Founding Coach Celebrates Program's 50th Anniversary
Richard Kiedrowski and approximately 30 former Whitnall wrestlers honored before team's dual with Wauwatosa on Wednesday.
When John Quinlan took over the Whitnall wrestling program in 1984, he was a 20-year-old without any head-coaching experience, was expecting to be an assistant that season and got the job just four days before the season’s first match.
Thankfully, Quinlan had a seasoned pro he could turn to in times of need.
Richard Kiedrowski, the program’s founding coach, taught physical education at Whitnall for 35 years before retiring in 1995. He was the perfect crutch for Quinlan to lean on.
“He could have just said I don’t do that anymore and be done with it, but he always came around, asked about the kids, gave a couple pointers on stuff I didn’t know,” Quinlan said Wednesday when the wrestling program celebrated its 50th anniversary. “He just helped me along, showed me the ropes.”
Kiedrowski had years of experiences to draw on. He founded the program in 1960 and coached for 17 years. He said he had around 22 wrestlers for the initial season in 1960-61.
“It was something I wanted to get into and as you get into it more and more, you keep learning as you go along,” said Kiedrowski, now 73 years old. “We just kept building from there. We started with young kids and by the time they were juniors and seniors they were all pretty decent.”
Kiedrowski and his wife Margaret still live in Greenfield. They try to make it to one or two matches each season.
They were there for Whitnall’s 59-12 home win over Wauwatosa on Wednesday on along with nearly 30 former Whitnall wrestlers including Paul Zizzo, the Falcons’ only four-time state qualifier; John Zelinski, the school’s only two-time state champion; and Ryan Strong, who owns the school record with 52 wins in 2005.
Kiedrowski said the program has come a long way.
“Just to get the kids interested in the sport and in the program,” was a challenge, he said. “As we kept on going, we got more and more kids. We got younger brothers and cousins and what have you. That’s what you need to get going."