Minnesota chapter welcomes its 2023 National Wrestling Hall of Fame Inductees

(ABC 6 News) — Saturday in Austin, ten new members of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame’s Minnesota chapter received their green jackets and their plaques, cementing their status as hall-of-famers as multiple inductees were honored for lifetime service.

“It’s a super honor,” Cindy Nelson, a 34-year volunteer for Kasson-Mantorville wrestling, said. “If anyone would’ve ever told me that I’d have been in any hall of fame, I would’ve told them they were crazy. We never did any of this for anything besides for the kids.”

The list had a healthy dose of coaches both current and former such as Mark Krier. Krier is an assistant coach for Zumbrota-Mazeppa and was also a three-time state champion wrestler at Plainview-Elgin-Millville. Longtime former Chatfield wrestling head coach Joel Viss, who led the Gophers to a 2014 state title, was also among the inductees.

“I guess the first thing I thought of too was, ‘I’m getting old!’,” Krier said. “But it was a very big honor, a huge honor when I got the call. It’s not just about me, it’s about a lot of people. It’s about a lot of people that got to this stage of my life.”

“I’m really thankful that the selection committee chose me,” Viss said. “I had an awful lot of help over the years and we built a lot of good relationships in the community and I’m really thankful for all those too.”

Referee Bill Olson was given his dues for 35 years of officiating. Olson, a Byron resident, started out wrestling for Leroy-Ostrander and has worked everything from high school to college, including a match involving Olympic gold medalist Gable Steveson.

“I had Gable Steveson in the dual team championship I think when he was in 10th grade,” Olson said. “They moved him up 215 to close out the match heavyweight… taking out a highly placing senior from another team.”

As they remember the journeys that led them to this point, their love for wrestling still shines. For those still active, they will carry this honor into the next season, proof the sport they love loves them back just as strongly.

“This area’s got great wrestling, it’s got great coaches, it’s got great fans, the things that we need to support great wrestling,” Krier said. “This area is very good at wrestling.”

Another nominee with Southeast ties includes Richard Saxlund, who served as Pipestone High’s head coach for 35 years. His coaching career began with two years at Leroy-Ostrander in the late 60s. For the full list of inductees, you can go to the website of the Hall of Fame’s Minnesota chapter.