Former wrestling coach
inducted into hall of fame
Wednesday, April 30, 2014 5:38 AM
Jon Rhodes, a former Harmony wrestling coach, was inducted into the David Bartelma Wrestling Hall of Fame in Benson on Saturday, April 26.
Rhodes was one of eight individuals honored for their contributions to Minnesota's amateur wrestling programs at the 2014 induction dinner.
He attended Gaylord High School, graduating from there in 1959. He did not wrestle in high school as there was no program at that time. He was the captain of the basketball team. He attended Bemidji State College, graduating in 1965. He coached his first two years at Perham, and followed that with one year as a volunteer coach at a middle school in Forrest Grove, Ore., while he pursued his Master's Degree at Portland State University, completing the degree in Minnesota.
Rhodes then began his 20-year coaching tenure in Harmony in 1970. While there his teams won 11 Southeast/Maple Leaf Conference titles and numerous tournament championships. His 1984-85 team went undefeated during the regular season.
In 1992, he and his wife, Carol, accepted teaching/coaching positions at St. Mary's International School in Tokyo, Japan. His Titan teams won four Kanto Tournament Titles, three Far-East Titles, four Kanto Conference Dual Meet Championships and many team tournament titles. Two of his St. Mary's teams also went undefeated.
In 36 years of coaching, he compiled an overall record of 249-99-8 and experienced 33 winning seasons. He was also named "Teacher of the Year" in Harmony in 1974 and District One Coach of the year in 1989, as well as twice winning Coach of the Year honors in Tokyo.
His wife, Carol, had a long and successful teaching career, having taught at St. Cloud Tech, Detroit Lakes, Forrest Grove, Harmony and Tokyo, Japan.
He and his wife have been married 45 years and have two sons, Reg and Ryan, both of whom were wrestlers, as well as two grandchildren, Aiden and Zoey.
About the hall of fame
The hall of fame is named after David C. Bartelma, who was largely responsible for the planting of the wrestling seed in Minnesota. He was a transplanted Iowan and had spent a decade coaching wrestling in Iowa; first at Iowa Falls and then at Cresco where he also served as principal. He directed six undefeated teams and his 1933 and 1935 teams won the Iowa State High School Championships. He joined the University of Minnesota Athletic Staff as the first full-time wrestling coach in 1935. He nurtured the wrestling seed in Minnesota not only by profound wrestling knowledge, but also by his contagious enthusiasm and ability to convince others of the merits of this sport.
In addition to these attributions, Bartelma worked to popularize amateur wrestling. He staged the first high school wrestling tournament in 1937 (not yet sanctioned by the Minnesota State High School League). The first tournament was held at the University of Minnesota Field House with only eight weight classes.
The success of Minnesota wrestling is the direct result of the hard work and dedication fostered by Bartelma, who is considered to be "The Father of Minnesota Wrestling."