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Mat of Honor for Nekoosa PE Wrestling


Ron Joslin- In 1961 Ron became Nekoosa High School’s first wrestling coach. Ron knew very little about technique, but was more than willing to learn as we were a handful of his young grapplers. Books were brought into the practice room and much time was spent reading as opposed to the practical application. Ron was very well liked and his love for this sport showed as the numbers increased through that first year. Nekoosa High School wrestlers had roughly 10 matches that first year of competition. The first dual match ever wrestled by Nekoosa High School was against Viroqua.

Gordy Freeman- In 1961, Gordy became the first young man to represent Nekoosa High School in the sport of wrestling. The weight class at the time was at the 95lb weight class and the opponent was a Viroqua High School wrestler. Gordy won that first match and was hooked on the sport ever since. After college and Uncle Sam, Gordy became Nekoosa’s first 7th and 8th grade wrestling coach along with a wonderful man by the name of Ron Ystead. The two young coaches met with much success at that level. Soon the Papermaker youth wrestling program was formed and Gordy was instrumental at the very foundation. He is a past president of this organization. He also became a certified WIAA Wrestling Official, but found the rancorous Nekoosa High School Wrestling fans more than he could handle. He and his wife Rita have stayed near the edge of the wrestling mat here in Nekoosa from 1961 on helping wherever they could. Gordy also did broadcasts of the high school dual matches for Public Access. Gordy has had the privilege of watching several nephews and the two sons go through the program and meet with much success.


Don Kessler-Don holds several distinctions when it comes to Nekoosa Wrestling. Don is probably the first avid supporter of our wrestling program. Don didn’t care what the rest of your life was like, but if you were a Nekoosa Wrestler, you were O.K. He had befriended hundreds of young men in our community through his love for this sport. Don also holds the distinction of being the first Nekoosa High School Wrestling fan to ever get kicked out of the gym. (Don  should not have given into the Brownie that day, we still think you were right.) By the way, Roger Jelicka, “the Auburndale Wrestling Coach” called to say thanks for the nickname. He just loves being called POPCORN. Don has also watched  a son and a grandson of his work on the mat over the years.


Ron Ystad- Nekoosa’s first 7th and 8th Grade Head Wrestling Coach. Ron was one of those very special people, who are not afraid of taking a chance. He knew very little about the sport, only knowing what he had learned from watching matches while running the clock. He was a fast learner in the sport and you could see that wrestling had quickly become a very important part of his life. Ron watched as a son of his came through the wrestling program and a daughter participated as a cheerleader. Nekoosa High School wrestling is much better because Ron Ystad was involved.

Ron Arendt and Leland Buehuler-Ron and Leland were Nekoosa High School’s first State Qualifiers. In 1971, Ron was a freshman and Leland was a senior. Ron went on to wrestle in the field house at Madison twice more, making him Nekoosa High School’s first 2-time state qualifier and Nekoosa’s first 3-time state qualifier joining only a handful of young men here in Nekoosa. Ron was the second Arendt to wrestle for Nekoosa High School. He was preceded to the mat by an older brother named Alan, who was a member of the very first Nekoosa High School wrestling team. Ron went on to wrestle in college and has been around the mats here in Nekoosa ever since that freshman year. He has seen brothers, nephews, and sons all come through the wrestling program, while nieces and a daughter cheered for Nekoosa Wrestlers. Leland as well found much success on the wrestling mat. He also perused the sport in college. Very few of you know this, but Leland went on to coach a very successful high-school program in Fennimore High School. He has also been very active in the Nekoosa Youth program. Leland has a son who also come through the program and had some success.

Mike Webb- Mike is a Nekoosa High School’s first state Wrestling Champion. In 1973 Mike completed an undefeated season going 33-0-1 pinning his way through nearly the entire bracket at Madison, when there was only one division in the sport of wrestling. In the finals, he pinned a young man from Reedsburg by the name of Meyer early in the second period. Mike has been a mainstay in the Nekoosa High School Wrestling Program ever since. He was able to compete in Division 1 at college, but injuries took their toll. Mike was often invited to area rooms to work with new young heavyweights, because the good ones were hard to work with for an average sized coach. Mike also became a coach here in Nekoosa, and met with great success while doing so. He along with Ron Mueller coached Nekoosa Wrestlers to a runner-up finish in Division 2 in 1994, a first for Nekoosa Wrestling. In 1995 Mike was in the corner when Nekoosa Wrestlers demolished the field at the individual State Tournament, sending four young men into the finals.




