Oklahoma Chapter

Official State Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame

Oklahoma Chapter to Induct Seven in October

STILLWATER, Okla.--The Oklahoma Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame will honor seven outstanding representatives of the sport at its annual induction banquet on Oct. 8 in Edmond.

Receiving the Lifetime Service to Wrestling award are high school coaches Benny Coleman, Shawn Wilson and John Strickland, longtime little league coach Carl Mize, and referee Sidney Sanders. The Outstanding American award will be presented to Rogers County Assistant District Attorney Todd Chesbro and the Medal of Courage award recipient is Jason Long, who used the skills learned in wrestling to survive an attack from a grizzly bear.

The Finn Family of Moore will be honored with the Madalene and Lee Roy Smith Family Award given to a family with two or more wrestlers who have achieved excellence in the sport and brought recognition to the state.

Tickets are $70 per person and can be purchased at OK-NWHOF.ticketleap.com or by contacting Howard Seay at c4dcowboys@aol.com or 918-639-8868.

The banquet will be at the Hilton Garden Inn, 2833 Conference Drive in Edmond. A reception begins at 3 p.m., followed by a banquet at 4 p.m. and the induction ceremony at 5 p.m.

The Lifetime Service award is presented to coaches, officials and contributors who have devoted a minimum of 20 years of service to wrestling. The Outstanding American award honors individuals who have used the disciplines of wrestling to launch notable careers in other walks of life such as science and technology, business and industry, and the arts and humanities. The Medal of Courage is presented to a wrestler or former wrestler who has overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges.

2023 Honorees

Benny Coleman—Lifetime Service to Wrestling—A two-time national champion and four-time All-American at the University of Central Oklahoma, Benny Coleman has served as Choctaw High School head wrestling coach since 1987. Compiling an overall record of 397-98, he has led Choctaw to six state tournament championships, five dual state championships and three academic state championships. He has coached four three-time state champions and one four-time champ, his son Zane Coleman. Long before Oklahoma officially sponsored girls wrestling, Coleman helped Becka Leathers achieve international success, including a bronze medal in the 2017 World Championships. In 2023, he coached Oklahoma’s first four-time girls state champion, Payton Hand.

Carl Mize—Lifetime Service to Wrestling—Carl Mize made his mark on wrestling in the state of Oklahoma as a little league coach, serving the Noble PeeWee Wrestling Program from 1983-2009 and again from 2010-2012. He was the Oklahoma Kids Wrestling Association regional director from 1992-2013 and has been president and tournament director of the United States Junior Open Championship from 1981-2023. He was honored as the Oklahoma USA Wrestling Man of the Year in 2003 and was the Tulsa Nationals Coach of the Year in 2002. Mize, who was coached in high school by National Wrestling Hall of Fame Distinguished Member Joe McDaniel, taught the sport of wrestling to numerous youngsters who grew into high school state place-winners.

Sidney Sanders—Lifetime Service to Wrestling—For 32 years, Sid Sanders served the sport of wrestling in Oklahoma as a referee. He officiated 23 state high school tournaments, 26 regional high school tournaments, 17 Western Conference Championships, 20 Midwestern Conference Championships and numerous high school tournaments throughout the state. He was chosen twice in his career to referee Oklahoma’s All-State dual. For the last 19 years, he has been responsible for hiring the officials and helping to organize the Oklahoma Junior High All-State Tournament. In addition, Sanders coached grade school wrestling for 11 years.

John Strickland—Lifetime Service to Wrestling—John Strickland devoted 50 years as a teacher, coach and official for students in Ada, Bray-Doyle and Duncan schools. He coached both junior high and high school teams in Ada and Duncan, recording a 147-38 dual record in 14 years at the junior high level and 217-46 in 18 high school seasons. He coached two state high school runner-up teams, one dual state runner-up team, five regional champion teams and five regional runners-up and six district championships. Individually he had eight state champions, nine state runners-up, two Outstanding Wrestler award winners and two high school All-Americans. He officiated for the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Association for 32 years, serving five regional tournaments and one state championship. He was inducted into the Duncan Athletic Hall of Fame in 2018.

Shawn Wilson—Lifetime Service to Wrestling—With coaching stints in Pawhuska, Cleveland, Broken Arrow, Wagoner and Barnsdall, Shawn Wilson has impacted the lives of wrestlers all over the northeastern region of Oklahoma. He coached 11 state champions, 47 state placers and 107 state qualifiers. Nine of his wrestlers earned all-state honors and five were high school All-Americans. His longest coaching stint, at Cleveland High School, produced his highest profile protégé, two-time junior national champion, NCAA champion and two-time All-American for Oklahoma State, J.J. McGrew. Wilson was honored as the 2015 All-State coach and as the 2016 Oklahoma Coaches Association Regional Coach of the Year.

Jason Long—Medal of Courage—In September of 2021, Jason Long was deep in Alaska’s wilderness when he stumbled upon a mother grizzly bear and her two cubs. A wrestler from the time he was six years old until he graduated from high school, Long credits the toughness, mental capacity and never-quit attitude with helping him survive the toughest match of his life, against the bear. He says he relied on the work ethic, dedication, mental toughness and physical toughness not only to survive until help arrived but also to endure the surgeries and healing that followed.

Todd Chesbro—Outstanding American—From a legendary Oklahoma wrestling family, Todd Chesbro was a three-time NCAA All-American, two-time Big Eight Conference champion and a member of two NCAA championship teams for Oklahoma State University. He twice earned Academic All-American honors and was awarded both a Big Eight and NCAA post-graduate scholarship. Chesbro graduated from the University of Oklahoma College of Law in 1996 and has used the skills he learned in wrestling to battle in the courtroom, serving stints as an assistant district attorney in two Oklahoma counties. He was captain and member of the Major Crime Team for Tulsa County from 2002-2007 and the Director of the Robbery Division and team captain from 2018-2022. He currently serves as the Major Crime and Drug Trafficking Prosecutor for the Rogers County District Attorney’s Office.

The Finn Family of Moore—The Madalene and Lee Roy Smith Family Award—Former Westmoore coach John Finn and his four sons, Chris, Patrick, Dustin and John, Jr., all wrestled for the University of Central Oklahoma, with John, Chris and Dustin earning All-America honors for the Bronchos. Dustin and Chris have followed their father into coaching, serving as assistant coaches for Westmoore and Tuttle, respectively.

Our Mission: To honor the sport of wrestling by preserving its history, recognizing extraordinary individual achievements, and inspiring future generations