Big man on the mat

UNI’s Randy Omvig was the first wrestler to win four NCC titles and went out as a national champion at heavyweight in 1975. The former Tri-County wrestling coach and BCLUW teacher will be inducted into the UNI Hall of Fame this fall. (Photo provided by UNI Athletics)

Omvig to enter UNI Hall of Fame


Randy Omvig had the potential to be something special for Northern Iowa wrestling. Head coach Chuck Patten was sure of this.


Now all he needed to do was see that Omvig believed it himself as he entered the Panthers program in the 1970-71 school year after winning a high school state title with Eagle Grove.


As a freshman, Omvig won the North Central Conference crown at 190 pounds.


"We knew he'd fill out and become a real man," Patten said. "He had the wrestling skills of a lightweight, but he was a big man. That made him very effective for us."


Omvig sharpened his skills with the Panthers as the seasons went on, picking up the heavyweight mantle from his predecessor and eventually becoming the first wrestler in NCC history to win four conference titles.


He went out on top as an individual national champion with UNI's national-championship-winning team in 1974-75, finishing with a record of 116-29-1.


"He was aggressive, he was good," UNI teammate David Pike said. "He used his length and leverage very well, … and put you on your back. Even as a freshman, a tough, tough wrestler."


Omvig will be honored for his individual accomplishments as part of the UNI Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2018 in a ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 22 at 10 a.m. in the McLeod Center.


After wrestling, Omvig, who now calls Grundy Center home, spent time working in Wyoming, but eventually returned to Iowa where he recently retired after 24 years of teaching at BCLUW. But even as life went on after the wrestling room, he still carried a lesson or two with him.


"The biggest thing that ever came out of wrestling is a never-give-up attitude," Omvig said. "You take on a situation, and you do the best you possibly can."


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