National Wrestling Hall of Fame announces Class of 2024
by Jack Carnefix, National Wrestling Hall of Fame
STILLWATER, Okla. – The National Wrestling Hall of Fame on Monday announced that its Class of 2024 is Distinguished Members Tadaaki Hatta, Toccara Montgomery, Coleman Scott and Logan Stieber, Meritorious Official honoree J.R. Johnson, Order of Merit recipient Darryl Miller, Medal of Courage recipient Jonathan Koch, and Outstanding American honoree retired United States Army Infantry Colonel Steve Banach.
“We are thrilled with the exceptional quality of this year's inductees and eagerly await their enshrinement into the Hall of Fame in the spring,” said Lee Roy Smith, Executive Director of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. “From pioneers to visionary thinkers, these esteemed honorees have paved their own paths of excellence, whether it be on the mat or on the battlefield.
“In addition, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to the selection committees for their meticulous and rigorous efforts in the process.”
The Hall of Fame’s Board of Governors approved the selections at their annual fall meeting on October 24.
The Class of 2024 will be honored and officially inducted during the 47th Honors Weekend on May 31 and June 1, 2024 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. For more information on Honors Weekend, please telephone (405) 377-5243.
Montgomery, Scott and Stieber were chosen as Distinguished Members for the Modern Era while Hatta was selected by the Veterans Committee. The newest honorees will bring the number of Distinguished Members to 212, since the Hall of Fame began in 1976.
Montgomery becomes the first Black female and the sixth female overall to be inducted as a Distinguished Member, joining Clarissa Chun (2022), Kristie Davis (2018), Sara McMann (2022), Patricia Miranda (2023) and Tricia Saunders (2006). It marks the third consecutive year that a female Distinguished Member has been inducted.
Hatta becomes the second Japanese wrestler to be inducted as a Distinguished Member, joining Oklahoma State teammate Yojiro Uetake Obata (1980).
Scott (2004) and Stieber (2010) become the first two national winners of the Hall of Fame’s Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award to be inducted as Distinguished Members. Presented annually since 1996, the DSHSEA is awarded to a male high school senior and based equally on outstanding wrestling success, scholastic achievement and citizenship or community service.
Hatta and Scott bring the number of Distinguished Members from Oklahoma State to 38, the most of any college. The University of Iowa is second with 17 while Iowa State University and the University of Oklahoma are tied for third with 14 each.
Stieber becomes the first Distinguished Member from Ohio State University while Montgomery is the first from the University of the Cumberlands.
Montgomery and Stieber were both born in Ohio while Hatta was an art teacher, wrestling coach and trainer at high schools in Ohio for 40 years.
Distinguished Members can be a wrestler who has achieved extraordinary success in national and/or international competition; a coach who has demonstrated great leadership in the profession and who has compiled an outstanding record; or a contributor whose long-term activities have substantially enhanced the development and advancement of the sport. Wrestlers must have been retired from active competition for a period of five years to be eligible for consideration as a Distinguished Member.
