Siegel inducted into wrestling HOF
John Siegel has spent a big portion of his life invested in wrestling.
Now the state is honoring him for his efforts with a hall of fame induction as a wrestling coach.
“It’s pretty overwhelming — I know the people that are in there, my contemporaries and those before me, and have so much respect for them,” Siegel said. “It’s overwhelming to be in that company.”
Siegel, who has coached for 41 years, will be presented as a hall of famer at the wrestling state tournament on Feb. 22.
He is no stranger to the state tournament. He’s taken teams and individuals there as a coach — including his own son, a state champion in 2007.
A graduate of and wrestler at both Bettendorf High School and Coe College, Siegel started his coaching career at Morning Sun High School. He coached wrestling there for 17 years, had a record of 143-17-3 and was the last coach in school history — he left when Morning Sun closed its doors in 1990.
He has since served as an assistant coach at Wapello, Columbus and New London/Winfield-Mt. Union.
He is currently the junior high wrestling coach at W-MU.
In his long career, Siegel notes that there are many favorite moments, including his first individual state champion at Morning Sun, Jay Johnson, in 1980; his first state champion team at Wapello in 1992, five state titles at Columbus, and his son’s state title.
“I’ve been really lucky to be around the people that I’ve been around,” Siegel said.
But he’s not in the sport just for its moments in the state spotlight; not just for the glory of the season-ending tournament. He’s in it for the everyday battles, to help wrestlers to each win and through each loss.
“Every team had its own thing and every kid had his own thing — it was all exciting,” Siegel said. “There were some really fun wins and some hard losses, because I knew what they had invested.
“There’s nothing like seeing a kid set a goal — because when they get it, it’s pretty exciting,” he added.
Now, 41 years into his career as a wrestling coach, Siegel hasn’t given retirement from the sport much thought, but he knows that it will have to happen eventually.
“I still enjoy it; I enjoy being around kids and the coaches — it’s just who I am and what I do,” he said. “Everybody’s got to be somebody, and that’s who I am.
“I’ve never thought about stopping. It’s coming — I know it is — but I don’t want it to.”