Wrestling at UNI, 1923-1997

UNI's first wrestling squad.

 "First Wrestling Team," 1923, in the University of Northern Iowa, Old Gold 1923, University Archives, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa.


In 1923, the first intercollegiate wrestling team in UNI's history took to the mat.  Although this green team competed in only one meet, a successful 16-8 victory over Cornell, they had started a winning tradition that has carried on throughout the years.  The Panthers have recorded 580 victories since that first year, with only twelve losing seasons.

Wrestling match in the West Gym, 1979.


Citation: "Early Wrestling Match," undated, in the University of Northern Iowa Photograph Collections #29, box: ATH 2-5 Early 14 - 1979/80 folder: ATH 2-5 Early, University Archives, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa.


The UNI wrestling team had six head coaches and two temporary coaches from 1923 through 1997.  Four of the head coaches, McCuskey, Koll, Patten, and Briggs, were alumni, and three, McCuskey, Koll, and Patten, wrestled for the school while earning their degrees.  Choose one of the following to read a short biographical sketch of the coach:

Paul Bender
David McCuskey
Clyde "Buck" ​Starbeck (1943 temporary coach)
Bill Koll
Ed Lyons (1958 temporary coach)
Chuck Patten
Don Briggs

Historical Look at UNI Wrestling

For the history of UNI wrestling for a certain time period or under a particular coach, click on one of the following:

1923-1930 Coach Paul Bender

1931-1952 Coach Dave McCuskey

1953-1964 Coach Bill Koll

1965-1982 Coach Chuck Patten

1983-1997 Coach Don Briggs

Season Records, 1923-1997

The UNI Panther wrestling team has recorded 580 wins and 269 losses from the time the sport began here in 1923 through 1997.  Click below to see a detailed outline of season records:

Season Records 1923-1997

NCAA Championships

The UNI Panthers placed first at the NCAA Championships in 1950, 1975, and 1978.  To learn more about these victories click on one of the following:

National Champions

Forty-two wrestlers have been named national champions after placing first at the NCAA Championships. Choose one of the following for a list of UNI's best:


UNI's 113 All-Americans each placed in the top eight at the NCAA Championships. Many of them are also two-, three-, and even four-time All-Americans, having placed in more than one championship. Click below to see a list of these top wrestlers:

UNI All-American Wrestlers

All-Academic Team

1991 was the first year of the National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Academic Team.  Choose the following to learn about these outstanding student athletes:

All-Academic Team

Olympic and Pan American Games

Five UNI wrestlers have had the honor of participating in the Olympic Games or the Pan American Games.  Click below to learn about these world competitive wrestlers:

Olympic and Pan American Game Winners



Page initially created by Student Assistant Jonathan Russell and Library Assistant Susan A. Basye, May 1997; last updated, January 14, 2014 (GP)