutes to his Waterloo job from his home on Pebble Drive SW in Cedar Rapids. He and his wife, Patricia, put a bid on their house shortly after their 1996 wedding, then learned his inlaws lived across the street. ``It's worked out great,'' he said.