The National Wrestling Hall of Fame announced on Thursday that the Class of 2017 inductees are Distinguished Members Tony (Babe) Gizoni, Cary Kolat, Andre Metzger and Chuck Yagla, Meritorious Official Mike Hagerty, Outstanding American Captain Dominic (Dom) Pudwill Gorie, Order of Merit Greg Hatcher and Medal of Courage Thomas Green.
“The Class of 2017 features truly remarkable individuals who have been successful on and off the mat,” said Lee Roy Smith, Executive Director of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. “We look forward each year to honoring those who have not only made contributions to our sport, but also those who have taken what they learned in wrestling to excel throughout their life.”
The Hall of Fame Board of Governors approved the selections at its meeting in Kansas City on Oct. 27. The induction ceremony will be held at the 41st Annual Honors Weekend on June 2-3 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. For more information on Honors Weekend, please telephone (405) 377-5243.
Kolat and Metzger were chosen as Distinguished Members for the Modern Era while Gizoni and Yagla were selected by the Veterans Committee.
Distinguished Members can be a wrestler who has achieved extraordinary success in national and/or international competition; a coach who has demonstrated great leadership in the profession and who has compiled an outstanding record; or a contributor whose long-term activities have substantially enhanced the development and advancement of the sport.
Tony Gizoni wrestled for Washington High School in Washington, Pennsylvania, where he became the fourth wrestler in state history to win three state championships, capturing the title at 101 pounds in 1946, at 103 pounds in 1947 and at 112 pounds in 1948. He won back-to-back NCAA Division I championships for Waynesburg University in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, being voted Outstanding Wrestler after winning at 121 pounds in 1950 and defeating Bill Borders from the University of Oklahoma in 1951. He was ineligible to compete in the NCAA tournament as a freshman and was declared ineligible as a senior due to competing in dual meets and tournaments that were not approved by the NCAA Rules Committee. He finished his college career with a 52-0 record, and his overall record for high school and college was 120-3-1 with the three losses and the tie occurring in his freshman year of high school. Gizoni did not lose during his final three years of high school and four years of college, winning 108 consecutive matches. He served in the Korean War and earned a Bronze Star in 1956. Gizoni is a member of the Pennsylvania Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame, the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame Washington-Greene and the Helms Foundation Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Cary Kolat was a four-time state champion for Jefferson-Morgan High School in Green County, Pennsylvania, compiling a 137-0 record. He was named Outstanding Wrestler at the state tournament every year, an honor that no other wrestler had achieved even twice. He wrestled two seasons at Penn State University, reaching the Big Ten finals as a freshman before winning the title and being named Big Ten Wrestler of the Year as a sophomore. He reached the NCAA finals as a freshman and finished third as a sophomore. After transferring to Lock Haven University, he won back-to-back NCAA Championships in 1996 and 1997, finishing 25-1 as a junior and 25-0 as a senior. He also won two Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference titles and back-to-back Eastern Wrestling League Championships where he was named Outstanding Wrestler both years. He finished his college career with a 111-7 record and 53 falls. He was a member of the United States Men’s Freestyle team from 1997-2001 and won a silver medal at the World Championships in 1997 and a bronze medal in 1998. He won gold medals at the World Cup in 1998, 1999 and 2000, and at the Pan American Games in 1999 and 2000. He was a silver medalist at the World Cup in 2001 and finished ninth at the Olympic Games in 2000. He was the University National Freestyle champion in 1995 and the U.S. Open champion in 1997, 1999 and 2000. Kolat is currently the wrestling coach at Campbell University after being an assistant coach at Lehigh University, the University of Wisconsin, West Virginia University, Lock Haven and the University of North Carolina.
Andre Metzger is one of the greatest technicians in amateur wrestling history, and he wrestled and won more matches than anyone, competing in over 2,000 matches and winning 1,870 for an estimated winning percentage of 93.5 percent. He was a state champion at Cedar Springs High School in Michigan and was the first wrestler to win five junior national titles, capturing three freestyle and two Greco-Roman championships. Before beginning his career at the University of Oklahoma, he wrestled in the 1979 World Championships and won a bronze medal to become the youngest American to medal in the World Championships at 19 years old. He was a two-time NCAA champion and a four-time All-American for Oklahoma, winning titles in 1981 and 1982 after finishing second in 1980 and fifth in 1979. Metzger was the United States Senior Greco-Roman champion in 1980 and a five-time U.S. Freestyle Champion, winning titles in 1979, 1982, 1984, 1986 and 1987. Metzger won gold medals at the Pan American Games in 1979 and 1987 while capturing silver medals at the World Cup in 1980, 1986 and 1988 and at the World Games in 1986. He was an alternate to Distinguished Member Nate Carr on the 1988 Olympic Freestyle team and defeated at least six Olympic gold medalists during his career. He returned to the mat 2012 at the age of 52 and competed for a spot on the U.S. Greco-Roman team. Metzger was an assistant coach at Indiana University, University of North Carolina and Villanova University from 1983-88 and currently is the head coach at the University of North Texas as well as a member of the coaching staff for the Bombers of Frisco Wrestling Club.
