With the Hawkeyes winning a team title this year, it seemed time to give credit to the man who designed and built the foundation for the Iowa wrestling program as it is today.
Rev Rewind: Gary Kurdelmeier
Mark Palmer, Staff Writer
Launched in the summer of 2007, Rev Rewind wrestling historical features will continue to appear from time-to-time now that the high school and collegiate wrestling season is over.
Wrestler. Coach. Athletic director. Innovator. Promoter. Architect.
Gary Kurdelmeier wore many hats in his life. Although he was a two-time Iowa high school state champ, a Big Ten titlist, an NCAA champ, and coach whose wrestlers won conference and national titles, Kurdelmeier's lasting legacy a decade after his death may well be as the architect whose planning and efforts thirty-five years ago helped put his Iowa Hawkeyes at the top of collegiate wrestling as 2008 NCAA team champions.
Long before Tom Brands, or Jim Zalesky, or Dan Gable, Gary Kurdelmeier was the head wrestling coach at the University of Iowa in the early 1970s. In just four seasons (1972-1976), Kurdelmeier's Hawkeyes won their first Big Ten individual and team titles in a decade, and their first-ever NCAA team titles. Kurdelmeier's coaching talent and innovative ideas helped set the foundation for Iowa to win 21 NCAA and 28 Big Ten team titles since 1974.
Even history-minded wrestling fans may only know Gary Kurdelmeier as "the man who hired Dan Gable." True, Kurdelmeier brought in the legendary Iowa State wrestler an assistant coach at Iowa in 1972 -- the year Gable won the freestyle gold medal at the Munich Olympics. But his own accomplishments as wrestler, coach and tireless innovator make Gary Kurdelmeier a significant figure in U.S. amateur wrestling in his own right...
The article includes information on Kurdelmeier as a wrestler in high school at wrestling hotbed Cresco, Iowa... as well as his mat career at University of Iowa...
... and it talks about his career as the Hawkeyes head coach, including recollections from one of his Hawkeyes, Steve Hunte...
Wrestling for Kurdelmeier
Steve Hunte was a two-time New York state champ from Bellmore Kennedy High School on Long Island who was recruited by a number of colleges. His dad, Ken Hunte, an All-American at Syracuse who was long-time coach at Long Island prep powerhouse Mepham, wanted Steve to wrestle at the U.S. Naval Academy. However, Steve Hunte had competed twice at the Junior Nationals held in Iowa City. "I'd seen that (University of) Iowa had a great recruiting class ahead of mine, and my class was shaping up the same way," recalls Hunte. "Those factors, along with John Marks' recruitment efforts, made me a believer."
Among Steve Hunte's highlights as a Hawkeye: he defeated Rick Thompson of Slippery Rock at the 1977 NWCA All-Star event? and he was a two-time Big Ten champ, winning the 134-pound conference title in 1977 and 1978...
(edited out portion -- to read, click on the link)
"He had Red Flag Days, where practice would go an extra half-hour," recalls Hunte. "No advance notice. Sprints to the top of the Field House. Shark-bait drills of non-stop wrestling. More sprints. Carrying guys piggyback to the top of the Field House. The grueling intensity was unimaginable. Your lungs would be burning, muscles reacting -- pulling, pushing, grasping, grabbing, slapping, shooting, pounding, smashing, denying, fighting, grinding, tripping, punishing, prying, wrestling in pools of sweat, no break, no rest, giving it 100% as if your life depended on it, for three hours straight."