National Wrestling Hall of Fame Announces Class of 2022
The National Wrestling Hall of Fame's Class of 2022 is Distinguished Members Clarissa Chun, Sara McMann, Andy Rein and Jake Varner, Meritorious Official Tom Clark (posthumously), Order of Merit Recipient Mike Moyer, Medal of Courage recipient Melissa Simmons, and Outstanding American honoree Mario Lopez.
“Following an extensive screening and selection process, I am excited to announce such a notable and deserving group of honorees for 2022,” said Lee Roy Smith, Executive Director of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. “We are fortunate to be able to spotlight these inductees who have transcended our sport’s heritage over the past 40 years. It is also a class that represents the positive transformational impact females are realizing in wrestling, with two female Distinguished Members and our first female Medal of Courage recipient.”
The Hall of Fame Board of Governors approved the selections at their meeting in Waterloo, Iowa on October 25.
The induction ceremony will be held at the 45th Honors Weekend on June 3-4, 2022 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. For more information on Honors Weekend, please telephone (405) 377-5243.
Chun, McMann and Varner were chosen as Distinguished Members for the Modern Era while Rein was selected by the Veterans Committee. The newest honorees will bring the number of Distinguished Members to 204, since the Hall of Fame began in 1976.
It is the first time that more than one female Distinguished Member has been selected and Chun and McMann become the third and fourth female Distinguished Members, joining Tricia Saunders (2006) and Kristie Davis (2018).
Simmons is the first female selected to receive the Medal of Courage while three females being honored equals the largest number of females in a single year. The Class of 1998 included Sandy Stevens receiving the Order of Merit and Sue Siar and Sally Stanford being honored as Meritorious Officials.
Rein becomes the 10th and final member of the 1984 United States Olympic freestyle team to be honored as a Distinguished Member, making it the only Olympic team to have every team member recognized. Other team members were Ed Banach (1993), Lou Banach (1994), Bruce Baumgartner (2002), Barry Davis (2007), Joe Gonzales (2015), Randy Lewis (1998), Dave Schultz (1997), Mark Schultz (1995), and Bobby Weaver (2008). It is the only Olympic team where every member has been recognized as a Distinguished Member. Every member of the coaching staff from 1984 is also a Distinguished Member with head coach Dan Gable (1980) and assistant coaches Bobby Douglas (1987), Stan Dziedzic (1996), J Robinson (2005) and Bill Weick (2007).
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. Wrestlers must have been retired from active competition for a period of five years to be eligible for consideration as a Distinguished Member.
Clarissa Chun won the world championships in 2008 and captured a bronze medal at the Olympics in 2012. A four-time U.S. Open champion, she competed in five world championships and two Olympics, finishing fifth in 2008 when she was the first wrestler from Hawaii to qualify for the Olympics. Chun also won four Pan American Championships and was a silver medalist at the Pan American Games in 2011. She was a four-time Sunkist Kids International Open champion and also captured championships at the Dave Schultz Memorial International, Poland Open, Open Cup of Russia, New York AC International, Vehbi Emre Golden Grand Prix, and Klippan Ladies Open. She was a two-time Hawaii girls state high school wrestling champion for Roosevelt High School and placed third in the 1999 USGWA High School Nationals. Chun made history when she won the first Hawaii state title in the first year that the state held an officially sanctioned tournament for girls. She also qualified for state in swimming and bowling and competed in judo and water polo. She competed for Missouri Valley College, where she was a star on one of the pioneer women’s college wrestling team programs. Chun made the Senior Women’s National Team while still a student at Missouri Valley. Chun was a two-time University Nationals champion and placed fourth at the University World Championships in 2004. She placed fifth at the 2001 Junior World Championships, after finishing eighth in 2000, and was the 2000-01 FILA Junior Nationals champion. Since 2017, she has been Assistant National Women’s Coach for USA Wrestling, during which American women have won six gold medals, four silver medals and five bronze medals at the world championships and a gold, a silver and two bronze at the 2020 Olympics. Chun received her bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and was inducted into the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame in 2018.
