Class of 2013
Gary Hunt attended Douglas MacArthur High School in Decatur, Illinois which opened in the fall of 1957, but the wrestling program did not start until the 1958 school year. The first year team was undefeated in dual meet competition and Hunt only lost 2 individual matches in the 58-59 seasons, one in the IHSA District and one in the Sectional. Hunt’s overall record for his junior and senior years was 21 wins and 6 losses and was Co-Captain and was named to the All-City team both years.
In addition Hunt played three years of Varsity football and was elected Tri-Captain, and selected to the All-City team his senior year, three years of varsity baseball and was elected co-captain his senior year. He earned eight varsity letters while at MacArthur. Hunt also played one season of basketball before the wrestling program was started.
In 1960 Hunt attended Missouri Valley College. At that time there was no interscholastic wrestling program. Hunt and a group of 10 – 12 others that had wrestled in High School and were interested in getting a program started. Their objective was to show the administration that there was sufficient interest in wrestling to start a wrestling program. During the winters of 1961 and 1962 they worked out two to three times a week on the mats and with weights.
In the fall of 1962 Missouri Valley College started a wrestling program. The coach for that first season was the legendary Missouri Valley Football Coach, Volney C. Ashford. During the summer of 1962 he married his wife Ginger and by start of the wrestling season was expecting his first child. He was able to wrestle in the first dual meet, which he won by fall in the second period but shortly after this had to withdraw from the team in order to support his family.
The Missouri Valley College Wrestling program has had two N.A.I.A. National Championship Teams (1996 & 1997) and the program has also produced numerous Individual Men’s and Women’s National Champions over a 50 year period. Hunt is proud to have been a small part of this highly successful program.
While at Missouri Valley, Hunt was a four-year starter and letterman in football, and a three-year starter and letterman in baseball.
In 1967 after coaching two years in Missouri, and one year at Illiopolis (IL) he was named head wrestling coach at Lakeview High School, a position he held for 15 years until the school closed in 1982. During the first five years, he was the only wrestling coach at the school. Hunt’s varsity record for the 15 years at Lakeview was 188-60-3. When the school closed in 1982, Hunt transferred to Douglas MacArthur High School and coached there for three seasons. Hunt’s record at MacArthur was 12-20-2 with an 18 year overall record was 200-80-5.
During 18 years as head wrestling Coach Hunt was named the Decatur Area Coach of the Year four times, 1972, 1977, 1981, and 1982.
While at Lakeview Hunt produced several IHSA District Champions, Sectional Qualifiers, and one two-time Sectional Champion Heavyweight James Wills.
He served as district representative, 1975-1985, to the IHSA Wrestling Advisory Committee. During the 1981 meeting he presented, in writing, the three-class system for the IHSA State Wrestling. A structure very similar to the proposal Hunt made in 1981 was adopted and began in 2009.
Shortly after going to Lakeview, Hunt became a registered official with the IHSA with the purpose of to be able to better interpret the rules for his wrestlers and to better understand the sport from an official’s standpoint.
While at Lakeview, Hunt also began working with the local IKWF program. Through that relationship he was able to bring two IKWF State Championships to Decatur. He served as Head Scorer and Facility Manager and as the IKWF Central Section Director for 2 years.
Hunt organized a parent group to support the Lakeview wrestling program and to help with development of knowledgeable individuals that could assist with spring and summer tournaments. During the season he asked them to help as timers and scores during freshmen, JV, and Varsity Dual Meets. The group also held fund raisers to offset the travel costs in spring and summer. This group became a very strong advocate for the wrestling program. In 1981 the Board of Education announced that Major Cuts would have to be made and Wrestling was on the chopping block. Hunt called a meeting of the group and ask them to contact the wrestling parents at the other 3 schools and encourage them to voice their objections to cutting the wrestling program. The next board meeting was “standing room only”! The parents provided very positive support for the wrestling program it became a win or lose situation. The board voted to keep the wrestling programs, however, in the end the board voted to close selected schools with Lakeview as the selected high school.
In 1985 Hunt took an administrative position and, by district policy, could not coach. At that time Hunt reactivated his wrestling official’s license. He worked a full schedule of dual meets and tournaments and when not officiating ran numerous tournaments for schools and conferences throughout central Illinois, on the computer
During his tenure Hunt encouraged his wrestlers to take part in spring and summer wrestling tournaments and clinics. Hunt hosted numerous IKWF and high school age freestyle Tournaments offering summer school wrestling classes open to all students, both in and out of District 61, grades six through 11. Hunt taught the fundamentals of Freestyle, Greco-Roman, and Folkstyle wrestling and as a part of the classes would take those who wanted to travel to the summer tournaments. Every weekend, when not hosting a tournament, Hunt took wrestlers and traveled the state to various tournaments. While the athletes wrestled, Hunt put on a striped shirt and volunteered as an official.
In order to generate interest in scholastic wrestling Hunt took a group of wrestlers to the local elementary schools and put on demonstrations for the students. During the season he would designate one dual as
Elementary Night and elementary students with a parent were admitted free. Hunt also scheduled one dual meet during the school day, at the High School, so that the student body would see the wrestling team in action.
He approached the Decatur board of education and encouraged them to begin a Wrestling program in the four feeder Middle Schools. The board approved the proposal and provided a mat for our feeder school to save the cost of a new mat.
In 2011, Hunt was inducted into the Missouri Valley College Athletic Hall of Fame along with the members of the 1962 undefeated, nationally ranked (19th) football team.
In 2012 he was inducted into the Missouri Valley College Athletic Hall of Fame for the 1962 Baseball team. This was the first Baseball team to play for M.V.C. in over 30 years. The team won the Conference Championship, in the first year of competition and qualified for the N.A.I.A. National Playoffs. (One of 16 teams Nationwide). A stellar baseball player, Hunt received an N.A.I.A. award for Lowest E.R.A (0.067) after 15 innings pitched and was credited with six of the 11 conference victories that lead Missouri Valley to the N.A.I.A. national playoffs.
In 1997 Hunt received the Illinois Board of Education Those Who Excel “Award of Excellence” (the highest award that can be presented to an Illinois Building Administrator). He received the “Talented Tenth Award’ for the elevation of Minority Students, presented by the College Futures Program. Hunt was a CPR Instructor-trainer and member of the Basic Life Support steering committee for the American Heart Association. He was responsible for the training of CPR instructors who, over an eight-year period, trained and certified over 10,000 high school students in Basic CPR
Hunt along with his wife Ginger, operates a small stained glass and custom woodworking business. They currently volunteer as campground hosts in the Missouri State Park System. He also teaches Hunter Education and Hunter Safety for the Missouri Conservation Department.
He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa fraternity and member of the Executive Board; a Member of the Decatur Education Association, The Association of Building Administrators, Illinois Deans’ Association, Illinois Principals Association, National Education Association (Life Member), Macon 8 Masonic Lodge.
Hunt now retired has active hobbies of trout fishing, hunting, golf, and traveling.