March 1, 2007
By Trisha Poling, MSU Sports Information Student Assistant
The Michigan State wrestling program will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1967 National Championship team this weekend in conjunction with the Big Ten Championships held at the Breslin Center. The team will have a reunion Friday night at the Kellogg Center on the campus of MSU and then watch the championships together Saturday and Sunday.
Before wrestling begins this weekend, msuspartans.com takes a look back at that magical season of 1967, led by Coach Grady Peninger.
The 1967 season got off to a good start for the Spartans with a four-game winning streak against the Air Force Academy, the State College of Iowa, Indiana and Ohio State. They also tallied first-place finishes at both the Midlands Tournament and the Northwestern Quadrangular meet.
Individually, Don Behm at 130 pounds, Dale Anderson at 137, Dale Carr at 145, Mike Bradley at 177 and heavyweight Jack Zindel turned out key wins for the Green and White at the Northwestern meet, while both George Radman at 167 and Anderson clinched Midland titles.
In their mid-season trip out west, the Spartans recorded a first in wrestling history, as they became the first team to wrestle both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State on the road without losing. They beat the Sooners, 15-12, and tied a close match with the Cowboys, 14-14.
The team went on to increase its winning streak with four more consecutive dual wins against Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and the State College of Iowa for the second time. The Spartans dropped their first match of the season in their final dual against in-state rival Michigan, 16-14. The loss brought the team to a 9-1-1 overall regular-season record.
According to Coach Peninger, the team's winning record was a direct reflection of their hard work in practice. "It was really a tough wrestling room," he said. "Kids had to fight everyday in workouts against kids just as good as themselves. I really believe that a team is only as strong as its second place man, so I made sure that our first man earned his spot. The first man had to beat the other person two times in order to get their spot."
Despite the tough loss to the Wolverines, the Green and White went into the Big Ten Championships with high hopes. The team's determination paid off, as Michigan State made history for the second time that season, after scoring a meet-record 92 points to win the Big Ten Championship. The Spartan wrestlers tallied five firsts, two seconds and a third-place finish at the tournament, with key first-place finishes by Anderson, Radman, Behm, Bradley and Carr. The second-place finishes went to heavyweight Jeff Richardson and Dave Campbell at 152. Another Spartan, Gary Bissell, took third at 123.
After winning the title at Big Tens, the Spartans were primed to make a strong showing at the 37th NCAA Championships held at Kent State University--and they did just that. Michigan State won the National Championship as a team, with 74 total points, 11 ahead of the second-place finishers, Michigan.
Four Spartans--Behm at 130 pounds, Anderson at 137, Radman at 167 and Bradley at 177--advanced to the final round of the NCAA tournament, with Anderson and Radman both claiming NCAA titles.
Anderson became the 137-pound champion with a 3-2 decision in overtime after his opponent gave up a stalling point with one second to go in regulation. In the finals of the 167-pound weight class, Radman handed his opponent a 17-8 major decision. With their first place Big Ten and NCAA finishes, both Anderson and Radman compiled perfect records for the season, 25-0 and 24-0, respectively.
Along with first-place finishers Anderson and Radman and runner-ups Behm and Bradley, three other wrestlers also made their way to the podium. Zindel took third place at 191 pounds, while Richardson and Carr placed fourth and sixth respectively. All in all, seven Spartans came away from the NCAA Championships with All-American accolades.
Peninger cites the win at the NCAA Championships as the highlight of his coaching career and credits the wrestlers for their dedication throughout the season. "It was truly a collection of top-notch, talented kids," he said. "We were really fortunate to get them on our team. They have a lot to be thankful for and a lot to be proud of."