Class of 2023

John Wise, Pittsfield/University of Illinois Wrestler

John Wise began wrestling in 2nd grade, thanks to the Pittsfield, Illinois IKWF club. He continued to work hard and improved, traveling to local and regional tournaments with his father, Joe. Throughout John’s career, Joe encouraged his son to always finish out his seasons when he felt like quitting. John’s parents never missed a match. John also lettered in Track & Field while at Pittsfield.

As a sophomore in high school, John placed second at the IHSA tournament. The loss proved a powerful motivator; he decided to go to the renowned J Robinson Wrestling Camp in Minnesota, where he was able to tap into the mental and physical discipline required to come back and win. He became a two-time state champion, four-time regional champion, and three-time sectional champion. John holds the Pittsfield High School record for pins, wins, and win percentage. John compiled a career record of 148-6. He also earned all-conference honors in football and was named Most Valuable Defensive Player as well as Male Athlete of the Year in 2003 and 2004 at Pittsfield High School.

Wise began his collegiate athletic career at Western Illinois University playing football as a defensive lineman. He transferred to University of Illinois in 2005 and began wrestling as heavyweight under legendary coaches Mark Johnson and Jim Heffernan, both IWCOA Hall of Fame Inductees. His return to the sport he loved was a great choice; John became a three-time National Qualifier and All-American in 2009.

In his 2006-07 season he qualified for the NCAA Championships after placing seventh at the Big Ten Championships. The following season he was ranked in the top 20 of the NWCA/Intermat poll all season, ascending as high as No. 11. John qualified for the NCAA Championships after finishing fifth at the Big Ten Championships. During his final season he earned his All-American honor, finishing seventh at the NCAA Championships. He qualified automatically for the NCAA Championships with a third-place finish at the Big Ten Championships. John finished his career tied for 24th on the career wins list at the University of Illinois.

After his wrestling career concluded, John had a brief tryout with the New England Patriots football team.

The greatest win of his life was marrying his wife Ellie with whom he has three wonderful children. The Wise family lives in Galesburg, Illinois.