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Coach Richard Holtfreter - A New Era

Richard Holtfreter began his coaching career in Harvard as an assistant to John Sciacca in 1963. He provided the support to keep the program growing in numbers and in scope. Both of the tournaments Harvard started during that time could not have happened without Dick organizing and running those events. He was constantly promoting wrestling, especially through his P.E. classes at the high school.
Coach Holtfreter also began the Jr. High program, first through an intramural event and from that, the formal interscholastic team evolved. The “novel” concept of Spring tournaments and off season training was also started by Dick.  Upon the retirement of Coach Sciacca, Mr. Holtfreter became Harvard’s 4th head coach in 1979.
The program transitioned without skipping a beat. In his first season he posted a 12-2 record and a Regional Championship. The two class system in Illinois was still relatively new and Holtfreter’s teams thrived on a state wide level.  In 1983 Harvard won its first State Championship under Coach Holtfreter’s leadership. The Hornets qualified 5 wrestlers to the state meet that year and 3 of them wrestled in the finals. Dan Muehl and David Holtfreter (Dick’s son) finished second and Jeff Putnam became Harvard’s first Individual State Champion.
Championships are not won with three wrestlers and Coach Holtfreter was always quick to remind you that it takes the support of the whole team all year long to get to that level.  The team work that he instilled carried the Hornets through the next transition to the Dual Team format to crown the IHSA State Champions. In Holtfreter’s final season the team found themselves back in the 1987 championship match before losing to Rockridge to finish in second place.

Through his tenure as head coach of the Hornets, Coach Holtfreter compiled an impressive record, 159-34-2 (82%). His success as a coach cannot be measured merely by the number of wins his teams accumulated but by the groundwork he laid for the future success of the program. Both of his sons (Mark & David) wrestled for him, but he treated all his wrestlers like sons. He strove to instill in them a sense of respect of themselves and others, loyalty to their teammates and above all a great work ethic.

Coach Holtfreter passed away in 2010.
1987 IHSA State Runner-Up Team