top of page

Iowa History Daily: February 22 - Harold Nichols & the Cyclone Matmen

Iowa History Daily: On February 22, 1997, legendary Iowa State Cyclones wrestling coach Harold Nichols passed away. Nichols led the Cyclone mat-men to six NCAA team championships and 38 individual titles while leading the program to a 483-94-14 record over 32 seasons.

Born and raised in Cresco, Nichols stood out on the wrestling mat from a young age. After high school he headed to Michigan where he captured the 145-lb national championship in 1939 while wrestling for the legendary coach Cliff Keen. Leaving college to serve as a pilot during World War II, Nichols eventually resumed his studies to complete a PhD at Michigan.

After Iowa State’s Hugo Otopalik died unexpectedly of a heart attack during 1953, Iowa State only interviewed one man to replace him: Harold Nichols. The Cyclones dominated under the new regime, and Nichols managed to lead the Cyclones to top four team finishes in the NCAA every year from 1957 to 1983.

NCAA team champions in 1965, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1973 and 1977, the Cyclones also won seven Big Eight Championships under the direction of Coach Nichols. Standouts, including Dan Gable, captured 38 individual NCAA titles while wrestling for Nichols before he retired in 1985.Named national coach of the year three times, as well as Wrestling Man of the Year by Amateur Wrestling News, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame also inducted Nichols. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


bottom of page