Athens launches wrestling hall of fame

HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES-Former Athens High School wrestling coach Jerry “Buddha” Wagner, pictured above at left, and wrestling alumni Kraig Underwood, at right, were the first Athens wrestling hall of fame inductees last week.HALL OF FAME INDUCTION-Athens Wrestling club president Scott Roesler presents former Athens High School wrestling coach Jerry “Buddha” Wagner and wrestling alumni Kraig Underwood with their hall of fame plaques at last week Thursday's induction while school board member John Wagner looks on.
Wagner, Underwood are first inductees
"He [Coach Jerry Wagner] introduced us to that one signature move, the granby. So was it the granby that started Athens wrestling down that road of success? It is like the chicken and the egg thing. Was it the move, or the coach that taught and coached the move?” ~Athens wrestling alumni Brad Ellenbecker

The Athens Wrestling Club inducted its first members to the Athens High School wrestling hall of fame last week Thursday at the 2014 wrestling season home opener.
Former wrestling coach Jerry “Buddha” Wagner was the hall of fame’s first inductee and former wrestler Kraig Underwood was also inducted. Both were honored at a special program prior to the Athens dual meet with Chequamegon on Thursday.
Wrestling club president Scott Roesler said the the hall of fame was created to recognize and honor individuals who have made significant contributions to Athens wrestling since the program started in 1962.
“These individuals inspire our young athletes to achieve greatness of their own through hard work and dedication,” he said. “It is our goal to continue the great wrestling tradition, community support and to preserve the legacy of those who have done great things for Athens wrestling.”
Coach Wagner started the Athens wrestling program in 1962 and by the time he retired from coaching in 1995, he had produced 20 Marawood Conference championship teams, including 19 consecutive titles, six team state titles and four team state runners-up awards. Under Wagner’s direction, the Bluejays won more than 300 dual meets and had 28 WIAA individual state champions.
The coach turned the Athens wrestling program into a powerhouse in the 1980s and 90s, being ranked nationally in the early 90s and was ranked number two in the country in 1994 by USA Wrestling Magazine.
Wagner himself was named the Wisconsin Wrestling Coaches Association District #2 coach of the year award six times and in 1985 was awarded Wrestling USA Magazine’s “Man of the Year.” In 1986 he was inducted into the George Martin Hall of Fame and in 2001 was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Following Wagner’s induction Roesler announced a second inductee would be honored.
“The year 2015 marks the 20-year anniversary of another Athens wrestling milestone,” Roesler said. “On Feb. 25, 1995, Kraig Underwood accomplished the most impressive feat in Athens wrestling history and became the second person in WIAA history to win four state individual titles.”
Underwood posted a high school career record of 171-7, won four individual WIAA state titles in 1992 at 103 pounds, 1993 at 112 pounds, 1994 at 119 pounds and 1995 at 125 pounds.

The Wrestling Club will continue the hall of fame and said nominations can be made by obtaining a nomination form from any Wrestling Club board member. Nominations will be accepted until Oct. 1 and the club will make it’s selection in October. Nominees must be at least 35 years of age and have made significant contributions to wrestling at Athens High School. A formal induction will take place at the first varsity wrestling home match of each season and each inductee will have a nameplate added to the Athens Wrestling Hall of Fame plaque, which will be located in the Athens High School trophy case.

To read the full story about the Athens Hall of Fame induction, pick up the Dec. 17, 2014, issue of The Record-Review or subscribe online at

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