Class of 2024

Andrew Gardner, Springfield


Hailing from Springfield, Andrew Gardner's journey began at Springfield's Lanphier High School, where he competed for his father, Jim Gardner, a 1986 IWCOA Hall of Fame inductee and 2003 National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum - Illinois Chapter recipient of the Lifetime Service Award, was a four-time qualifier for the IHSA Individual Finals in Class 2A, culminating in a third-place finish at 98 in 1987, a runner-up finish at 112 in 1989, and a state championship at 105 in 1988, with a victory over Geneseo's Darren Cowan to cap a 38-1 season and make him Lanphier's first and only state champion. He was also a nominee for the IWCOA Wrestler of the Year in 1988 and finished his high school career with a record of 151-8 with 85 falls. At the time, that was the 11th-most wins and fifth-most falls in Illinois wrestling history. He was a Cadet Freestyle All-American in 1987 and placed three times at the Freestyle State tournament, wrestling for Team Illinois at the Junior Nationals for those three years. He also guided Team Illinois as the Cadet Freestyle Head Coach in 1997. In addition to his high school successes, He continued to make a mark at Illinois State University from 1989 to 1994. With a full academic scholarship, his collegiate wrestling career was marked by achievements such as being a four-time varsity letter winner and a 1994 NCAA Division 1 National Qualifier. He was Illinois State’s Most Improved Wrestler in 1991 and he led the team in 1992 with the most falls. His impact on the wrestling community extended beyond the mat. With 29 years of coaching experience at high schools in Springfield, including Southeast and Sacred-Heart Griffin, he has left an indelible mark. In 1996, he initiated the wrestling program at Sacred-Heart Griffin. His commitment to fostering wrestling in central Illinois is further evidenced by his role as the Founder and President of the Central Illinois Coaches Coalition (CICC) for 10 years. He also serves on the Executive Board of the IWCOA and played a vital role in organizing and managing the IWCOA Fresh/Soph State series for two decades, for which he received two IWCOA Silver Level Awards. His commitment to the welfare of aspiring wrestlers is exemplified by his coordination of the Jeff Gardner Memorial Scholarship, which has supported nearly 100 wrestlers from central Illinois in pursuing higher education and wrestling at the collegiate level. His multifaceted contributions to the sport and his community led him to be inducted into the Springfield Sports Hall of Fame in 2024.