Tadaaki Hatta came to the United States from Tokyo, Japan in 1961 and became an NCAA champion, two-time All-American and two-time Big Eight champion for Oklahoma State University. He helped OSU win NCAA titles in 1964 and 1966 while finishing second in 1965. Hatta has taught and coached wrestling at every level, from youth clubs to the Olympics. He was on the U.S. men’s freestyle coaching staff for the Olympics in 1988, 1992 and 1996 and the World Championships from 1979 to 1995. He coached the Japanese Olympic team in 1968 and 1984 and the Mexican Olympic team in 1972. Hatta was on the coaching staff for the U.S. Women’s team for the 2004 Olympics, the first Olympics where women competed in wrestling, and returned to the 2008 Olympics as volunteer head coach of the U.S. Women’s team. He was also the head coach of the 1998 Men’s Cadet World Team, the 1999 Women’s Cadet World Team, the Women’s Junior World Team in 2001 and 2002 and the 2002 Women’s University Team. Hatta works with the New York Athletic Club women’s team and also volunteers with Cleveland Beat the Streets. He is also an assistant coach for the St. Ignatius High School rugby team, which won the high school national championship and the Ohio state championship in 2022. Hatta is also a consultant for the St. Ignatius wrestling team and for Nike Wrestling. He was an art teacher, wrestling coach and trainer from 1972-2011 at high schools in Ohio, including Oberline High School, Ravenna High School, St. Edward High School, St. Ignatius High School and Walsh Jesuit High School. He graduated from Oklahoma State with a bachelor’s degree in fine art in 1966 and then earned a master’s degree in art from Northwestern University. Three of his paintings and a sculpture are displayed at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame while one of his ink drawings is part of the OSU Museum of Art’s permanent collection. Hatta received the Gallagher Award from Oklahoma State wrestling in 2019 and was recognized as a Distinguished Alumni by the Oklahoma State College of Arts & Sciences in 2022. An honorary member of the Chickasaw Nation, he also restores statues at Cleveland churches pro bono and recently completed a portrait of his father to commemorate the 90th anniversary of wrestling at Waseda University, commissioned by wrestling alumni it will hang in the school’s wrestling room.
Toccara Montgomery is considered one of the most dominant female wrestlers in United States history. In her first Senior World Championships appearance in 2001, she captured a silver medal. Still a senior in high school, Montgomery won seven gold medals at major Senior women’s events while also claiming a silver medal at the Junior World Championships in 2001. She was named International Women’s Wrestler of the Year by FILA in 2001, becoming the first American female and only the third American ever to win the prestigious award. Montgomery joined fellow Distinguished Members John Smith (1995) and Stephen Neal (1999) as Americans to win the FILA International Wrestler of the Year award. She was also named the TheMat.com/ASICS Girls High School Wrestler of the Year in 2001. Montgomery returned to the World Championships in 2002 and 2003. She repeated as a silver medalist in 2003. She made history in 2004 as the first Black woman to wrestle for the U.S. in the Olympics, finishing seventh. Montgomery was a four-time United States Open champion and the Pan American Games champion in 2002 and 2003. She was a United States Girls Wrestling Association national champion and a three-time finalist. Montgomery began her career at East Technical High School in Cleveland, as not only one of the first members of the school’s wrestling team, but also one of the first girls to compete in a male-dominated sport on the prep level. She was a national champion as a senior for East Tech after a runner-up finish as a junior. Montgomery was a two-time national champion for the University of the Cumberlands, winning the first two college national championships ever held for women’s wrestling. She was inducted into the Cumberlands Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006 and into the Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2023, becoming the first female honored by the organization. The Ohio High School Athletic Association’s Female Wrestler of the Year award is named in her honor. She became the first female to serve as head coach for a women’s college wrestling team when she was named head coach at Lindenwood University in 2010. Montgomery began her coaching career as a graduate assistant at Cumberlands in 2006. Currently she works as an assistant principal for the St. Louis Public School District while also serving also the head girls wrestling coach for Clayton High School and an assistant coach with the St. Louis Warriors youth wrestling club.
Coleman Scott won a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics after being an NCAA champion, two-time finalist and four-time All-American for Oklahoma State. He helped OSU win NCAA team titles in 2005 and 2006 and to fifth-place finishes in 2007 and 2008. Scott was a member of the U.S. National Freestyle Team in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015. He was a three-time Pennsylvania state champion for Waynesburg Central High School. Scott was a two-time USA Wrestling National Junior Freestyle champion and a two-time USA Junior World Freestyle team member. He was the Pennsylvania, Northeast Region and National winner of the Hall of Fame’s Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award in 2004. Scott was an assistant wrestling coach at Oklahoma State from 2012 to 2014, where he coached four NCAA Division I national champions and six NCAA DI All-Americans while helping OSU capture two Big 12 Conference titles and finish second and third as a team at the NCAA championships. He became an assistant coach at the University of North Carolina in 2014 and took over as head coach after one season. Scott coached two-time NCAA champion Austin O’Connor and NCAA finalist Kizhan Clarke and 13 All-Americans while leading the Tar Heels to five Top 20 finishes at the NCAA tournament. He was a coach for the U.S. Women’s Freestyle team at the World Championships in 2018 and 2019 and for the World Champion U.S. Men’s Freestyle team in 2017. Scott also coached a Canadian Senior World Team member and an Olympic Trials champion. He returned to Oklahoma State in 2023 as associate head coach.