Scott Thurber- In 1990 Scott became  Nekoosa High School’s second State Champion. Scott finished his championship season in the 119-pound weight class.  Scott wrestled varsity all four years for Nekoosa High School and ended  his career with 105 victories. He was able represent Nekoosa High School two times in our State’s Individual Tournament. He ended his career with 105. When we hear the term “Walk Softly, but carry a Big Stick,” Scott is currently the Nekoosa School wrestling coach and is very involved in the youth program. Scott’s wife (Ranee Freeman)was a wrestling cheerleader as a little girl and now helps Scott with anything he needs done. Scott coached his daughter Brooke Thurber through all of  her  wrestling career. She became the 1st girl wrestler in the South Central Conference to achieve a Conference Title and also make it to Sectionals. Now Scott’s son Blaze wrestles for his dad on the High School Team.  You can find Scott twelve months out of the year devoted to wrestling in some way or another and the family is very dedicated to Nekoosa Wrestling programs.

Al and Carol Jensen- The name Jensen has become synonymous with Nekoosa Wrestling. They have been the singe strongest family in the history of wrestling here. Carol and Al have been able to watch their son’s wrestle and grandson’s wrestle, and their great grandson’s wrestle. Carol was yelling for Nekoosa Wrestlers to “Shoot the Half”, long before most fans knew what a half nelson was. They had a love all for Nekoosa Athletics, but wrestling was a  big part of their hearts. The Jensen name is in all records of Nekoosa Wrestling and it all began with Carol and Al. They have had the opportunity to watch three grandsons that have reached the very pinnacle of the sport of wrestling, as they were awarded their state Championships. Three of their grandsons are members of the Century Club.  Two of their grandsons were on Nekoosa’s Championship Team in 1995.


Josh Jensen- Is Nekoosa High School’s first Two-Time State Champion. Josh complied numerous records along the way during his outstanding career, many of which will probably never be broken. Josh holds the record for the longest winning streak, which stands at 81. This includes his championships of 1994 and 1995, and a third-place finish in 1993. Josh also holds the single season pin record of 29 in 1995. He also holds the career pin record here in Nekoosa, recording 73 pins in high school. What makes this an outstanding feat is the fact that this was accomplished in only three years of wrestling. Josh is a member of the 40 Win Club, which only has two other members in it. Josh is the second winningest wrestler in the history of the sport here at Nekoosa with 112 wins in his outstanding high school career. Josh was also a team captain of the Division 2 State Championship team in 1995. Those of us who were lucky enough to see Josh compete during his wrestling career, now have a very good understanding of the term “Fiery Competitor.” Josh has seen uncles and younger brother meet great success in Nekoosa Wrestling.  Josh has now taken on a roll of Head Coach for our 6,7,8th graders at Alexander Middle School and helps with our Youth program.




Troy Freeman- Is Nekoosa’s only four-time State Qualifier, finishing his high school career with 132 wins. Troy is also Nekoosa’s only All State Academic First Team Wrestler, which he accomplished not once, but three times. Troy never lost in a dual match in his four years of varsity competition at Nekoosa High School. He was the recipient of “The Crossface” scholarship, which is awarded to one graduating senior in the state of Wisconsin. He was also the second student from Nekoosa High School to receive the Scholar Athlete Award. Troy finished second in his career takedowns and was also a Captain of the 1995 Championship Team. He is a three-time member of the 30-Win Club and finished his career with 53 pins, which ranks him third in the record books. His greatest asset was the work ethic he brought into the practice room. Troy and his older brother Derek are one of the only two brother teams to wrestle in the Individual State Tournament and represent Nekoosa High School, the other being John and Chet Bowman.

John Bowman Jr.- In 1994 John was a State Champion for NHS. He finished the season with an embellished record of 40-0 in the 152-pound weight class. John was a three-time state qualifier for Nekoosa High School. John recorded 106 wins during his career and is a member of the Century Club. John was a Team Captain on the 1994 runner-up State Team. John also was a member of the other brother team to represent Nekoosa High School at the Individual State Tournament along with his brother Chet. John finished his high school with 50 pins.



Ron Mueller- Head Coach of Nekoosa High School’s first Division Two State Championship Team. Ron arrived in Nekoosa during the late 80’s and he began as an assistant wrestling coach immediately. It wasn’t long before he was handed the head coaching position, and Nekoosa Wrestling took on a “Life OF Its Own”. Ron brought so many great things to the program that are hard to find the time to tell you about all of them. Many of the Nekoosa Wrestling fans were unprepared for the flying chairs and the barley controllable competitiveness. His critics were soon silenced as they began to see the change in their son’s and Nekoosa Wrestling. The bar was being raised and everyone involved knew it. Even more then his competitive nature, Ron was able to instill respect into the young men he coached. Respect not only for him, but also for the sport, for themselves, for their families, and for their opponent’s. Many have said that there were no finer conditioned athletes in the state then Ron Mueller’s Wrestlers. This was accomplished by example and this allowed victories where many loses should have been. Ron has  moved to Mosinee to take a position of Assistant Principle and has now retired but he will always be a big part of Nekoosa Wrestling, and he has left his imprint on many young men here in Nekoosa.

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