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Distinguished Member - RON GRAY, Kent, Ohio



In a state known for wrestling, Ron Gray stands out as one of the best ever to come out of Iowa.

In 1952, he made history, becoming the first freshman to win an Iowa state high school title. The Eagle Grove native successfully defended his title as a sophomore before falling to future NCAA champion Simon Roberts in the finals his junior year. As a senior, Gray returned to the top of the podium, winning his third state title in 1955.

After high school graduation, Gray chose to take his talents to Iowa State University where he excelled, winning three Big Eight Conference titles and reaching the NCAA tournament finals all three years he competed. In 1957, as a sophomore, he lost an overtime nailbiter at the NCAA tournament to former nemesis and Iowa Hawkeye Simon Roberts, the same opponent who had beaten him as a junior in high school.

Gray won the 1958 NCAA tournament as the third seed at 147 pounds. The following season, the Cyclone superstar reached the pinnacle of his wrestling career successfully defending his NCAA title in his home state of Iowa and earning the Outstanding Wrestler Award as the tournament’s best wrestler. Iowa State also named him the athlete-of-the-year.

After college, Gray was just as successful in the corner as he was on the mat. From 1960-1965, he was the head wrestling coach at Melvindale High School in Michigan. In 1965, Gray took over as the head wrestling coach at Franklin & Marshall where he coached two individual college division national champions. From 1971-1996, he served as head wrestling coach at Kent State University, leading the Golden Flashes to nine Mid-American Conference titles, three top 20 finishes at the NCAA tournament, and a 233-112-5 dual meet record. He also coached 49 individual conference champions and six Division I All-Americans.

For his success as an outstanding wrestler and coach, Ron Gray is recognized as a Distinguished Member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
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