Chuck Yagla was a three-time All-American, a two-time national champion and the Outstanding Wrestler at the 1976 NCAA Championships for the University of Iowa. He was an alternate on the 1976 Olympic team and earned a spot on the 1980 team but did not compete when the United States boycotted the Olympics in Moscow. Yagla was a four-time National Open champion and won gold and silver medals at the World Cup while also placing second at the prestigious Tbilisi tournament in Russia. He stopped competing but did not step off the mat, as he began a career as an NCAA official in 1983. He earned the respect of coaches and competitors while working NCAA Division I Championships from 1996-2007, including five finals matches. Yagla officiated six NCAA Division II Championships and worked the Big Ten and Pac-10 Championships for over 20 years, working as head official for each conference four times. He refereed two National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Star meets and was selected to work the National Duals 12 times. He stepped off the mat following the 2007 NCAA Championships, but continued to be involved in officiating as Coordinator of Wrestling Officials for the Big Ten and Big 12 conferences. Yagla received the Meritorious Official award from the Hall of Fame in 2009 and was inducted into the Glen Brand Wrestling Hall of Fame of Iowa in 2004.
The Outstanding American award recognizes individuals who have used the disciplines of the sport to launch notable careers after concluding their wrestling career. Past recipients have included individuals who have excelled in science, technology, business, industry, government, military, and arts and humanities.
Captain Dominic (Dom) Pudwill Gorie began wrestling in junior high school and competed for Miami Palmetto High School in Florida where he had a career record of 41-9-1. He wrestled four years at the United States Naval Academy for coach Ed Peery, who was inducted as a Distinguished Member in 1980, finishing with an 8-15-2 record. Gorie received his Bachelor of Science degree in ocean engineering from the Naval Academy in 1979 and his master’s degree in aviation systems from the University of Tennessee in 1990. He was designated as a naval aviator in 1981 and piloted fighter jets aboard the USS America, the USS Coral Sea and USS Roosevelt from 1981-92, accumulating more than 600 carrier landings while also flying 38 combat missions in Operation Desert Storm. Gorie was ordered to United States Space Command in 1992 and was selected as an Astronaut Candidate in 1994. He reported to Johnson Space Center in 1995. Following a year of training and evaluation, Gorie was assigned to work safety issues for the Astronaut Office. Gorie served as a spacecraft communicator in Mission Control for numerous Space Shuttle flights and was chief of the Astronaut Shuttle Branch. In June of 1998, his career in space took flight with the first of two shuttle missions as a pilot, followed by two more as Mission Commander. Gorie, who retired from NASA in 2010, has logged over 49 days in space. He has received five Medal of Citation honors including the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1992 and 2010, the Defense Superior Service Medal in 1999, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal in 2000 and the Legion of Merit from 1995-2002. Gorie is now an active volunteer and board member with Combat Wounded Veterans Challenge, a national organization that provides a spectrum of adventures to wounded veterans while focusing on rehabilitation research.
The Medal of Courage recipient is a wrestler or former wrestler who has overcome what appear to be insurmountable challenges, providing inspiration to others.
Tom Green’s life changed on May 15, 1997 in a workplace accident when a pipe burst and sprayed potassium hydroxide in his face. Blind from the accident and his face badly burned, Green, who had also been working as a referee, underwent a series of surgeries. He had a procedure to increase the size of his mouth, which had healed so small that he couldn’t put his thumb in, and a cornea transplant, as well as another rare eye surgery that required a donation from his brother that eventually helped him regain his sight. With the help of his wife, Mary, and his two sons, Caleb and Cormac, Green has stayed positive while enduring more than 40 surgeries, including reconstructive retinal surgery and a synthetic cornea implant. One year after the accident, he returned to wrestling as a volunteer assistant coach, helped start a youth program and eventually took over as head wrestling coach for the Port Byron Central School District in Port Byron, New York. Green has led Port Byron to the Patriot League title the last six seasons while being named Coach of the Year seven times. He is the all-time wins leader at Weedsport High School, and he qualified for nationals at Cayuga Community College and earned all-state honors at SUNY Cortland.
The Order of Merit is presented to an individual that has made a significant contribution to the sport of wrestling, but who is not an athlete or a coach.
