April 1, 2013
By John Hirn
Ram Athletes Alumni Association
For the second time in six months a former CSU athlete will be honored by a national hall of fame for his success while at Colorado State University. Julius “Hans” Wagner will be inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame: Colorado Chapter on May 11th in a ceremony at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Colorado Springs. All Ram fans are invited to welcome the CSU great into the hall of fame at the annual banquet.
Wagner ranks as one of the finest wrestlers in school history and a legendary wrestling coach at CSU between 1927 and 1956. The National Wrestling Hall of Fame will posthumously honor Coach Wagner with the first-ever Heritage Lifetime Service Award for his dedication to the sport in Colorado; his daughter, Diana Friel will accept the award for the Wagner family.
Hans Wagner came to the school in 1922 from Westcliffe, Colorado when CSU was known as Colorado Agricultural College and immediately became one of the finest collegiate wrestlers in the heavyweight class during the mid-1920s. Wagner took his 1925 and 1926 conference championship talents and after earning his engineering degree, became the head coach of wrestling at CAC in the fall of 1927.
Wagner’s wrestling teams won or tied 23 conference titles during his 29-year career as head coach of wrestling. He integrated the sport in 1938, took his first team to the NCAA national tournament in 1939 and coached the only CSU wrester to win a national championship, Gene Grenard, in 1940. Wagner’s 1940 wrestling team finished 4th in the nation at the NCAA tournament that year, the highest national wrestling team finish in school history.
Wagner also coached CSU legends Tuffy Mullison, Fum McGraw, Dan Sniff and Ron Day to All-American seasons, served as the President of the American Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association in 1950, was a member of the NCAA National Wrestling Rules Committee and helped bring the NCAA Tournament to the Colorado A&M campus in 1949 and 1952. He posted a 100-43-3 (.707) record as head coach of Aggie wrestling before his retirement in January of 1956. He was succeeded as coach by three of his former athletes, Tuffy Mullison, Fum McGraw and Ollie Woods, who coached Rams wrestling from 1956 to 1972.
Wagner also served as assistant coach of track, assistant coach of football and head coach of football during his 29-year career at CSU as well as being a legendary wrestling coach. He reached all-conference honors in football and track as a student-athlete and is a charter member of the CSU Sports Hall of Fame along with being honored in the Helms Amateur Hall of Fame for Wrestling.
Upon his retirement from athletics Wagner put his engineering degree to use and became the director of construction on the Colorado State University campus from 1956 to 1960. He helped guide the campus construction during some of the heaviest times of the campus’ growth, but tragically was killed in an auto accident that also took his brother’s life in August of 1960. Wagner’s wife Josephine died in 1998 and his son Richard in 2005.
The National Wrestling Hall of Fame: Colorado Chapter invites all CSU fans and former athletes to attend their annual banquet which will honor CSU’s legendary Coach Wagner. The event will be held from 3:30 PM to 8:00 PM at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 2886 South Circle Dr. in Colorado Springs on Saturday May 11th. Reservations are $55.00 per person and can be purchased on the phone by calling Phil Grasmick 303-263-7880 or visiting www.nwhof-co.org to purchase online.
Wagner will become the first CSU athlete and coach to be honored by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, an honor he certainly deserves more than 50 years after he coached.