WADSWORTH — The greatest wrestling coach in Medina County history will join the greatest names in the sport when John Gramuglia is inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum in Stillwater, Okla.
The Wadsworth coach will go into the Ohio Chapter of the NWHOF on Oct. 15.
Joining Gramuglia in the 2017 class are Beavercreek’s Gary Wise, Cincinnati Elder’s Dick McCoy, Fairfield’s Ron Masanek, Archbold’s Chuck Forward, Cleveland Heights’ Dave Range, former Ohio State wrestler Stephen Chappelear and longtime Plain Dealer writer Pat Galbincea.
Gramuglia also joins past inductees Jim Houghtaling of Medina, Chris Kallai of Wadsworth and Gary Eaton of Brunswick.
“It’s really humbling,” Gramuglia said. “I was kind of shocked. I never thought I’d be in any hall of fame. It’s like hitting a home run, I guess. I’m with some huge names in Stillwater.
“I think it’s a statement for our program. It’s the cherry on top for the Wadsworth wrestling program for all the hard work we’ve ever done. It’s not just me. It’s all of us. If we didn’t have everyone behind us that believed in the system it wouldn’t have happened.”
That community knows the impact Gramuglia has had with the Grizzlies.
From his first state placer in Bart Randolph (2nd, 1987) to the county’s only three-time state champion in Nick Tavanello (2010-12), Gramuglia’s success is everywhere.
His teams have won 25 straight Suburban League titles. Since the turn of the century, Wadsworth has 15 top-10 finishes at state and finished in the top five two of the last three seasons. The Grizzlies also won a state title in 2010. He has coached a state placer 24 of the last 25 seasons.
“For someone to take a program that hadn’t won a match in two years and turn it into the dynasty that it is now is amazing,” said Randolph, who along with Rick Wheeland was also Gramuglia’s first state qualifier at Wadsworth. “‘G’ has not only developed a program, but he’s developed tremendous young individuals into men. There’s more than what he’s done on the mat. He’s developing them into successful young men on and off the mat.
“He has helped develop an entire city. He’s shown them it’s more than just a season. He’s become a student of the sport. He’s put the team among the best of the best.”
Randolph, who is an associate principal at Cloverleaf, saw his son go through the program and become an integral part of the state championship team.
The Randolph name is one of many that are synonymous with the program that Gramuglia, 59, built.
In 33 seasons, Gramuglia has produced 133 state qualifiers, 85 state placers, 36 state finalists, 15 state champions and qualified an individual to state 32 consecutive seasons.
More than that, he’s preached a team-first atmosphere and it shows in a 356-74-1 dual record.
“It’s more than just basic wrestling technique,” said Medina coach Chad Gilmore, who wrestled under Gramuglia at Wadsworth. “You can get that from anyone. ‘G’ does a great job of building the community around the sport. He makes everybody feel welcome. He’s definitely a father figure. He demands a lot out of his athletes, but he shows a lot of caring for them and their family even when they’re done wrestling.”
That might be Gramuglia’s greatest quality, as success among many Wadsworth graduates can be traced to their days learning the trade under the man.
“He is a coach who pretty much puts his whole life into the wrestling program,” Tavanello said. “He started from the ground up. There’s a lot of coaches out there that are handed something. He’s worked his whole life to build it up to what it is today. I wouldn’t be where I am without a coach like him. I think the world of him.
“When you have a coach that puts his whole life into a sport to make everyone participating in it better that means the world to the athletes. It makes me want to do so much for him because he does so much for me.”
Contact Brad Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.