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Les Anderson Honored
November 15, 2010, 6:29 pm
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Excel Wrestling Honors Legendary Iowa State Coach Les Anderson 

Excel Wrestling held its 14th Excel Tribute Dinner this past Sunday in Central Iowa.  Inducted into the Excel “Hall of Heroes” was legendary Iowa State coach Les Anderson.  Anderson joins the ranks of Rulon Gardner, Brandon Slay, Lincoln McIlravy, Terry Steiner, Kevin Jackson, Larry Nugent, Mike McArthur, Arno Niemand, Eric Swanson, Henry Cejudo and others.  Anderson was the 16th inductee overall.

The award is given each year based on courage, character and commitment to wrestling and life.  Anderson touched the lives of Cyclone wrestlers for more than three decades en route to six NCAA National Championship teams from 1965 to 1987.  He and Head Coach Harold Nichols formed one of the most successful coaching tandems in NCAA Wrestling history.   

Steve Knight, Excel Wrestling’s Head Coach, who wrestled for Anderson in the late ‘80’s and coached along side him for two seasons had this to say, “Les was one of the best coaches I ever had.  His technique in every position was flawless and especially his ability to ride and pin was exceptional!  He was a guy you wanted to work for, you wanted to win for.  He was more than a coach, definitely a father figure to all of us who were fortunate enough to be coached by him.  It was an honor to recognize him today at our Tribute Dinner.”

As a wrestler for ISU from 1958-60, Anderson, a native of Clarion, Iowa, was a three-time All-American, two-time national champion and two-time Big Eight champion at 130 and 137 pounds. Anderson was Nichols’ first NCAA champion in 1958, winning the 130-pound NCAA title. He was the NCAA runner-up at 130 pounds in 1959 and closed out his senior year by winning the 1960 137-pound NCAA title. ISU was runner-up national champions in all three of Anderson’s seasons as a wrestler.

After graduation, Anderson coached at the prep level for four years before returning to Iowa State in 1964.  As an assistant from 1964-74, Anderson and Nichols coached ISU to five NCAA team titles, three second-place finishes and tutored 20 individual national champions and 47 All-Americans.

Anderson, who earned both his BS and MS degrees from Iowa State, left ISU in 1974 to become the head wrestling coach at Washington. He mentored the Huskies until 1978 and then returned to his alma mater to assist the Cyclones again. His second stint as an ISU assistant was from 1979-92, helping Iowa State win another NCAA team title in 1987 and tutoring 14 individual national champions. ISU wrestlers earned All-America honors 67 times from 1979-92. He spent his final two years at ISU in 1993 and 1994 as a compliance director and athletic coordinator. Anderson was named Amateur Wrestling News Assistant Coach of the Year in 1985.

He was one of the first coaches to implement summer wrestling clinics, a concept that became the norm. For seven years he was on the Board of Directors for the National Wrestling Coaches Association and helped initiate the first annual coaches convention. He served as director of five NCAA and one AAU National tournaments and participated in the formation of the United States Wrestling Federation, serving three years on the Board of Directors of USA Wrestling.

He was inducted into the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1984 and was a 2004 inductee to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Anderson commented, “I am flattered with the award.  It was a pleasure to be a part of this and see what Steve and his board have been building on the high school level.  It was great to see him and so many past Cyclones attend the event today.  I am grateful!”

 Cyclone wrestlers came in from all parts of the country.  Former NCAA Champion and longtime US Naval Academy Coach Reg Wicks attended the event as well as ISU All American Jim Duschen, who now coaches in Las Vegas, NV.

 Les Anderson continues to be active in the sport with his creation of and websites geared toward youth and high school wrestlers who are searching for the right college fit for their wrestling careers.


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