Greg Strobel, a Distinguished Member inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2012 and a lifelong leader with USA Wrestling, passed away on Thursday, at the age of 68.
“On behalf of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Board of Governors and staff, we extend our most sincere sympathies to Greg’s family and friends on his unexpected passing,” said Lee Roy Smith, Executive Director. “We would also like to express our sympathies to USA Wrestling and the Lehigh University athletics and wrestling communities that Greg was so instrumental in building and sustaining.
“Greg had a contagious energy for wrestling, and was passionate about inspiring and teaching wrestlers, coaches, administrators and volunteers how to best embrace and excel in our sport,” he added. “His leadership as national teams director in the early days of USA wrestling helped lay the foundation for the success that our athletes have on the world stage today.”
“The untimely passing of Greg Strobel is obviously a huge blow to the wrestling community. His fingerprints are all over USA Wrestling. He’s a mentor of mine, somebody who poured his entire life into the sport of wrestling. He is irreplaceable,” said Rich Bender, USA Wrestling Executive Director.
The front lobby of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame has a cabinet that was constructed by Strobel and fellow Distinguished Member Bruce Baumgartner.
As a wrestler, coach, and a leader, Greg Strobel did it all. Strobel’s wrestling story began at Scappoose High School in Oregon. He won three state championships at 191 pounds and, at one point during his senior year, Strobel actually coached the team.
Staying close to home, Strobel wrestled at Oregon State under Hall of Fame coach Dale Thomas. His career with the Beavers was exceptional. Strobel was a three-time All-American, compiling a 124-5-1 record.
As a junior at the 1973 NCAA tournament, Strobel was thrown early in his championship finals match at 190 pounds against Johnny Johnson of Northern Illinois before storming back for an 11-7 victory. He became Oregon State’s first ever recipient of the Outstanding Wrestler for his efforts. He finished the season at 39-0, and continued his unbeaten streak into the 1974 season. Strobel capped his senior season with another NCAA title and winning streak of 77 matches.
Strobel’s impact on wrestling continued as a coach, including head coaching stints at the high school, college, and international levels. He will be best remembered for his career as the head wrestling coach at Lehigh University. From 1994 through 2008, Strobel’s teams compiled a 189-83-1 dual meet record. He led the Mountain Hawks to six EIWA championships, including five in a row from 2002 through 2006. His wrestlers captured 28 individual EIWA titles and 30 All-American honors. Strobel also coached two NCAA champions: Rob Rohn in 2002 and Troy Letters in 2004.
As an international coach, Strobel was just as successful. Prior to arriving at Lehigh he was the National Teams Director for USA Wrestling from 1983 through 1991, overseeing USA Wrestling’s international teams and programs. He was also the National Freestyle Coach for USA Wrestling in 1987-88. Strobel also joined Distinguished Members Dan Gable and John Smith as head coaches of the 2000 United States Olympic freestyle wrestling team.
He advanced the sport through key leadership positions at Lehigh and for USA Wrestling. In 2009, Strobel was named Man of the Year by USA Wrestling. After stepping down as Lehigh’s coach in 2008, Strobel remained with Lehigh as an assistant athletic director. All throughout his professional career, he served as a volunteer leader with USA Wrestling, as an officer, member of the Board of Directors and chair of numerous important committees. He most recently served as its second vice president.
Strobel made a huge impact on the sport of wrestling at every level, a man who advanced the sport and allowed wrestling to grow and improve.