Greg Hatcher was a nine-letter winner and one of the last athletes to play three varsity sports for four years at Alma College in Michigan. He was captain of the wrestling team and was named first-team All-Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1982-83. Hatcher helped the wrestling and baseball teams each capture three MIAA titles while also lettering in soccer. He was inducted into the Alma College Athletic Hall of Fame as a Distinguished Alumnus in 2007, and he was a member of three Hall of Fame wrestling teams and two Hall of Fame baseball teams. Hatcher was president of his junior class and served as president of the student body as a senior. He co-founded and was president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and also served as sports information director from 1981-83. He was Alma College’s Top Senior Graduate in 1983 and also was chosen Tau Kappa Epsilon’s national Top TKE. He started The Hatcher Agency in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1990 with a loan from the bank, an assistant and 500 square feet of office space. At the end of the first year, Hatcher had outgrown the office space and had seven employees while producing more insurance than any agent in Arkansas. The Hatcher Agency was named Arkansas’s Small Business of the Year in 1993 and has led the state in health insurance every year since its founding in 1990. Arkansas Business named it the Most Philanthropic Company in 2006, and it has been chosen as the Best Insurance Agency every year. Hatcher founded the Arkansas Wrestling Association in 2005 and is proud that now more than 4,000 kids are wrestling in Arkansas. He was instrumental in Arkansas becoming the 49th state to institute the sport at the high school level. He helped start programs and purchased wrestling mats for 65 high schools, a wrestling academy and 10 college programs while also funding the Hatcher Wrestling Center at both Ouachita Baptist University and Lyon College in Arkansas and the Hatcher Wrestling Room at his alma mater. USA Wrestling and WIN Magazine have named Hatcher Man of the Year, and he received the Distinguished Alumni and the Certificate of Merit from the Arkansas Activities Association. He was presented the Outstanding American award from the Arkansas Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2014. Hatcher was named Arkansas’ Philanthropist of the Year in 2015 and was the March of Dimes Citizen of the Year in 2005. He wrote 55 Steps to Outrageous Service, a book outlining the service that The Hatcher Agency delivers every day to its clients, and Between The Ears (How to Think Like a Champion), sharing 110 hard-earned lessons learned from nearly 25 years of coaching. Hatcher serves on the board of the United States Wrestling Foundation and is also on the Alma College Board of Trustees.
The Meritorious Official award recognizes outstanding service as a referee, judge, or pairing official.
Mike Hagerty has 25 years of experience as an NCAA Division I official and has worked the NCAA Division I Championships from 2003 to present, including 11 finals matches. He has officiated 14 NCAA Division II Championships and has served as the head official four times. Hagerty has refereed 16 Big 12 Championships and seven Pac-12 Championships while also officiating two National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Star matches. He has also worked two NAIA Championships and has officiated NCAA Division III Championships. Hagerty founded the Inter-Collegiate Wrestling Officials Association in 2015 and continues to serve as Executive Director. He was president of the NCAA National Wrestling Coaches Association in 1989 and was a member of the Board of Directors from 1996-2001. Hagerty works as a coach for USA Wrestling and was an Olympic Team Camp coach in 2012 and 2016. He has been a USA World Team coach six times. He recently coached the United States World University Team, which won the first USA University World Championships in 2015. Hagerty has been named USA Wrestling Developmental Coach of the Year twice and was chairperson of Missouri USA Wrestling from 1983-89. He coached Central Missouri for seven seasons and had two national champions, 10 All-Americans and 25 national qualifiers while being named Midwest Regional Coach of the Year twice. Hagerty has been coaching at Blue Springs High School in Blue Springs, Missouri, for the past 24 years. He has coached the team to three state championships and seven other Top Three finishes while being named Missouri Coach of the Year five times. He wrestled at Higginsville High School in Higginsville, Missouri, where he was 87-6-1 and was a Scholastic Wrestling News Honorable Mention All-American. Hagerty qualified for the NCAA Division II Championships at Central Missouri State University where he was a Missouri Intercollegiate Athletic Association champion as well as team captain and Outstanding Wrestler. Hagerty is also a member of the Missouri Wrestling Association Hall of Fame and the Missouri USA Wrestling Hall of Fame. Hagerty was inducted into the Central Missouri Hall of Fame in 2015 and is also a member of the Central Missouri Hall of Legends. Hagerty’s son, Keenan, was a state champion for Blue Springs and a three-time All-American at Maryville University.
The Hall of Fame reopened in June following a $3.8 million renovation that included a complete demolition and rebuild of the interior. The museum now features interactive exhibits and electronic kiosks, as well as the opportunity to watch NCAA Championship matches from the 1930s to present day.
Located on the corner of Hall of Fame Avenue and Duck Street, the museum is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for military veterans and seniors (65 and older), $3 for students and $15 for a family. Children 5 and under and active military with an ID are free. For more information, visit www.nwhof.org or telephone (405) 377-5243.