Illini Legends, Lists and Lore: Coaching success in wrestling

Illini Legends, Lists and Lore: Coaching success in wrestling

Seventeen years ago today — Jan. 28, 2001 — Mark Johnson became the winningest Illinois wrestling coach ever, defeating 17th-ranked Penn State, 32-3. It was his 101st dual meet coaching victory at Illinois in nine years, one win more than B.R. "Pat" Patterson compiled during his 18 seasons with the Illini. Johnson won nearly 70 percent of Illinois' Big Ten duals and finished among the conference tournament's top four placers 11 times.

Here is how each of Illinois' 14 head wrestling coaches have fared:

— R.N. Fargo (1911): The university's first wrestling coach, his 1911 squad lost its only match, 2-1, at Indiana.

— A. Elston (1912-13): Elston coached for two seasons, winning Illinois' first-ever Big Ten title in 1913.

— T. Paulsen (1914): He coached only one season, winning his squad's only dual meet and placing fourth at the Big Ten Championships.

— Walter Evans (1915-17): Illinois' fourth coach lasted three seasons and led his final team to a conference title.

— Paul Prehn (1919-28): Prehn guided the Illini through nine seasons, winning an Illinois record six Big Ten crowns. His teams won 42 of 47 dual meets, including a record of 40-4 versus conference competition.

— Harold "Hek" Kenney (1928-43, '47): Through 17 seasons of coaching the Illini, his squads won a total of five conference titles. In 71 dual meets against Big Ten teams, Kenney's teams won nearly 79 percent of the time.

— Glenn Law (1943-46, '48-50): Law directed Illinois to a Big Ten championship in his third season and victories in 75 percent of his team's Big Ten dual meet matches. His '46 and '47 squads placed third at the NCAA meet.

— B.R. "Pat" Patterson (1950-68): His early teams fared well at the NCAA championships, placing sixth three times, and eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh once. Patterson's second squad (1952) won the Big Ten crown and finished among the top five in the league nine other times in 18 total seasons at Illinois.

— Jack Robinson (1968-73): Robinson's teams never finished better than eighth at the Big Ten Championships and won only eight of UI's 35 conference dual meets.

Illini Birthdays:

Sunday: Marcus Arnold, basketball (34)

Monday: Rich McBride, basketball (33)

Tuesday: Josh Brent, football (30)

Wednesday (left): Leron Black, basketball (22)

Thursday (right): Glenn Collier, football (68)

Friday: Ken Dilger, football (47)

Saturday: Lonnie Perrin, football (65)

 By Mike Pearson, author of Illini Legends, Lists & Lore (Third Edition now available in stores). Get more Illini birthdays, trivia and historical tidbits daily on Twitter @IlliniLegends and @B1GLLL. His website is