Seven Oklahomans have been inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Oklahoma Chapter, including former Ardmore wrestling coach Richard Dabbs.
The Jim Thorpe Museum hosted this year's Honors Banquet for the Oklahoma Chapter on Sunday.
Six recipients of the Class of 2013 were inducted with Lifetime Service to Wrestling awards, an honor given annually to those coaches, officials and contributors who have given a minimum of 20 years of service to the sport of wrestling, to their communities and, most importantly, to the young people they have coached, taught and inspired.
Dr. Gary Breece was inducted as an Outstanding American, someone with a wrestling background who has excelled in other walks of life as an orthodontist.
Lisa Smith opened the evening and introduced Lee Roy Smith, Executive Director of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, who welcomed everyone to the Honors Banquet. Each honoree was introduced and presented their plaque and green jacket.
The Class of 2013 includes Richard Dabbs, Tom Frohnapfel, Charlie Gomez, Thomas E. Holland, Lee R. Smith, Jr. "Big Lee" and Bob Zweiacher.
Breece was one of the most successful wrestlers to put on a singlet at the University of Oklahoma. A two-time state champion, for Edmond Memorial in 1968 and Tulsa Memorial in 1969, and a National Junior Freestyle champion, he matriculated to college soon after the NCAA lifted its ban on freshmen competing. He was the first wrestler in Sooner history, and the first from any school in the modern era to earn All-America honors four times (1971-74).
Dabbs was the head wrestling coach at Anadarko High School from 1983-2001, at Sulphur High School from 2004-08 and at Ardmore High School from 2008-13. Highlights of his career include a 277-121 high school varsity dual meet record, a state dual team championship and one runner-up finish, and 11 district dual championships. His teams finished in the top 10 at the state championships 10 times. He also coached 11 individual state champions, 55 state place winners, three high school All-Americans and five individuals who were All-Americans in USA Wrestling freestyle and Greco-Roman competition. Included in Dabbs' list of champion wrestlers is his son, Eric, a four-time state finalist, who won the state tournament as a junior and as a senior (2000-2001). The younger Dabbs went undefeated both seasons and was named 3A Wrestler of the Year. In 1993, Dabbs was named 3A Wrestling Coach of the Year and was selected to coach in the All-State meet.
Frohnapfel coached for two years at Geary and Tecumseh before finding his coaching home at Broken Arrow High School for 31 years, from 1974-2005. During his stint at Geary, Frohnapfel coached Tom and David Brack to individual state championships. Both went on to coach state championship teams of their own. During his tenure at Broken Arrow, Frohnapfel helped guide the Tigers to five straight state championships, from 1998-2002 and three consecutive dual state championships from 1998-2000.
Holland had been coaching youth wrestling for 10 years when he received his OSSAA officiating credentials in 1979 and began a 34-year career as a high school wrestling referee. He has officiated high school wrestling tournaments in Oklahoma, Colorado, Delaware, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Nevada and Texas. Included in these tournaments are state championships, state dual meet tournaments, and All-State events in Oklahoma, as well as top national tournaments like the Beast of the East, the Reno Tournament of Champions, the Super 32 in North Carolina, and the Disney Duals in Florida. For 25 years, Holland has served as the director of officials for World of Wrestling events throughout the country.
Smith is best known for fathering four of the greatest wrestlers ever in the state of Oklahoma, but his contributions extend far beyond that. When fourth-grader Lee Roy Smith III came home from school in 1967 and told his dad he wanted to wrestle, "Big Lee," as he is affectionately known, jumped right in to help. For the next 30-plus years, as his sons Lee Roy, John, Pat and Mark moved through the Mid-Del School System and on to Oklahoma State University, Big Lee helped plan and organize numerous scholastic and Olympic-style events at virtually every competitive level. He moved mats, drew brackets, assisted at weigh-ins and kept score. Since 1977, he has missed only two NCAA Division I championships.
Zweiacher has a unique place in the history of Oklahoma wrestling. He started the wrestling program at Northern Oklahoma College in 1968, and was the only wrestling coach in school history. Between 1968 and 1983 when the program was dropped, his teams finished in the top 10 of the NJCAA seven times, including four top-five finishes.
Five of his wrestlers won individual national titles.