No need to wrestle with finding the facts about Gregg Stensgard. Just ask his mom.
Betty Stensgard, 91, of Fargo, is mighty proud of her son. That’s why she sent Neighbors a pile of newspapers clippings about him.
Gregg is a wrestler. He wrestled in high school (Fargo South), in college (North Dakota State University) and he was in the international arena, where he racked up records.
He was a two-time All-American at NDSU, and he was assistant coach there when it won the Division II national title in 1988. Before that, he was a successful wrestling coach at a high school in Utah, where the local newspapers reported he was considered “one of the best wrestling coaches in the state.”
To pin this all down, at his mom’s suggestion, Neighbors asked Gregg to provide specifics.
He wrote that he was the fifth of eight sons of Betty and Orlyen Stensgard. All eight boys played football and ran track at either Fargo South or Fargo Central High School, and all of them participated in wrestling, football or track at NDSU.
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Gregg was 8 when he started wrestling in the Fargo city league. He competed in American Legion tournaments; his father had helped the Legion host many sporting events, including wrestling.
“My mother only missed one of my high school matches during my high school career,” Gregg wrote. “She also drove me to the national tournaments; we lived out of the car until we arrived at our destination.
“I wrestled in junior high at Agassiz during my elementary and junior high years and showed a high level of success. I was undefeated through junior high. I was one of two freshmen (the other was Robin Johnson) to be the first to make the Fargo South team in 1974.
“At South, I wrestled under Jerry Larson and Lynn Forde. Coach Larson had built the team to be one of the state’s top ones. We were state team runners-up in 1974-1977; then Eastern District Conference champions two times and region team champions four times.
“I was able to make the state finals as a sophomore, and won titles in my junior and senior years with a record of 117-11. I was undefeated in 1977, my senior season.
“I also played football and wrestled in the freestyle tournaments in the spring. I was nominated as a high school All-American in 1977.
“During high school, I was the only wrestler from North Dakota to attend the junior national. I placed third in 1976 and 1977 and earned the right to represent the USA on the juniors team in 1976 to Germany and France.
“During that trip, I had my first chance to wrestle Greco Roman, which I found I had a natural feel for. I recorded a record of 17-2 and placed second in the Europe juniors tournament.
“I wrestled for the Bison from 1978 to 1982 under legendary coach Bucky Maughan,” Gregg writes.
“During my tenure there, I qualified for the national tournament all four years and earned All-American honors in 1982, when I recorded 99 wins. I was nominated as a freshman All-American as the top freshman at 158 pounds in 1979. I was a three-time NCC finalist and five times Bison open finalist — two times champion.”
Gregg earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education and a master’s degree in athletes administration at NDSU.
Gregg began his career in the senior Greco Roman division in 1978, working with some of the best wrestlers in the country. He won several national titles, qualified for the world team and racked up more honors.
He began his coaching career at NDSU under Bucky from 1983 to 1994. The Bison won its first NCAA national championship in 1988, plus 11 NCC conference titles.
He says he was fortunate Bucky recognized his love of wrestling and being a Bison.
“One of the accomplishments I was most proud of was helping Bucky get the USA Junior nationals to come to Fargo, where my duties were to be head of security and other minor duties,” he says.
“I was able to start the Bison wrestling club that has helped many wrestlers to be able to compete in the Greco and freestyle national tournament. During those years we had many wrestlers earn All-American status in both Greco and freestyle.”
On to Utah
Gregg moved to Vernal, Utah, in 1994 and has been a high school wrestling coach there for 25 years. He’s also helped coach football, softball and volleyball.
He teaches weight training at the high school, where he also is one of the strength coaches. He’s also host of a radio program called “The Coaches Show,” on which he and coaches talk about teams and sporting events.
The list of awards he’s won at Vernal would take up most of this page. But suffice to say, he was state coach of the year several times and led Vernal teams and individual students to many titles.
Besides all his sports awards, he was Utah’s Marine civilian of the year in 2014.
He married his wife Stephanie in 1997. They have three daughters, Stevie, Summer and Sydney, all of whom were excellent athletes in high school. One of those girls played softball at Salt Lake (Utah) Community College. The team’s name? Bruins, which for her dad was just like back home at South.
Gregg still wrestles in practice.
And he still looks back to the years 1982 through 1984 when he wrestled three live bears at the Bison Sports Arena, and later, when he wrestled Russian bears.
Gregg doesn’t say, but it can be assumed the bears didn’t stand a chance. At least, that’s what Gregg’s mom no doubt would say.
If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107, fax it to 701-241-5487 or email email@example.com.