Chuck Patten became Head Coach of the UNI wrestling team in 1965. By the end of his eighteen years here, he had racked up 217 wins and only 87 losses, coached fifty-eight All-Americans and sixteen national champions, and produced two championship teams.
In eleven of his eighteen years at UNI, his teams placed in the top three at the Division II national championships.
Team Placing at National Championships
1st Place (2) - 1975, 1978
2nd Place (4) - 1970, 1972, 1974, 1980
3rd Place (5) - 1967, 1969, 1976, 1977, 1979
4th Place (1) - 1973
7th Place (1) - 1971
8th Place (1) - 1968
10th Place (2) - 1966, 1982*
12th Place (1) - 1981*
Did not place - 1965
* NCAA Division I
From 1964 through 1978, UNI participated in the North Central Conference (NCC) championships. While Patten coached the Panthers, the team won ten NCC championships and placed second all the remaining years.
NCC Team Placing
1st Place (10) - 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978
2nd Place (4) - 1965, 1966, 1970, 1973
Outstanding wrestlers during this period included three-time national champions Gary Bentrim and Kirk Myers. Bentrim placed first in Division II national tournaments in 1976, 1977, and 1978, while Myers placed first in 1978, 1979, and 1980. By Myers's senior year, he was also the only wrestler to have won thirty or more matches in four years of competition.
Two-time national champions during Coach Patten's reign included Don Parker, who won in 1966 and 1967, and Kent Osboe in 1968 and 1969. In 1974 and 1975, both Jim Miller and Ken Snyder placed first.
One-time national Division II champions under Patten included Clint Young (1971), Tom Garcia (1974), Randy Omvig (1975), Keith Poolman (1978), and Ken Gallagher (1980). Mike McCready, 1972 national champion, also won the gold medal at the 1975 Pan American Games.
The Beginning of an Era: 1965
Patten's first season at UNI was a losing season. The team finished with a 2-8-1 record, beating Luther and Cornell, and tying South Dakota State. They failed to place as a team at the NCAA national tournament and did not have any individual wrestlers place. Although this season was a disappointment, it began a climb toward national recognition. This first year was also Patten's only losing season in his eighteen years as a UNI coach.
The following season, the team placed only tenth at the NCAA Division II tournament. But, Don Parker (pictured to the right) won the championship title at 177 pounds and Dave Steinkamp placed sixth at 160.
By the 1967 season, the team was coming together for Patten. That year the team won the North Central Conference, placed third at the Division II tournament, and had three wrestlers place in their divisions. Don Parker again won the title at 177 pounds, while Jerry Bond at 137 and Kent Osboe at heavyweight both placed second. Parker went on to the Division I tournament and placed sixth.
In 1968, UNI again won the NCC tournament, but with six champions. The champs included Jerry Bond (145), Tom Horton (160), Kent Osboe (hwt), Jim Kinyon (123), Marv Reiland (130), and Jim Guyer (167). Osboe also won the trophy for the most falls in the least amount of time. A second place winner at the meet was Dan Mashek at 191 (shown on the left in the photo below).
This meet qualified more than eleven wrestlers for the NCAA Division II national tournament. Only Kent Osboe (shown on the right in the photo) at 145 pounds won the title for his division. Jerry Bond placed fourth at 145 pounds. Although both Osboe and Bond qualified for the Division I national tournament, neither athlete placed in the competition.
The 1969 season was just as successful. Earlier in the season, Kent Osboe (hwt) and Skip Bellock (167) won titles at the AAU wrestling meet. The team then took home the NCC title for the third straight year and had four individual champions: Marv Reiland (130), Jim Guyer (160), Skip Bellock (167), and Kent Osboe (hwt). Second place winners at the tournament included Brad Stolz (145) and Clint Young (152). At this tournament, Osboe won the pinner's trophy and was chosen the most valuable wrestler.
At the Division II tournament in March, the team placed an impressive third and had four wrestlers place in the top three: Osboe (hwt) first place, Reiland (130) second place, and Jim Guyer (160) third place. Vince Bellock also placed sixth at 167 pounds. Reiland and Osboe participated in the Division I tournament as well. They both placed sixth in their divisions.
In just his fifth season as head coach, Patten was named NCAA College Division Coach of the Year in 1969.
