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Iowa History Daily: February 24 - Iowa's First Four-Timer

Iowa History Daily: On February 24, 1962, Britt High School’s Bob Steenlage became Iowa’s first four-time high school wrestling state champion. Overcoming a back injury during his senior year, Steenlage became the first of thirty-two ‘four timers,’ and no one matched the feat for 17 years after Steenlage’s historic run.

Known as ‘The Pencil,’ Steenlage first captured a state title at 95-pounds as a freshman during 1959 with a 2-0 result. Moving up to 103-pounds as a sophomore, he captured the title with a 4-0 result. A champion at 112-pounds during his junior season, all eyes turned to Steenlage as he prepared to do what no Iowa wrestler had managed to do before while wrestling at 120-pounds.

During Steenlage’s senior year he spent four weeks on the sidelines with a back injury most believed was career-ending, and only began to work out again ten days before the tournament started. In the match before his bid for his fourth title Steenlage separated his shoulder, but he managed to win on a referee’s decision by riding time to become the state’s first four-time champion.

Boasting a career record at Britt of 74-7-5, Steenlage went on to wrestle at the United States Military Academy at West Point. A two-time NCAA qualifier at 130 pounds while placing third at 123 pounds in 1966, Steenlage left an important legacy as Iowa’s first ‘four-timer.’ “I did lots of farm work and running to prepare me, but my biggest asset was my determination and learning how to think positively at all times on and off the mat,” Steenlege said in the book ‘Fighting Back.’ #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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