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Don Wem, Wrestling (1952-55)

Courtesy: Toledo Athletics
Release: 03/31/2010
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Courtesy: Toledo Athletics

Wem won three Mid-American Conference wrestling titles in three different divisions during his UT career. In 1952, he won the 157-pound class, in 1953 the 167-pound title, and in 1954 the 177-pound class. Wem made a bid for a heavyweight title in 1955, but was defeated by Bowling Green's Ken Russell, who won the MAC's title. Wem had beaten Russell who weighed 266 pounds and WEM, 177 pounds. It was that type of determination that helped him become an All-American in 1955. Former UT wrestling coach Joe Scalzo oftened moved WEM into higher weight classes. In 1954, he once wrestled in the 191-pound class, when he normally would contend in the 177-pound class.       Wem

 It was that type of determination that helped him become an All-American in 1955. After losing in the heavyweight division, he advanced to the NCAA wrestling tournament in the NCAA wrestling tournament in the 177-pound weight class and finished fourth. He also finished runner-up at the National AAU and Freestyle and Greco-Roman tournaments that year.

Following college, he entered the Army Airborne and continued to compete, winning number of national tournaments. During the course of his high school, college, and military wrestling career, he compiled an overall record of 323-21 and won 12 tournaments.

In 1955, a Toledo Times story was published which illustrated Wem's strength and courage. "One December, Wem was driving from Cleveland to Toledo when a fierce snowstorm stalled traffic. Wem and his friends found a nearby farmhouse and spent the night, but soon found that over 30 other stranded motorist had done the same. With food and supplies running low, Wem volunteered to hike five miles in heavy snow to the nearest town (Oberlin) for supplies. He returned with over 25 pounds of hamburger and potatoes, which he had carried over his shoulder on the five-mile hike back to the farmhouse"

Wem gives his wrestling teammates a lot of credit for helping make his experience at UT a rewarding one. "There was tremendous fellowship among our team member," he said. "At first, college didn't seem like the place for me, but my teammates kept me in school. They gave me the desire to win."