Sara McMann was a member of the first United States Olympic women’s wrestling team in 2004 and the first American woman to reach the Olympic finals, defeating a world champion and a world bronze medalist. Among her biggest wins, McMann was one of the only people to defeat legendary Japanese athlete Kaori Icho, who is considered arguably the greatest women’s wrestler of all time with four Olympic gold medals and 10 World Championships. McMann competed in seven world championships, earning a silver medal in 2003 and bronze medals in 2005 and 2007. McMann won Pan American Games in 2003 and 2007 and was the Klippan Lady Open champion in 2003. She was a six-time U.S. Nationals champion, capturing titles in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2007. A member of the boys wrestling team at McDowell High School in Marion, North Carolina, McMann competed at the University of Minnesota Morris, the first varsity program for women’s wrestling. While competing for UMM, she competed in the 1999 and 2000 Junior World Championships, placing in the top six both times, and competed in her first Senior World Championships, placing ninth in 2000. McMann transferred to Lock Haven University and competed on the men’s varsity team. She was inducted into the Lock Haven Athletics Hall of Fame in 2017. She transitioned into a fighting career in 2010 and has become one of the top-ranked mixed martial arts fighters in the UFC. She lost to Ronda Rousey in the UFC Women's Bantamweight Championship in 2014 and has a career record of 12-6.
Andy Rein was a silver medalist at the Olympics in 1984 after being an alternate for the 1980 Olympics. He captured a gold medal at the prestigious Tbilisi International Tournament in 1983 and was a silver medalist at the Super Champion Title Tournament in Tokyo in 1985. The four-time National Freestyle champion won a gold medal at the Pan American Championships in 1979 while finishing fourth at the world championships in 1981 and earning a silver medal at the World Cup in 1982. He was an NCAA champion and two-time finalist for Wisconsin, capturing the national title at 150 pounds in 1980. Rein was a three-time All-American and a two-time Big Ten champion while also winning three Midlands Tournament titles. He was a two-time East-West All-Star Meet champion and had a career record of 119-13-1. Rein was a two-time Wisconsin high school state champion for Stoughton High School while also capturing state and national AAU titles in Greco-Roman and freestyle. He was head coach for Wisconsin for seven seasons, leading the Badgers to Top 15 finishes at the NCAA Division I Championships six times. Rein coached three national champions and 14 All-Americans while compiling a career record of 81-41-3. He was NCAA Rookie Coach of the Year in 1987 and Big Ten Coach of the Year in 1992. He was a National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Star Team coach in 1993 and was a member of USA Wrestling’s national freestyle coaching staff. Rein was named University of Wisconsin Athlete of the Century and was inducted into the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002. He received the Area Sportsperson of the Year Award in 1976 and 1980 from the Madison Sports Hall of Fame. Rein is a member of the Midlands Hall of Fame, the George Martin Wrestling Hall of Fame and received the Badger Legend Award.
Jake Varner won Olympic gold in 2012, concluding a stellar year that saw him also win gold at the Pan American Games and a bronze medal at the Ivan Yarygin Memorial International. He competed in three world championships, winning a bronze medal in 2011 and finishing ninth in 2009. He was a two-time NCAA Division I national champion and a four-time finalist for Iowa State. The 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials runner-up behind eventual Olympic champion Kyle Snyder, Varner won national titles at 197 pounds in 2009 and 2010 after finishing second at 184 pounds in 2007 and 2008. In his final three years of college, Varner lost only three matches, by a combined total of two points. He lost in the national finals on criteria as a sophomore and then had a pair of one-point losses as a junior before going undefeated as a senior. Twice named Iowa State Male Athlete of the Year, he was inducted into the Iowa State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2021. Varner was a two-time high school state champion and four-time state qualifier in one-class California, compiling a career record of 159-10 with 132 falls. Named Outstanding Wrestler in 2005, he was only wrestler in California history to pin all six opponents in the state tournament. Varner was the California winner of the Hall of Fame’s Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award in 2005. The summer after graduating high school, he qualified for the 2005 FILA Junior World Freestyle Championships, defeating Jake Herbert, who had finished fourth at the 2005 NCAA Division I Championships. Varner, however, was unable to compete after suffering a broken leg in the team’s first on-site practice. He was a two-time Midlands Tournament champion and a three-time NWCA All-Star Classic champion. He was the 2005 recipient of the Wade Schalles Award. A two-time champion at the Reno Tournament of Champions, he was the Outstanding Wrestler at the 2004 Brute Nationals. Varner, who received his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Iowa State, has been an assistant wrestling coach at Penn State University since 2016.
The Medal of Courage recipient is a wrestler or former wrestler who has overcome what appear to be insurmountable challenges, providing inspiration to others.
