WAVERLY — Wartburg College will honor legendary emeritus wrestling coach Jim Miller with the dedication of the Jim Miller Championship Mat during the annual “Battle of the Burgs” dual Feb. 1 when the second-ranked Knights host top-ranked Augsburg.
Miller came to Wartburg in 1991 and amassed a career record of 413-37-2, winning 10 NCAA Division III team championships, 21 consecutive Iowa Conference championships and seven National Wrestling Coaches Association National Duals championships before stepping down after the 2013 season.
While winning all those titles, Miller coached 37 individual national champions, 147 All-Americans and 72 NWCA Academic All-Americans.
Miller wrestled at Northern Iowa, where he had a 128-22 record while winning NCAA Division II championships in 1974 and 1975. After coaching at the high school level, he was the top assistant coach at UNI from 1983-91. He has been inducted into six halls of fame, including NWCA Divisions II and III and Glen Brand Wrestling.
The mat is being renamed to honor a $50,000 gift from Wartburg supporters Gary and Donna Hoover of Scottsdale, Ariz. Gary, a retired engineer, also is a member of the college’s Board of Regents and Engineering Science National Advisory Board.
“I am humbled that the Hoovers wanted to put the mat in my name. Obviously, coaching at Wartburg was the highlight of my career,” Miller said. “The fact that this will be done during the ‘Battle of the Burgs’ makes it even more special since this has been the highlight match of Division III wrestling for decades.
“Gary and Donna have been great supporters of our athletic department and Wartburg in general.”
The Hoovers are the namesake of Walston-Hoover Stadium, and the track area of the Wartburg-Waverly Sports & Wellness Center also is named in their honor. In addition, the couple established the Gary and Donna Hoover Distinguished Professorship in Engineering Science.
“Wartburg wrestling is a treasure for Wartburg College and an ideal we should all aspire to. I am so glad and honored to have a sideline part in it,” Gary Hoover said, adding that his family’s gift also recognizes the continued success of Miller’s successor, Eric Keller.
The Hoovers’ gift has been used to purchase new practice mats in the wrestling room.