Logan Stieber became the first Big Ten Conference wrestler and the fourth wrestler overall to be a four-time NCAA Division I wrestling champion. He captured his titles in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, when he was named Outstanding Wrestler of the NCAA tournament and the Dan Hodge Trophy winner. That same year, he led Ohio State to the first wrestling national championship in school history. Stieber was also a four-time Big Ten Conference champion and finished his career with a 119-3 record, boasting the highest winning percentage (.975) in school history. He won a World Championship in men’s freestyle in 2016 and returned to the World Championships in 2017 and 2018, helping the United States capture the team title in 2018, while also capturing a Pan American title in 2018. Stieber was a four-time Ohio state high school champion for Monroeville High School and won his final 179 matches to finish with a career record of 184-1. He was the Ohio, Midwest Region and National winner of the Hall of Fame’s Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award in 2010. Stieber was also named the Ohio Wrestler of the Year and the Junior Hodge Trophy winner in 2010 and helped Monroeville win the Ohio state team title. He became only the second wrestler in history to win both the Hodge and the Junior Dan Hodge Trophy, given to the top high school wrestler in the country. He was a two-time Ironman Tournament champion and was named Outstanding Wrestler in 2009. In the international styles as a prep, Stieber made his mark, winning multiple national championships in both freestyle and Greco-Roman at the cadet and junior levels. He also won the FILA Junior Freestyle National Championship and was third at the U.S. Open and fourth at the Senior World Team Trials as a junior in high school. Stieber has been an assistant coach for Ohio State since 2021.
The Medal of Courage recipient is a wrestler or former wrestler who has overcome what appear to be insurmountable challenges, providing inspiration to others.
Jonathan Koch, a former wrestler with a 21-7 varsity record at State College Area High School in State College, Pennsylvania, has an incredible story of resilience. Koch worked as a television producer and co-founded Asylum Entertainment which sold to Legendary Entertainment in 2014. In 2015 his life took an unexpected turn when he fell seriously ill during a producers conference in Washington, D.C. To save his life, doctors had to place Koch into a coma. After several harrowing weeks, he miraculously woke up with his mind and spirit intact. However, he learned that he had survived septic shock, which had severely compromised his body. As a result, he had lost all or part of all four limbs, including his right leg and left hand. Even in the face of such devastating circumstances, Koch refused to succumb to despair. Rather than accepting a grim prognosis, he made a vow to not only survive but to thrive for the sake of his teenaged daughter and new wife, Jennifer. Despite being told that his chances of survival were slim, Koch defied the odds. His doctors were astounded by his resilience and determination to live. One doctor, in particular, admitted that Koch had changed her perspective on being a doctor and what could be achieved when patients were willing to fight back. When asked how he survived against unimaginable odds by a doctor at GW hospital, a depleted Koch whispered the powerful truth, “I’m a wrestler.” Over the next 18 months, Koch underwent numerous painful surgeries, prosthetic fittings, and endured intensive rehabilitation. Despite the challenges he faced, he consistently surpassed his doctors' expectations. Recognizing his mental and physical strength, a pioneering surgeon believed Koch was an ideal candidate for a revolutionary human hand transplant. In a groundbreaking procedure, Koch made medical history by successfully receiving a new hand. While it typically takes several years to learn how to use a transplanted hand, Koch's determination and tenacity allowed him to succeed in its use within just four months. Astonishingly, he was back on the tennis court soon thereafter, showcasing his resilience and unwavering spirit. Today, Koch shares his remarkable journey with people worldwide. Through coaching, leadership, and motivational speaking engagements, he inspires others to stand up and fight against adversity. Jonathan Koch's story serves as a powerful testament to the strength of the human spirit and the extraordinary possibilities that can emerge from even the darkest of situations.
