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The legacy of Budd Whitehill, one of the most legendary coaches in the history of small-college wrestling, was permanently honored at Lycoming College on Saturday, Jan., 11, during a plaque dedication ceremony at the Budd Whitehill National Duals, the 20-team wrestling tournament named in his memory.
The plaque, which will be hung in the entryway of Lamade Gymnasium, was dedicated after a year-long campaign by former Lycoming wrestlers that helped raise the endowment for the Budd F. Whitehill Endowed Fund for Wrestling by more than $200,000. The fund provides resources above and beyond the college’s designated wrestling budget, allowing the program to do more for its student-athletes. During the past few seasons, the fund has allowed the team to hire two part-time assistant coaches. All gifts to the fund are used for the betterment of the Warrior wrestling program.
When Whitehill came to Lycoming to start the wrestling program in 1956, he was just two years removed from the end of a career as a minor league pitcher. He also was just two years removed from a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference wrestling title at Lock Haven State Teachers’ College. For the next 37 years, until his death, Whitehill embodied the image that the Warrior athletic department came to embrace. He was tough-as-nails, but someone who cared about creating a family-like environment. He began at the college as an assistant football and head wrestling and baseball coach. He stopped coaching baseball in 1963 to focus on wrestling and football before becoming the head football coach in 1966. He spent five years in the dual role before encouraging the hiring of his assistant, Frank Girardi, to take over the football team.
Meanwhile, he truly left his mark on the mat. The numbers themselves are astounding. Among numerous other honors, Whitehill coached 13 teams that finished among the NCAA’s top 15 and six among the top 10. He mentored the school’s first MAC champions in 1962 and added nine more titles after that. His 1962 team also finished third at the NAIA national tournament, behind only Lock Haven and Bloomsburg. He coached 38 All-Americans, 66 conference champions and five national champions. His overall career record was 376-172-6 (.683). He is a member of the Lycoming (1993), Lock Haven Wrestling (1991), the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame (1995) and the National Wrestling Coaches Association Division III (1991) halls of fame.
While battling cancer in 1993, Whitehill handpicked his successor, Roger Crebs ’87. Together, the pair has created one of the top coaching duos in the history of small-college wrestling. When Crebs won his 300th career dual meet in 2010, he combined with Whitehill to form the first Division III duo to win 300 matches at the same school. Crebs followed his predecessor into the NWCA Hall of Fame in 2012.
The Warriors get back on the mat on Saturday, Jan. 18, when they host the Empire Collegiate Wrestling Conference Championships at Lamade Gym. The eight-team, three-mat tournament is set to begin at 9 a.m.
Lycoming College is a four-year, residential liberal arts and sciences school dedicated to the undergraduate education of 1,400 students. Its rigorous academic program, vibrant residential community and supportive faculty foster successful student outcomes. Lycoming offers 36 academic majors and is recognized as a Tier 1 institution by U.S. News & World Report. Founded in 1812 and located near the banks of the Susquehanna River in Williamsport, Pa., Lycoming is one of the 50 oldest colleges in the nation. For more information, visit www.lycoming.edu.