OLIVIA — Perhaps the highest honor one can receive on the BOLD wrestling team is the Golden Shoes.
It’s a pair of old wrestling shoes painted gold. They belonged to Rick Squibb, who in 1979 won a state championship.
Squibb’s goal was to motivate future wrestlers in the program.
“It’s a really cool tradition here,” BOLD head coach Matt Zupke said. “I’ve gotten nice messages from other coaches about it saying they wish their program had something like this.
“For us, it’s a really big deal.”
The tradition has continued since 1979, but became more poignant earlier this spring with Squibb’s untimely death.
Squibb’s shoes have been passed onto 12 wrestlers since ‘79. The current recipient is Austin Kiecker, an eighth-grader who already has 70 career wins and made his first appearance this past season.
It’s awarded by the last recipient.
Zupke, a former BOLD wrestler, said it is one of the toughest decisions that athlete has to make while in the program. Coaches have no input.
It’s given, Zupke stated, to “wrestlers who demonstrate dedication, passion and pure love for the sport of wrestling. With the passing of the torch, or shoes as it were, these wrestlers share a little piece of history as they make their own.”
Zupke said Kiecker is an ideal recipient of the Golden Shoes. He’s extremely dedicated and with four years of high school wrestling left, could reach 200 career victories among other milestones.
How much does it mean to get the Golden Shoes? To honor Squibb and his family, Zupke wrote a lengthy report on the history of it, talking to a number of former wrestlers.
“When I received the Golden Shoes in 1993, I was honored,” said Jeff Mahoney, who kept the Golden Shoes from 1993-98. “I understood it meant the proud program of BOLD and the preceding programs of Bird Island-Lake Lillian and Olivia, felt that although I was small in stature, I was also mighty; someone that had fight and heart. Rick once told me that he saw himself in me.”
Squibb remained a BOLD supporter throughout the years, regularly attending meets and the state tournament each year.
“I was the kid who’d stay after junior high practice to finish working out with the varsity,” said Manuel Garcia, a 2016 graduate and two-time state champion. “I dreamt that I could be on varsity and one day become a state champion.
“My sophomore year, Brett Grund passed the Golden Shoes down to me. This meant that he, someone other than myself, believed I could win the state tournament. Once Brett said my name to be the next recipient, it made me happy because I know how important these shoes were to the program.”
Zupke looks forward to the 2020-21 season. There is some rebuilding to do. Six seniors graduate.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Zupke said. “Our numbers are good.”
Willmar’s Pat Curry is a member of a racing hall of fame in Fairmont, where he was a regular on the auto racing circuit in the 1950s and ‘60s.
Two Carthage College student-athletes with area ties have earned College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) Academic All-Conference honors. One is Sarah Schuldes of Willmar. The other is Sarah Schmidt of Darwin.
Schuldes is a sophomore on the men’s swimming and diving team. His best times were: 31.36 seconds in the 50-yard breaststroke; 4:50.62 in the 400 individual medley and 1:05.89 in the 100 breaststroke. He’s a physics/astronomy major.
Schmidt is a senior and graduate of Litchfield. She was named to the U.S. Track and Field Coaches Association All-Midwest Region team in the shot put and weight throw. She’s a biology major.
Long-time Willmar and Ridgewater coach Tom Beyer and Bill Schmidt of Renville have been inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Other inductees include Brian Bakke, Mary Davis, Larry Goodnature, Bud Heidgerken, Mark Jensen, Don Kuusinen and Fr. Otto Weber.
Beyer also was a standout at Morris High School and at the University of Minnesota-Morris, where he won a national title and is a member of the college’s athletic hall of fame.
Schmidt was a long-time coach and program contributor in Winona. He was a standout athlete at Renville High School and Augsburg.
The two will be honored Sept. 13 at the Austin Holiday Inn Conference Center. The program starts with a social hour at noon, a dinner and video at 1 p.m. and the induction ceremony at 2:30 p.m. The program was moved to Sept. 13 from April 25 because of restrictions from the coronavirus pandemic.
Ridgewater College has a new wrestling coach. He’s Joey Brown. Brown was head wrestling coach at Snohomish High School in Washington. Last season, he was named District 1 coach of the year, according to a Ridgewater press release.