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Minnesota Wrestling: First NCAA Championship Won 79 Years Ago Today

John Whitaker whooped John Ginay of Illinois at the 1937 NCAA Wrestling Tournament to become the Gophers' first National Champion.

John Whitaker in 1937
John Whitaker in 1937

1937 U of M Wrestling Team.

John dominated the entire Wrestling season, winning dual meet and Big Ten victories. The captain for the 1937 Wrestling team, John also won recognition as the Outstanding Big Ten Wrestler of the Year. He also studied Medicine, and served in the National Society of the Scabbard and Blade (some kind of R.O.T.C.) while at the University of Minnesota.

John looking like some kind of villain.

The 1937 Tournament was held at Indiana State Teachers College (today Indiana State University). Whitaker a Senior that year competed in the 175 pound weight class. The 1937 tournament was the 10th such NCAA Wrestling event. Whitaker was inducted into the M Club Hall of Fame in 2011.

A quick history behind the Gophers Wrestling program, it began in 1910. After Whitaker's title, Dale Hanson, in 1939 and Leonard "Butch" Levy in 1941 also went on to win individual NCAA Championships. Butch is such a great wrestling name.