A number of all-time great college wrestlers and coaches passed away in 2012. Some had earned their on-the-mat honors a half-century or more ago, while others had competed much more recently. Among the mat stars whose passing was noted by College Wrestling Examiner this past year:
Olympians: Lee Allen, 77, two-time U.S. Olympic wrestler (freestyle in 1956, Greco-Roman in 1960) who also coached at the Olympics and in college… Jeff Blatnick, 55, 1984 Olympic gold medalist in Greco-Roman, NCAA Division II heavyweight champ for Springfield College, and NCAA and MMA TV commentator… Bill Farrell, 82, head coach of the U.S. freestyle team at the 1972 Olympics… and Josiah “Joe” Henson, 90, 1952 Olympic bronze medalist in freestyle, and two-time EIWA (Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association) champ for the U.S. Naval Academy.
NCAA champs: Les Anderson, 74, two-time NCAA champ for Iowa State (1958, 1960) who later served as assistant coach for the Cyclones for more than two decades… Dave Porter, 66, two-time NCAA heavyweight champ for Michigan (1966, 1968)… Joe Brett Reynolds, 44, 1990 NCAA 142-pound champ for University of Oklahoma… Eddie Urbano, 50, 1985 NCAA titlewinner for Arizona State… Keith Young, 81, three-time NCAA champ at Iowa State Teachers College (now Northern Iowa) from 1949-1951… and Aaron Wernimont, 24, two-time NCAA Division III 157-pound titlist for Wartburg College.
All-Americans: Les Austin, 76, 1960 NCAA 137-pound finalist for Syracuse… Pete Cornell, 66, 177-pound NCAA finalist for Michigan… Jack Ellena, 80, 1953 NCAA heavyweight All-American for UCLA who played for the L.A. Rams… Max Pearson, 78, two-time NCAA finalist (1957, 1958) for the Wolverines… and John Henry Ward, 64, 1969 NCAA heavyweight All-American for Oklahoma State who went on to a successful NFL career.
Coaches: John Barron Bremner, 75, 1950s University of Iowa heavyweight who coached at Coe College and Cornell College in Iowa… Bill Kralicek, 62, University of Colorado wrestler and coach at Colorado Mesa University… Joe Rios, 46, former Cerritos and Chico State wrestler who coached in Northern California… and Rich Sofman, 69, ex-Penn wrestler and coach at New Jersey’s Montclair State.
Six degrees of separation, Michigan matmen: At least three former Wolverine mat stars left us this year: Max Pearson, Dave Porter, and Pete Cornell.
Six degrees of separation, NCAA championship rivals: Les Anderson was a three-time NCAA finalist, winning two titles. He, along with the two men he defeated in the finals for his titles – Max Pearson in 1958, and Les Austin in 1960 – passed away in 2012.
Gone too soon: This year, a number of wrestlers died young. In addition to Wartburg champ Aaron Wernimont, 24 (who died in a medical emergency at home), others include Ronnie Balfour, former Oklahoma Sooner who lost his battle with leukemia just after his 20th birthday… Jordan Baumeister, 25, a former Ursinus matman who died of cancer, and his teammate Daniel Glover, 24, who died a week later from injuries sustained in a car accident on the way to Baumeister’s funeral… Andre Gonzalez, 22, former Cal State Fullerton wrestler, in an auto accident… Tyler Savage, 22, an alum of the Notre Dame College of Ohio wrestling team, in a motorcycle wreck… and Jack Pinto, 6, Newtown Wrestling Club member who was one of 20 first-graders murdered in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut in December.
College Wrestling Examiner’s Year in Review: For the fourth straight year, College Wrestling Examiner will be taking a look at the Top Ten Stories of 2012. Now through the end of this year, we’ll be posting our choices for the ten most significant stories in the world of collegiate wrestling.
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