Class of 2014
Providence | Carl Sandburg
Ben Gerdes started his wrestling career at age six for the Orland Park Pioneers. He was first eligible to wrestle in the Illinois Kids Wrestling Federation State Championship series at age 10, when he won his first IKWF State Championship. For the next three years, he was a finalist, winning one more title.
Gerdes then followed his older brother Ken, III, a two-time Illinois State Champion (IHSA), to Providence Catholic High School (New Lenox) where he wrestled for Hall of Fame coach, Mike Polz. As a freshman, he placed third and fifth as a sophomore. Gerdes followed Coach Polz when he took the head coaching position at
Carl Sandburg (Orland Park). For the Eagles he took third as a junior and as a senior was the IHSA state finalist at 145lbs. Ben was the first four-time Al Dvorak Memorial Tournament Champion, a four time IHSA State qualifier and a four time place winner with a career high school record of 173-10.
In 1992, Gerdes was the USA Wrestling (USAW) Cadet Freestyle 132lb. National Champion, and he won the Bronze medal at the FILA Cadet World Championships in Istanbul, Turkey. He was the USAW Junior Freestyle 132lb runner-up his junior year, and he placed third his senior year at 143lbs. Gerdes was the World Team Trials Champion, and wrestled on the USA Wrestling Freestyle Junior World team, where he took fifth at the FILA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
Gerdes continued his wrestling career at Lassen College (Susanville, CA) and wrestled for Hall of Fame coach Rex Branum. He won the 1995 NJCAA title at 141 lbs. and helped lead the Cougars to the NCJAA National Championship. Gerdes finished his college career at Lock Haven University (Pennsylvania), winning the Eastern Wrestling League (EWL) Conference Championship and was an NCAA Division I National Qualifier for the Eagles.
Ben returned to wrestling as a coach in 2002, succeeding IWCOA Hall of Fame coach Bill Weick in 2003 as head coach at Mount Carmel High School (Chicago). During that time, Gerdes coached 15 IHSA All State wrestlers and 6 IHSA State Champions. His Caravan teams won 4 IHSA Regional Championships, had 3 Dual Team Sectional Runner Up finishes and a Chicago Catholic League Championship.
After leaving Mount Carmel in 2007, Ben went became an assistant coach at Marian Catholic High School (Chicago Heights) from 2007-2010. Gerdes is now the head coach of the Celtic Elite Wrestling Club (New Lenox) and coaches his son, Owen. Ben, his wife Mandy, and their three children, 10-year-old twins, Kate and Owen and Molly (8), live in New Lenox.
Gerdes has recently started his own business, a public adjusting firm called Oak Public Adjustment Inc.