Coach ⋅ Class of 1980
Danville High School
Les originated in Litchfield, Illinois, where he participated in Football, Basketball and Track. After serving in World War I, he enrolled at the University of Illinois and played football. Being a physical education major, he got involved in wrestling during his senior year of college. Following graduation in 1926, he moved to Danville where he was involved in the elementary physical education sector. In 1929, he moved to Danville High School where he immediately created a Wrestling program. For the first 15 years of coaching wrestling he did not receive any pay, teams were few and far between, but it was Les’ philosophy about wrestling “that it was the driving force. Wrestling was always a means to an end, never an end in itself”.
Les was instrumental in changing the lifestyle of many young men, some of whom had wrestling success, and in other endeavors.
Les coached 4 state champions, and other place winners of which Tom Smerdel Big 10 champion, Ralph Cundiff, and to those of us in the suburbs two of his better known wrestlers were Billy and Bob Mann.
Les can certainly be numbered among those who pioneered wrestling in the State of Illinois.