Class of 2017
University of Illinois
2017 IWCOA Hall of Fame inductee Jim Heffernan graduated from national wrestling powerhouse St. Edward High School in Cleveland, Ohio where he was a two-time individual state champion. His St. Edward teams also won 4 state team championships while Jim compiled a 131-8 overall record that included a 106 match winning streak. While in high school, Jim was also a Junior National Freestyle Champion as a senior in1982 as well as a 1980 2nd place finisher at the World Festival for Cadets.
Jim did his college wrestling at the University of Iowa under head coach and wrestling icon, Dan Gable. At Iowa, Heffernan amassed a 131-18 career record and was a 4 time Big Ten Champion as well as a 4 time NCAA All-American including 3 appearances in the NCAA championship match. Jim was a 1986 NCAA Champion, and as a senior in 1987, he was named Iowa’s Male Athlete of the Year. He was a World Silver Medalist in 1983. Jim served as an Iowa team captain in both 1986 and 1987 and was a member of 4 Big Ten Championship Teams and 3 NCAA Championship Teams.
Heffernan began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at the University of Iowa before becoming as assistant coach at Lehigh University where he helped coach an NCAA champion. After 2 years at Lehigh, Jim went to Oregon State University as an assistant coach to IWCOA Hall of Famer, Mark Johnson. Heffernan and Johnson moved to the University of Illinois in identical roles in 1992. Jim just completed his 25th year of coaching at Illinois, 17 years as an assistant to Johnson and the last 8 as head coach. During this time, Jim was named the NWCA Assistant Coach of the Year in both 1995 and 2002. He helped coach the Illini to a Big Ten Team Championship in 2005, their first such team title in 53 years. During Jim’s 25 years at Illinois, the wrestling program has had 188 NCAA Championship qualifiers, 65 NCAA All-Americans and 11 NCAA individual champions.
Previous to his selection to the IWCOA Hall of Fame Class of 2017, Jim was also inducted into the St. Edward High School Hall of Fame, the Glen Brand Wrestling Hall of Fame and the University of Iowa Athletic Hall of Fame. He currently resides in White Heath, Illinois with his wife of 27 years, Rebecca, their son, Sean, and daughter, Alex.