Joe Corso, Gary Steffensmeier, Jessie Whitmer and the late Don Buzzard have been announced as inductees for the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame Class of 2019, the facility which honors individuals who have contributed to the sport of wrestling within the state of Iowa announced Friday.
In addition, Dale Bahr, who was actually announced in 1988 but unable to participate in that induction ceremony three decades ago, will also take part in this year’s Annual Awards Banquet and Induction Ceremony.
This year’s ceremony will take place Monday evening, April 8, 2019 at the Cresco Country Club south of Cresco, hometown for the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame. The 50th Annual Awards Banquet and Induction Ceremony will begin with a social hour at 5:30 p.m. Central, followed by a banquet at 6:30.
Banquet tickets are available at the Cresco Chamber of Commerce at 563-547-3434 or CIA Insurance in Cresco at 563-547-2382. Tickets are $25 and advance registration is required.
This year’s honorees:
Don Buzzard was a two-time state champion for Waterloo East High School, winning back-to-back titles in 1963 and 1964. Buzzard went on to Iowa State University where he was a two-time NCAA runner-up at 191 pounds. As a sophomore Buzzard won the 191-pound title at the Midlands, the annual Christmastime tournament held in suburban Chicago. Buzzard coached at Jesup before becoming an assistant coach at the University of Iowa (1973-1974). During his competitive career Buzzard only lost a total of nine matches. Buzzard passed away in 2016.
Joe Corso won a state title for West Des Moines Valley at 113 pounds in 1971. After winning a bronze medal in the NCAA championships for Purdue, Corso continued his career in freestyle wrestling where he excelled. Corso went on to become a ten-time national freestyle champion, placed third in the World Championships of 1978 and was the 1979 Pan-American Games champion. Corso was also on the 1980 Olympic team and an alternate in 1984. Corso is still coaching and has had a long history with the Sunkist Wrestling Club.
Gary Steffensmeier wrestled at Fort Madison High for Hall of Fame coach Mick Pickford. Steffensmeier was the Bloodhounds’ first two-time state champion and their first four-time state tournament medalist. Steffensmeier won titles in 1986 at 112 pounds, then the following year at 119. He capped his senior year with a perfect 32-0 record. Steffensmeier went to the University of Northern Iowa where he was a three-time Division I All-American with a runner-up and two fourth-place finishes. He finished with a collegiate record of 115-29-3.
Jessie Whitmer was a four-time medalist and a one-time state champion for Eagle Grove High School. Whitmer then went to the University of Iowa where he was able to break into the starting line up as a 118-pound senior. Whitmer was one of five national champions for the storied 1997 squad that broke the record for number of points scored at the tournament (170).
Dale Bahr was a two-time state champion for Iowa Falls high school, wrestling for Hall of Fame honoree Gary Kurdelmeier. Under Harold Nichols at Iowa State, Bahr won the 145-pound national championship as a senior. He was a two-time All American before winning his national championship. Bahr went on to a successful coaching career, culminating as head coach for the University of Michigan from 1978-99.
Jesse Whitmer (right) with Dan Gable in 2017
The Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame’s purpose is to honor and promote amateur wrestling in Iowa. The IWHOF has a rich history of honoring native Iowans at an annual awards banquet and induction ceremony going back to 1970. At the conclusion of this year’s ceremony, the IWHOF will have honored a total of 133 outstanding individuals for their contributions to amateur wrestling.
The Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame is located in the Cresco Welcome Center at the intersection of Highway 9 and Elm Street in downtown Cresco. The Hall of Fame is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.
To learn more about the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame and its honorees, visit the official website.