The Order of Merit is presented to an individual that has made a significant contribution to the sport of wrestling, but who is not an athlete or a coach. The Order of Merit recipient is determined in a vote of Distinguished Members.
Darryl Miller has worked as a medical volunteer for USA Wrestling since 1993. He served as the chief athletic trainer for USA Wrestling at the 1996 Olympics and was the head athletic trainer for USA Wrestling at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympics and the 2007 Pan American Games. Miller worked eight World Championships while also working four U.S. Olympic Trials and at the U.S. Nationals from 1996 to 2005. He worked 12 World Cups from 1994 to 2010 while also working at the 1993 Minsk Dual, the 1995 Cerro Pelado tournament, and the Krasnoyarsk tournament from 1996 to 1999. Miller made presentations on emergency procedures, skin lesions and CPR/First Aid for coaches at USA Wrestling clinics at the Bronze and Silver levels for several years. Miller was director of the high school outreach program at the University of Colorado-Denver from 1988 to 1995. He then became the secondary education instructor of athletic training/emergency medicine and director of sports medicine for Denver Public Schools. He served as vice president of the Colorado Athletic Trainers' Association and Licensure Committee and as chairman for the National Strength and Conditioning Association's state clinic in Colorado. For 28 years Miller volunteered to implement and organize the Denver Public Schools High School Thanksgiving Championship Wrestling Clinic, featuring NCAA champions and Olympic and World medalists as instructors. He also spent 16 years as the head athletic trainer for the Colorado High School All-State Games while serving as a volunteer for Special Olympics and Lift America. Miller received the Colorado High School Activities Association Distinguished Service Award while also being named Denver Public Schools Distinguished Teacher of the Year and the recipient of the Lloyd Gasgill award from the Colorado High School Coaches Association. He is a member of the Denver Public Schools Athletic Hall of Fame and the Colorado Athletic Trainers' Association Hall of Fame. Miller was named University of Wisconsin Athletic Trainer of the Year in 1984 and received the HealthONE Community Partner award in 2001 and the National Athletic Trainers' Association Athletic Trainers Service Award in 2005. He received the Lifetime Service award from the Colorado Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2017. Miller received his bachelor's degree with double major in physical education and industrial education from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville while also lettering four years in gymnastics and three years in soccer. He received his master's degree in exercise physiology and National Athletic Trainers' Association Board of Certification from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Miller was co-director of the exercise physiology lab and the high school outreach athletic trainer at Wisconsin-Madison. He served in the United States Marines Corps from 1971 to 1974, as a member of the Marine Corps Special Forces (First & Third Force Reconnaissance).
The Meritorious Official award recognizes outstanding service as a referee, judge, or pairing official.
J.R. Johnson began officiating in 1993 and has joined an exclusive group of referees who have officiated at every level the United States has to offer. He has achieved his greatest renown at the college level with more than 20 years of experience. Consistently ranked as one of the Top Five officials in the country, Johnson has worked an astonishing 20 NCAA Division I National Championships, making him the third-longest tenured official at the DI tournament. He has worked the Colonial Athletic Conference Tournament, the Pac-12 Conference Tournament, two College All-Star matches, and the Big Ten Tournament for 20 years. Johnson has worked and been in charge of assigning officials for the Hokie Open, the Wolfpack Open, the Journeymen Duals and the Southern Scuffle. At the high school level, he has officiated multiple Virginia state tournaments, both AAA and AA, while also refereeing prestigious events including the Beast of the East and the Virginia Duals. He also works state, regional and national freestyle and Greco-Roman tournaments at the senior, junior and cadet levels. Johnson mentors younger officials, encouraging them and helping them grow in their profession, while also assisting with weigh-ins, pairings and scheduling at tournaments at every level. He began wrestling in middle school and was a four-year starter in high school, splitting seasons at Mills Edwin Godwin High School in Richmond, Virginia and Hermitage High School in Henrico, Virginia. Johnson wrestled at Virginia Tech University and was a Colonial Conference champion while also competing in high school as a member of Team Virginia in both freestyle and Greco-Roman. He worked as an assistant coach at both of his high school alma maters and continues to regularly volunteer to assist youth wrestlers.