Melissa Simmons was in a car accident when she was 18 years old. She suffered from a fractured eye socket and retina damage due to her face colliding with the steering wheel. After several surgeries and an orbital implant, doctors feared she would never be able to open her eye and never be able to wrestle again. Later that year, Simmons, with a face mask she had designed to protect her, returned to the wrestling mat. Wrestling for Oklahoma City University, she had a career record of 73-18 with 42 falls, winning a national championship in 2008 while finishing second in 2010 and third in 2011. Simmons helped OCU capture three team national championships and three National Wrestling Coaches Association National Duals titles. Originally from Ridgefield, Washington, she began competing in wrestling in elementary school and won seven national titles and All-American honors as a youth. In 2005, she dropped out of high school with the blessing of her parents, completed her GED and enrolled as a freshman at Northern Michigan University to begin training at the U.S. Olympic Education Center. In her second week of practice, Simmons tore her ACL and two months later her teammate and best friend, Toni Copeland, drowned in Lake Superior. The following year, Simmons returned to Washington and continued to take classes at an area college and train with her local club team, Southwest Washington Wrestling Club. Her car accident occurred three weeks after her return and on the one-year anniversary of Copeland’s death. Simmons graduated from Oklahoma City University in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and exercise science. She worked as an assistant coach for OCU and as the director of operations for North Carolina State’s wrestling program. While at NCSU she earned her master’s degree in parks recreation, tourism and sport management, in addition to a degree in sports & entertainment venue management. Simmons also served as coach for several USA Wrestling teams including University Worlds, Junior Worlds, Pan Am Championships and was the first women’s director for the state of North Carolina. In 2019 Simmons returned to Oklahoma and accepted her current position as director of operations for the University of Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team.
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.
Mike Moyer has been executive director of the National Wrestling Coaches Association since 1999. Under his leadership, NWCA membership has grown from 1,700 to more than 10,000 and the organization has established 260 new intercollegiate wrestling programs, including more than 90 women’s teams, in the last decade. Moyer established the NWCA CEO Leadership Program that has trained over 700 college coaches and more than 1,300 high school coaches on best practices. He has also overseen and facilitated fundraising initiatives that helped establish several Division I men’s and women’s programs, creating hundreds of coaching opportunities for men and women. Moyer has spearheaded establishing new chapters for Wrestlers In Business Network, an organization that connects wrestlers and provides career opportunities for college wrestling graduates. He also oversees a vast majority of NWCA committees that function for the purpose of strengthening high school and college wrestling for males and females. He expanded the NWCA National Duals from a 16-team event to more than 100 schools representing men’s and women’s team at all collegiate divisions. He competed in three NCAA Division I Championships for West Chester State College, now West Chester University, and received his bachelor’s degree in health/physical education in 1983. Served as a graduate assistant at James Madison University for one year and earned his master’s degree in athletic administration. Coached by his father, William Moyer, he competed in three Pennsylvania state wrestling tournaments and had a career record of 89-14-2 for Wilson High School in West Lawn, Pennsylvania. Moyer was head coach at Chowan Junior College in 1984-85 and advanced three wrestlers to the NJCAA Championships. He was head coach at George Mason University from 1985 to 1995 and led his team to three Virginia Intercollegiate League team titles, two Colonial Athletic Association team championships, and an East Regional team title while compiling a career record of 126-29-2. Twenty-seven GMU wrestlers competed in the NCAA Division I Championships with four earning All-American honors, including a two-time All-American. Moyer was executive director of the GMU Patriot Club from 1995 to 1999 and served as chairman of the NCAA Wrestling Committee from 1997 to 1999. He received the Lifetime Service to Wrestling award from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame’s Virginia Chapter in 2010 and serves on the USA Wrestling and National Wrestling Hall of Fame boards.
The Meritorious Official award recognizes outstanding service as a referee, judge, or pairing official.
Tom Clark, who passed away in 2017 at 58 years old, officiated for 35 years, beginning while attending Ohio State and continuing in Indiana. The Bluffton, Ohio native was selected as a referee for the Olympics in 2008 and worked dozens of World Championships and major international competitions at the senior level. Named Official of the Year by USA Wrestling in 1988, Clark retired after the Olympics to open up opportunities at the highest level for young, talented officials. A top high school wrestling official, he received the Indiana Interscholastic Athletic Officials Association Award for excellence in wrestling in 2007 and was the Indiana Wrestling Association Official of the Year in 2005. Clark served as a board member for the U.S. Wrestling Officials Association and was vice president of the organization at the time of his death. His commitment to wrestling was at every level, from youth to high school and on to the international level.