1970 was the year of second place finishes. In March the team lost the NCC tournament to Mankato by one point, but Clint Young, Mike Allen, and Mike McCready won titles in their weight divisions. Later that same month, UNI placed second in the NCAA Division II tournament behind California-Poly. Although UNI did not have any champions that year, five wrestlers did place: Vince Bellock (167) second place, Bob Boeck (177) and Mike McCready (hwt) third place, and Marv Reiland (134) and Clint Young (158) fourth place. After this event, Coach Patten was elected President of the NCAA College Division of the Wrestling Coaches Association.
UNI was again successful at winning the NCC tournament in 1971. As hosts of the event, they had five champions, two second place finishers, and three third place winners.
1971 NCC Championship Team.
The five champions are pictured above in the front row, along with their teammates. They are, from left to right, Randy Omvig (190), Dave Pike (134), Mike McCready (hwt), Dave Nicol (118), and Mike Meador (150). The second place winners at the meet were Mike Ott (167) and Bob Boeck (177). The three third place winners were Jon Moeller (126), Mark Fox (142), and Clint Young (158). At the NCAA Division II tournament, Clint Young won the title for his weight and Randy Omvig placed fifth. As a team, UNI placed seventh.
To end the year, Coach Patten was again elected President of the NCAA College Division of the Wrestling Coaches Association.
In 1972, six champions helped UNI win the NCC crown: Mike McCready (see photo to the left), Mike Meador, Vern Allison, Jon Moeller, Mark Fox, and Joe Hatchett (see photo to the right). Other place winners were Bob Boeck at second place and Jim Miller at third.
Eight wrestlers went to the Division II national tournament and competed well. They boosted UNI to a second place finish behind California-Poly. Mike McCready won the title at heavyweight, while Joe Hatchett placed second, Mark Fox fourth, and Jon Moeller fifth in their divisions. McCready and Hatchett also qualified to compete at the Division I tournament later in the month. There, McCready placed third in his division.
The following year brought another rare second place finish at the NCC meet for the wrestling team. Four wrestlers placed at the tournament, including two champions. Jim Miller and Randy Omvig took home titles in their weight divisions, while Vern Allison and Dave Nicol both placed second. At the NCAA Division II tournament, Ken Snyder placed second at 142 pounds and qualified for the Division I tournament.
1974 was a very successful season for the Panthers. UNI won the NCC with five champions, two second place finishers, and one third. The champions included:
- Tom Garcia (126)
- Jim Miller (134)
- Jim Blasingame (150)
- Dan Keller (167)
- Randy Omvig (hwt)
Second place finishers were Ken Snyder (142) and Tim Balvanz (158). The third place winner was Jay Moeller (190). UNI placed second at the NCAA Division II tournament behind California-Poly. Individual champions included Tom Garcia at 126 pounds, Jim Miller at 134 pounds and Ken Snyder at 142 pounds. Others who placed were Dan Keller (167) and Randy Omvig (hwt) at fourth place, and Dave Cunningham (118) and Dick Erickson (177) at sixth place. Miller and Snyder went on to place second and third, respectively, at the Division I tournament.
1975 - Championship Year
The 1975 wrestling team had an outstanding season. They first won the NCC tournament with a record 154 points. Champions at the meet were: Randy Omvig, Ken Snyder, Dave Cunningham, Jim Miller, Jim Blasingame, and Dan Keller. Others who added points to the record were second place winner Dick Erickson, third place winners Jon Boganstas and Cas Ingram, and for fourth place Dick Briggs. Snyder was also named outstanding wrestler of the tournament.
Randy Omvig became the only man
to win four successive NCC crowns.
For the second time in school history, UNI won the NCAA Division II tournament. Their top rival for the championship in past years, California-Poly, had moved up to Division I wrestling, leaving UNI to be ranked number one coming in. For a complete look at this championship, choose the following:
Coach Patten with nine returning lettermen. First row (l-r): Patten,
Tom Garcia, Ken Snyder, Jim Miller, and Dave Cunningham. Second row:
Gary Meyers, Dick Erickson, Randy Omvig, Dan Keller, and Jim Blasingame.
At the Division I tournament, Jim Miller placed fourth at 134 pounds and Ken Snyder fifth at 142 pounds.
Although the Panthers again won the NCC championship, they were not able to hold on to the NCAA Division II title in 1976. At the NCC, Gary Bentrim (142), Jim Blasingame (150), Keith Poolman (167), and Dan Keller (177) placed first in their divisions. Second place finishers were Dave Cunningham (118) and Jon Bagenstos (126). Others who placed included Dick Briggs and Bob Leonard at third and Bruce McClure at fourth.
