Luther alumni Greg Lonning '84 and Luther assistant wrestling coach Jeff O'Gara will be inducted into the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) Division III Hall of Fame, Thursday, March 9. Lonning will be inducted as a coach and O'Gara for his efforts on the wrestling mat.
The NWCA Hall of Fame Banquet will be held at the La Crosse Center Ballroom and will begin at 6:00 p.m. The induction ceremony will be part of the NCAA III National Championships that will be held at the La Crosse Center, March 10-11. All are invited to attend and tickets will be available at the door for $10.
Lonning served as head coach at UW-La Crosse from 1992-98 and Central College from 1987-89.
While at UW-La Crosse, he compiled a dual meet record of 77-19 and led the Eagles to their first Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) title in school history in 1993 and then again in 1998. He coached 19 NCAA III All-Americans, including three national champions, one being Luther assistant coach Jeff O'Gara. He also coached 19 WIAC champions.
While at Central, he led the Dutch to a 23-10 dual meet record and the 1989 Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC) title. That same year he was named the league's Coach of the Year. He coached 10 All-Americans including the school's first national champion.
Lonning, who was inducted into Luther's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1994, was a three-year letter winner for the Norse. He was a two-time NCAA III All-American at 118-pounds that included a national title in 1983. He also won two IIAC titles and was named the Most Valuable Wrestler at the 1982 All-Lutheran Tournament.
O'Gara wrestled at UW-La Crosse from 1992-96, finishing with a career record of 111-14 that included 58 wins by fall. He ranks tied for 10th on UWL's all-time win list. O'Gara earned three NCAA III All-America awards at 118-pounds, capturing the title in 1996 with an overall record of 34-0. He is the only wrestler in school history to win the national title at 118. O'Gara placed second at the 1994 NCAA III Championship and third in 1993.
In 2012, O'Gara was named to the WIAC All-Time wrestling team, in conjunction with the league's Centennial Celebration. O'Gara won the 118-pound title at the 1994 and 1996 WIAC Championship while finishing second in 1993.
O'Gara has been Luther's assistant wrestling coach for the past 21 years. During this time span, Luther has had 56 All-Americans, nine national champions, five national runner-ups, 50 Scholar All-Americans, two NCAA Postgraduate Scholars, four CoSIDA Scholar All-Americans and two Iowa Conference Male Scholar Athletes of the Year.