|STILLWATER, Okla. – Seven individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the sport of wrestling will be inducted into the Oklahoma Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, it was announced Friday.
Dale Estep, Tony Macias, Greg Newell, Darren Peaster and Nick Williams were chosen for Lifetime Service to Wrestling, while John Henry Ward will receive the Outstanding American award and Larry Tettleton will be presented the Medal of Courage honor.
The Lifetime Service to Wrestling award is awarded annually to coaches, officials and contributors who have given a minimum of 20 years of service to wrestling. The Outstanding American honor is given to former wrestlers who are highly successful and use the disciplines learned in wrestling in their profession and the Medal of Courage is presented to a wrestler or former wrestler who has overcome what appear to be insurmountable obstacles.
The seven new honorees will be inducted during a banquet set for Sunday, Oct. 14 at what was formerly the Jim Thorpe Museum and Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame at 4040 North Lincoln in Oklahoma City. A reception begins at 3 p.m., with dinner at 4 p.m. and the induction ceremony at 5 p.m.
2018 HONOREE BIOS:
Dale Estep was a two-time state champion wrestler at Geary High School and competed collegiately at Adams State for two years before returning to the state to attend Southwestern Oklahoma, where he graduated. He took over as head coach at Noble High School in 1968 and held that post for 22 years, racking up an impressive 223-38 dual record. Estep’s teams had 15 top-10 state tournament finishes and he coached 12 state champions along with 21 All-Staters. In all, he spent 34 years at Noble as a coach, teacher and athletic director. Estep also served a long stint as a state coordinator for the International Wrestling Exchange program that brought teams from Japan, New Zealand, Germany and Poland to Oklahoma.
Tony Macias was a four-time state qualifier at long-time powerhouse Perry High School in the late 1950s, finishing with a 62-8-1 career record and winning one state championship before going to Oklahoma. He earned All-America honors as a sophomore and helped lead the Sooners to the 1960 national title, but injuries cut short his career. Macias began a long coaching career while still attending OU, starting the Noble High School program in 1960 before going on to coach at Guthrie High School and Southeast High School He led Southeast to one state championship and two state runner-up finishes, then left in 1972 to coach at Southwest Oregon Community College. Macias spent one year there, leading SWOCC to their first-ever winning season and a 14th-place national finish before returning to Perry to open a restaurant that he ran for the next 44 years before his death in 2017. Macias helped with the Perry youth wrestling program for decades, including taking several teams to Mexico City to compete.
Greg Newell grew up in Kansas and graduated college from Bethany College in the state before starting a 25-year coaching career. He got his coaching start in Larned, Kansas and was there for seven years, then moved to Durant, Oklahoma in 1980. Newell started the school’s physical education program in 1982 and worked as a wrestling official for four years before returning to coaching in 1986 when he began both the junior high and high school wrestling programs at Durant. He went on to coach in Durant for 18 years before his retirement, building a competitive program that resulted in dozens of former wrestlers going on to become coaches themselves. Newell still works closely with Durant wrestling, including serving as radio broadcaster for the team.
Darren Peaster enjoyed a productive career on the mat, finishing as a three-time state placer at Claremore High School in addition to earning All-America honors at both Northeastern Oklahoma A&M and Central Oklahoma. Peaster graduated from UCO in 1987 and spent three years as an assistant coach with the Bronchos before going into the high school ranks. He was an assistant for two years at Ponca City and four at Choctaw, helping the Yellowjackets capture a pair of dual state titles and two state tournament championships. He took over as Putnam City High School’s head coach in 1996 and was there two years before going to Catoosa High School, where he spent 11 years. Peaster guided Catoosa to two dual state crowns and a couple of state tournament championships in earning Coach of the Year honors twice and in 2007 he was a finalist for the National High School Coach of the Year award. Peaster racked up 254 career wins, coaching one four-time state champion and several three-time winners before retiring from coaching in 2013, though he still serves as director of student services at Catoosa.
Nick Williams was a three-time state placer in high school, winning a state title as a senior, and then was a three-year letterman at Oklahoma State in the mid-1990s before embarking on a lengthy coaching career that continues today. He spent one year at Mangum and six at Madill before taking over the Altus High School program in 2004. Williams’ teams have won 14 district titles and five regional championships and he’s had seven top-four state tournament teams, including a pair of runners-up. He has coached 20 state champions, 19 All-State participants and 11 high school All-Americans in compiling a 223-78 dual record. Williams has served as vice president of the Oklahoma Wrestling Coaches Association in addition to coaching in the All-State dual.
John Henry Ward was a 1965 state champion for Tulsa Rogers High School and then was a rare two-sport collegiate All-American at Oklahoma State. He was a two-time Big Eight champion and placed third in the national tournament in 1969 for the Cowboys, then earned All-America honors on the gridiron that fall at defensive tackle. Ward was a first-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings in 1970 and played on two Super Bowl teams during a six-year career in the NFL. Ward spent much of his adult life dedicated to public service, including a 13-year stint as Executive Director of the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma. He also served 10 years as Executive Vice President of the Poultry Federation of Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Ward, a member of both the OSU Athletics Hall of Fame and the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, died in 2012 after a battle with cancer.
Larry Tettleton was born with limited physical abilities on his right side and saw very limited action on the mat, but his contributions to the sport are substantial. Larry’s disability hasn’t affected his positive attitude, his enthusiasm for teaching and coaching or his motivational skills in getting the best out of those he comes in contact with. Tettleton got involved in wrestling as a junior high manager and continued in that role throughout high school and college, where he helped Central Oklahoma to the 1992 NCAA Division II national championship. Larry became an assistant coach at Edmond North High School in 1994 and in 12 years during three stints as an assistant coach there helped the Huskies to an 86-41-2 dual record and the 2013 state championship. He has also spent 11 years as head junior high coach in Edmond, having compiled an impressive 130-23 dual record with eight conference championships, two state titles and one Oklahoma Junior High Coach of the Year award. Tettleton has coached 15 individual state champions, nine high school All-Americans – including two champions – and two collegiate national champions. Larry decided to expand his involvement with wrestling in 2012 when he became an official. He’s quickly became one of the best in working local, regional and national events and in 2016 was selected Oklahoma USA Official of the Year. Tettleton was named recipient of the “Champion of Character” award by the Edmond City Council in 2013.
America’s shrine to the sport of wrestling, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum was founded as a nonprofit organization in 1976 to honor the sport of wrestling, preserve its history, recognize extraordinary individual achievements, and inspire future generations. The National Wrestling Hall of Fame has museums in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and Waterloo, Iowa. The Stillwater, Oklahoma, location reopened in June 2016 following a $3.8 million renovation and now features interactive exhibits and electronic kiosks, as well as the opportunity to watch NCAA Championship matches from the 1930s to present day. It also has the John T. Vaughan Hall of Honors where the greatest names in wrestling are recognized, including iconic granite plaques presented to Distinguished Members since the Hall of Fame opened in 1976. The museum has the largest collection of wrestling artifacts and memorabilia in the world, including the most collegiate and Olympic wrestling uniforms. Wrestling truly is for everyone and the diversity and accessibility of the sport continues to be highlighted through exhibits featuring females, African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Latino Americans. There is also a library featuring historical documents, including NCAA guides and results, as well as books on the sport.
For more information about the Hall of Fame, please visit www.NWHOF.or