The Panthers dropped to third place at the NCAA Division II tournament. The only two wrestlers to place were Gary Bentrim in first and Dan Keller in second.
This year also marked the opening of the UNI-Dome on campus as a new location for wrestling meets. Previously, meets were held in the smaller West Gymnasium.
Opening night at the Dome, February 7, 1976.
The UNI wrestlers placed in all but one weight division at the 1977 NCC championship tournament. Eight of those also placed in the top three.
UNI hosted the NCAA Division II tournament in 1977. UNI placed third in the event and had seven wrestlers place in the top six. Gary Bentrim (see photo to the right) was the only champion at 142 pounds. Other place-winners included Dick Briggs and Keith Poolman at fourth, Jeff Melvin at fifth, and Dave Prehm, Scott Kollings, and Ed Herman at sixth.
1978 - Championship Year
1978 was another championship year for the Panthers. In February the team won the NCC for the fifth straight year. Nine wrestlers placed at this competition, including three champions.
1978 NCC Tournament Placing
- 1st Place: Dave Prehm (118), Gary Bentrim (158), Kirk Myers (190)
- 2nd Place: Kevin Finn (134), Keith Poolman (167), Joe Gormally (177)
- 3rd Place: Mike Wood (142), Bob Kniff (hwt)
- 4th Place: Dick Briggs (150)
Gary Bentrim also won his third consecutive NCC title at that event.
The NCAA Division II championship tournament was again hosted by UNI. For the third time in the school's history, UNI won the Division II title. For more information on this historic win, choose the following:
Kirk Myers, who placed first at 190 in the Division II tournament, also placed sixth at the Division I meet.
1979 marked the first time the Mid-Central Conference meet was held. Although UNI placed second, four Panther wrestlers earned titles and nine qualified for the national tournament. The champions included Keith Poolman (167), Ken Gallagher (150), Joe Gormally (177), and Kirk Myers (190). Second place finishers were Tony Wesseley (118), Kirk Sallis (126), and Kevin Finn (134). Larry Luttrell (142) and Kevin Kurth (hwt) both placed third.
UNI placed third at the NCAA Division II tournament. The only Panther wrestler to earn a title was Kirk Myers (right) at 190 pounds. However, seven others earned All-American status by placing in their divisions.
- Kirk Myers (190) - 1st Place
- Joe Gormally (177) - 2nd Place
- Ken Gallagher (150) - 3rd Place
- Kevin Finn (134) - 4th Place
- Keith Poolman (167) - 4th Place
- Kevin Kurth (hwt) - 5th Place
- Larry Luttrell (142) - 6th Place
Kirk Myers and Joe Gormally qualified for the Division I tournament, where they placed third and fourth respectively.
1980 was another year of second place finishes. UNI placed second at both the Mid-Central Conference meet and the NCAA Division II tournament. Brent Hagen (126), Ken Gallagher (150), and Efonda Sproles (177) all took home titles from the Mid-Central competition. Place winners at the NCAA tournament were: Ken Gallagher and Kirk Myers first place, Brent Hagen and Efonda Sproles second place, and Dion Cobb and Kevin Kurth sixth place.
Three wrestlers were top placers at the Division I Regional Qualifying Tournament in March 1981. Ken Gallagher, Doug Tredway, and Jay Llewellyn were all champions. Dion Cobb, Efonda Sproles, Joe Gormally, and John Kriebs all placed third. Although all seven wrestlers qualified for the Division I tournament, only two placed at the event. Ken Gallagher placed fifth at 142 and Dion Cobb placed fourth at 158.
Joe Gormally (top) controls his opponent.
The 1982 season was Patten's final year coaching at UNI. The team won the Midwest Regional crown, with three champions, four second place winners,and one third. At the NCAA Division I tournament, Kirk Myers placed fifth at 190, and both Joe Gormally (177) and Ken Gallagher (142) placed seventh. Myers received the most valuable performer award as well.
Before the season closed, Patten was named NCAA Midwest Coach of the Year for the second time in his career.
Ken Gallagher (top) moves into position in a 1981 match.
Coach Patten retired after the 1982 season and turned the team over to his assistant, Don Briggs.
Compiled by Library Assistant Susan A. Basye, September 1997; last updated, January 14, 2014 (GP).