Former Upper Iowa Wrestling Coach Dies

By K.J. Pilcher, Reporter


By Grant Burkhardt

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - A successful coach in Upper Iowa's wrestling history has died.

Upper Iowa annoucned Monday that former head wrestling coach Mike Olson died Friday. He was 76 years old and had battled lung cancer.

Olson led the Peacocks from 1966-71, winning four Iowa Conference titles. He was named IIAC Coach of the Year four times. He coached Steve Exline, Dave Sanger, and Craig Campbell to national titles. Exline won twice. Olson was inducted into the Upper Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame in 2007.

Below is the news release from Upper Iowa:

Former Upper Iowa Head Wrestling Coach and Hall of Famer Passes Away

Former Upper Iowa Head Wrestling Coach Mike Olson, a 2007 inductee into the Upper Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame, passed away Friday morning, July 12, in Monmouth, Ill., after a long battle with cancer. He was 76 years old.

Olson was a professor and coach at Upper Iowa from 1966 to 1971. Olson had an outstanding five years as head wrestling coach leading the Peacocks' dominant team to four-consecutive Iowa Conference titles in 1968, 1969, 1970, and 1971. His wrestling team qualified each year for the NAIA National Tournament. The 1971 team won the District 15 Championship that finished fourth in the nation and finished fifth at the 1969 National NAIA tournament. The 1968 team participated in the NCAA Division II tournament finishing eighth (tied with UNI).

Olson was named the Iowa Conference Coach of the Year four times while at Upper Iowa with a total of 21 conference or district honors. While at Upper Iowa he coached four national champions including Steve Exline, twice, Dave Sanger, and Craig Campbell; all of whom are Hall of Fame members themselves. Olson was inducted into the NAIA Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame in 1984, Jamestown College Hall of Fame in 2000 and the UNC Pembroke Hall of Fame in 2008. He participated in cultural exchanges in wrestling taking teams to Japan, Korea, the People's Republic of China and England.

Olson retired after a 41-year career with a 428-96 dual meet record. During his tenure he produced 61 All-Americans and 8 National Championships at six collegiate institutions including UIU. He also was the head football coach for the Peacocks for three years.

A graduate of Washburn High School in Minneapolis, Minn., he earned a B.S. degree in 1959 from Coe College and a M.S.E. in 1964 from Wayne State College.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking the donations be made the college of the donor's choice. Hoover-Hall Memorial Chapel in Monmouth, Ill. is handling the arraignments.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Friday, July 19, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the family home located at 910 East Euclid Avenue, Monmouth. Cremation rites have been accorded.

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