A Legacy of Champions:

The Story of Wrestling at Bloomsburg University

A wrestling match in Centennial Gym, 1964.

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        The story of wrestling at Bloomsburg University is one marked by great accomplishment.  Over the years the Huskies have won 18 team titles, and had 15 individual wrestlers earn Division I All-American status.  But the success did not come all at once.  The first team in 1930 won only one of six matches, and it would be seven more years until another team competed.  Over the next three years the wrestlers won only two of thirteen dual meets, and the sport was again suspended.

        It began once more in January of 1955, and this time wrestling would achieve its full potential.  Jack Yohe and Walter Blair compiled a record of 12-12 in the first three seasons, but in May of 1957 Russ Houk was hired, and he produced immediate results.  In his second season the team lost only one of ten matches and won the first Pennsylvania State Conference wrestling title in school history.  From 1959 to 1965 Houk's teams won five conference championships, three National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics titles, and had three wrestlers earn All-American status.  During these years they compiled a dual meet record of 75 - 6 - 1, the most successful period in school history.  Russ Houk continued as head coach for a total of 14 seasons, during which time his teams won 80% of their meets, and 142 in all.  He was also a member of the United States Olympic Wrestling Committee, and served as manager of the 1972 and 1976 Olympic freestyle teams.

        Roger Sanders became coach in 1972, and he led the Huskies for 21 seasons and to 250 wins in dual meets.  He continued the winning tradition that Russ Houk had begun, with eight Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference and two Eastern Wrestling League titles.  But his greatest success may have been with his individual champions.  In 1974 Floyd "Shorty" Hitchcock became the first NCAA Division I National Champion in the school's history, and from 1985-1987 Ricky Bonomo was a three-time National Champion.  In all Sanders coached nine wrestlers to All-American status.
        Over the last decade the Huskies have had two more All-Americans, and continue to strive to maintain the successful traditions of the past.  Entering the 2004-2005 season Bloomsburg's wrestling program has won 481 dual meets in 52 seasons, in addition to the numerous team and individual titles.  The program enjoys renown for its "Legacy of Champions," and this history celebrates that legacy.


The Early Years of Wrestling

The Golden '60s

Russ Houk's Legacy

Roger Sanders and Glory in the '80s

The '90s and Beyond

NCAA Division I All-Americans, 1963-1994


Created by Robert Dunkelberger, Bloomsburg University Archivist
and Kristen Sullivan, Archives student assistant

Please send comments on A Legacy of Champions to rdunkelb@bloomu.edu.


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Updated 1/19/05