The Outstanding American award is presented to those individuals who have used the disciplines of wrestling to launch notable careers in other walks of life, such as science and technology, business and industry, government and the military, and the arts and humanities.
Retired United States Army Infantry Colonel Steve Banach began wrestling in the eighth grade and competed alongside his younger twin brothers Ed and Lou Banach for Port Jervis High School in Port Jervis, New York. He continued his career at Clemson University, where he was elected captain of the wrestling team as a freshman and was an Atlantic Coast Conference finalist. Banach then decided to transfer to the University of Iowa, where his twin brothers were wrestling for Dan Gable. Steve ended his wrestling career at the 1984 Final Olympic Trials as a member of the US Army Wrestling Team. He served with distinction in the United States Army from 1983 to 2010. This period of service included deployments to six combat zones. Steve demonstrated impeccable leadership during his service in the U.S. Army. He is a Distinguished Member of the 75th Ranger Regiment and served in that special operations organization for nine years, culminating with command of the 3rd Ranger Battalion from 2001-2003. He led U.S. Army Rangers during a historic night combat parachute assault into Afghanistan on October 19, 2001, as the “spearhead” for the Global War on Terror for the United States of America. He subsequently led U.S. Army Rangers in a second combat parachute assault into Al Anbar Province in western Iraq in 2003. Banach served as the 11th Director of the prestigious School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS) and led the development of the U.S. Army’s Design Methodology doctrine. As a Stryker Brigade Commander, he led the development of the Company Intelligence Support Team tactics, techniques, and procedures, for the U.S. Army. He served as the lead Design Officer for the Department of the Army Cyber Information Warfare Design Planning Team. He also served as the Director of the Army Management Staff College and was responsible for the design and implementation of the US Army’s Civilian Education System. He earned the Distinguished Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device, Bronze Star Medal for Service, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge with two awards, and the Master Parachutist Badge with two Bronze Combat Jump Stars. Banach also holds a certificate in Leadership in Crisis: Preparation and Performance, from the JFK School of Government at Harvard University. After leaving the U.S. Army, Banach served as the CEO of the Operational Art & Strategic Initiatives Studies Group (OASIS-G) and is now the Vice-President for Strategic Planning at SOFTwarfare, LLC.
National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum
America's shrine to the sport of wrestling, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum was founded as a nonprofit organization in 1976 to honor the sport of wrestling, preserve its history, recognize extraordinary individual achievements, and inspire future generations. The National Wrestling Hall of Fame has museums in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and Waterloo, Iowa. The Stillwater, Oklahoma, location reopened in June 2016 following a $3.8 million renovation while the Waterloo, Iowa, location reopened in March 2019 after undergoing a $1.4 million renovation. Both museums now feature interactive exhibits and electronic kiosks, as well as the opportunity to watch NCAA Championship matches from the 1930s to present day. Stillwater also has the John T. Vaughan Hall of Honors where the greatest names in wrestling are recognized, including iconic granite plaques presented to Distinguished Members since the Hall of Fame opened in 1976. The museum has the largest collection of wrestling artifacts and memorabilia in the world, including the most collegiate and Olympic wrestling uniforms. Wrestling truly is for everyone and the diversity and accessibility of the sport continues to be highlighted through exhibits featuring females, African-Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Latino Americans. There is also a library featuring historical documents, including NCAA guides and results, as well as books on the sport.
For more information about the Hall of Fame, please visit www.NWHOF.org.