STILLWATER, Okla. - A former Estherville wrestler received one of the highest honors one can receive in the sport this past Saturday.
Al Billings, who wrestled three years in high school at Estherville in the 1960s, was inducted to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame (Iowa Chapter) in Stillwater, Okla.
Billings went on to wrestle four years at Winona State University in Winona, Minn., where he earned his undergraduate degree in 1972.
Al Billings, who wrestled for Estherville High School in the 1960s, was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame on Saturday, Oct. 27 in Stillwater, Okla.
His professional journey started at Central Clinton, DeWitt, where he taught and coached football and wrestling for six seasons. He then spent one year at Dallas Center-Grimes before moving to Belle Plaine, where he was the head wrestling coach for 18 seasons before moving into administration at North Cedar, Stanwood.
Throughout his career he has been commended for the excellence he inspires in young people in the wrestling room or in athletics and the high standard of success he holds for himself.
For starters, his team posted a dual record of 197-89-2, a 77.74 winning percentage.
At Belle Plaine, his teams produced a 147-67-4 record. Six times his teams finished in the top 10 at the traditional state tournament. He coached 122 state qualifiers with 57 state meet place winners and seven champions.
He is a former Class 1A State Coach-of-the-Year, was active in the IWCOA in leadership roles, served on the USA Wrestling Advisory Board and an active clinician. Billings coached the 1994 Iowa Cadet Team on their tour of Turkey and in 2007 was the team leader of the USA Junior World Team at the World Championships in China. He is also a highly sought official and worked the Olympic Trials and numerous national tournaments.
His "paying it forward impact" is seen in that 15 of his former athletes are now coaches. As a principal at North Cedar, he was a volunteer coached and helped with the development of individuals like Matt Fields, a former state champion, junior national champion and an NCAA All-American.
Even now in retirement he continues to stay involved in the sport. Living in South Carolina, he has been a volunteer coach at Seneca High School and highly establish West Oak High School in Westminster, S.C.