AUSTIN — Former Grand Rapids High School wrestler and coach, and a long-time area wrestling official, Don Kuusinen, will be among nine people who will be inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Minnesota Chapter during a banquet on April 25.
The Hall of Fame announces the induction of Bud Heidgerken as their Outstanding American from Minnesota. Brian Bakke will receive the State Medal of Courage Award from Minnesota. Honorees for the Lifetime Service Award are Kuusinen, Tom Beyer, Mary Davis, Larry Goodnature, Mark Jensen, Bill Schmidt, and the late Father Otto Weber.
The banquet will be held on Saturday, April 25, 2020, at the Austin Holiday Inn Conference Center, right off I-90, Exit 178A. The reception will begin at 2 p.m. and a silent auction will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. The banquet and induction ceremonies will begin at 3 p.m. Register online at mn-nwhof.ticketleap.com.
State chapter inductees are permanently honored at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Museum in Stillwater, Okla. View all National Wrestling Hall of Fame – Minnesota Chapter inductees online at nwhof.org/minnesota.
Don Kuusinen (Grand Rapids, Minn.) – Official/Coach
Don Kuusinen gave 50 years of his life as an official while also coaching 34 of those years. At one time at Grand Rapids High School, Don coached future NCAA national champion Jim Kamman (Michigan) and three-time All-American Dave Allen (Iowa State). As a competitor, he was fourth in the one class system for his hometown of Grand Rapids. He wrestled at the University of Minnesota and the University of North Dakota. He served as MWCA president, is a member of the Grand Rapids High School, and Grand Rapids Wrestling Halls of Fame. A long-time math teacher at Grand Rapids High School, he started his officiating career in his hometown gymnasium and ended it 50 years later in his hometown gym.
Bud Heidgerken (Freeport, Minn.)
Bud served three terms as a Minnesota State House Legislator from 2004-2010. He was selected as Minnesota School Board Association Legislator of the Year in 2008 and Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council Legislator of the Year in 2006. Bud owned Charlie’s Café in Freeport, Minn. for 29 years, one of the most popular cafés along I-94. Bud started the wrestling program at Brooten, Minn., and was a very successful coach.
Brian Bakke (East Grand Forks, Minn.)
Brian has battled Cystic Fibrosis, a progressive, genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system, since he was two years old. Brian was a successful high school wrestler and a Minnesota tennis state champion. He has officiated wrestling for 27 years, including 17 state tournaments. Brian will be honored in his home area in Crookston, Minn. on November 23rd, 2019 at the Crookston Inn. Brian Bakke Induction Information/Tickets
Tom Beyer (Willmar, Minn.) – Coach
Tom Beyer was the University of Minnesota-Morris’ first-ever National Champion (NCAA III). He had a very successful 26-Year coaching career at Willmar Senior High School. Tom coached the Cardinals to 228 career wins, two state tournament teams, eight state finalists, of which six were individual state champions. He also coached at Ridgewater Community College for seven years producing several All-Americans, and his teams won MCC Junior College State and Regional Championships. Tom will be inducted in the 2019 Cougar Sports Hall of Fame at UM-Morris in September.
Mary Davis (Owatonna, Minn.) – Contributor
Mary Davis has given back to the sport of wrestling for 43 years. She has served the NWHOF-MN Chapter as Registration Chair Person for 17 straight banquets. Mary was selected as Wrestling USA Magazine’s “Coach’s Wife of the Year” in 1999. She also has received Owatonna Wrestling Association’s “OWA Service Award.” Mary served in various capacities for the OWA, including treasurer for 25 years. Mary’s life has been to serve others, including the church, the elderly, and physically challenged people.
Larry Goodnature (Albert Lea, Minn.) – Coach
Larry Goodnature has been an outstanding athlete and coach at Albert Lea. He won a Minnesota State title in 1971 and three NCAA DII All-American honors while at Mankato State University. Larry’s high school coaching record is 546-166, which ranks 10th all-time in Minnesota. A three-time State Coach of the Year, his teams had seven state dual meet appearances, including four state runner-up finishes, and a 3rd, 4th, and 6th place finish. Larry’s teams won seven Minnesota All-State Academic Championships. He coached 136 state entrants, 67 state place winners, and eight individual state champions.
Mark Jensen (Pierz, Minn.) – Coach
Mark Jensen has definitely left his mark on Pierz High School and the Pierz community for 38 years. His teams were state champions in 2004 and 2005, consolation champions in 2003 and 2006, and finished 6th in 1996 and 2002. Mark’s coaching record is 263-94-2. He was a two-time All-American in wrestling and a football standout at Concordia College. Mark is a Brainerd High School and Wrestling Hall of Fame member, a Concordia College Hall of Fame member in both wrestling and football, and an MWCA Minnesota-Dave Bartelma Hall of Fame member. He was a Minnesota State “Coach of the Year” in 2005. Mark is a gentleman and a great family man.
Bill Schmidt (Winona, Minn.) – Contributor/Coach
Bill Schmidt was a Minnesota state champion in the one-class system for Renville High School. He earned three All-American honors at while at Augsburg College. Bill has given back to the sport of wrestling for 42 years, 12 of those as the head coach at Winona High School. Bill coached 24 state individual qualifiers, 12 state place winners, and one individual state champion. He served as Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association Director for nine years and eight years as the Assistant Director. Bill also served on the NWHOF-MN Board of Directors and assists at the Bartelma Hall of Fame. Bill provides placemats for both the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association Bartelma and Mayo Civic Center Region 1 Halls of Fame.
Fr. Otto Weber (Posthumously) (St. John’s Prep & Univ., Collegeville, Minn.) – Contributor/Coach
The late Father Otto Weber organized summer sports camps for St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., for 27 Years. The St. John’s Wrestling Camp was the most popular in Minnesota for years. He also coached wrestling at St. John’s Prep for over 30 years. Father Otto replaced Terry Hawes at the 1972 MIAC Championships and St. John’s won the team title. He was a 1957 MIAC champion himself. The late Fr. Otto Weber will be inducted posthumously on November 24, 2019, At St. John’s University in Collegeville. Celebration for Fr. Otto Weber Information