Class of 2002
A Kewanee native and three-sport standout at Wethersfield High School, Walt Gerber didn’t start wrestling until college. He began playing football at the University of Illinois and then moved on to Western Illinois University, where he took up the sport of wrestling. Between brief coaching stints at Kewanee and Keithsburg, Walt was a three time National Wrestling Champ while in the Army.
Walt started at Rock Island as an assistant from 1960 through 1971, during that period that Rocks won the 1967 State Title. He became the head coach in 1971. During his 16 seasons as head coach, the Rocks were tri-chaps of the Western Big Six Conference twice, the district title in 1972 and posted a pair of top-ten finishes at state. He had 13 place winners, three of whom were champions. One of his former wrestlers became the first four time national champion in college wrestling.
This year, the Rock Island Junior Rocks Wrestling Club renamed its annual tournament “The Walt Gerber Open.”