McFarland will be inducted into the Michigan Wrestling Association Hall of Fame
// Leah Howard
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Former University of Michigan head wrestling coach Joe McFarland will be inducted into the Michigan Wrestling Association (MVA) Hall of Fame, it was announced recently. The induction ceremony will be held on Saturday, Nov. 5, in conjunction with the Fall Wrestling Coaches Clinic in Ann Arbor.
McFarland, also a member of the Michigan Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, will be inducted along with Dave Mills (Forest Hills Central HS, Grand Valley State), Dennis Paquette (Bangor HS) and Mike Vanderhide (Tri County HS).
McFarland retired in 2018 after 19 years at the helm of the Michigan wrestling program. Under his leadership, the Wolverines won three Big Ten back-to-back titles (2004, ’05, ’06) and earned 11 NCAA top-10 finishes, including an NCAA runner-up performance in 2005 and a fourth-place finish in his final season in 2018. He made a record 214 -105-6, ranking third among Michigan coaches behind legendary head coach Cliff Keen (274, 1926-42, ’46-70) and his own collegiate coach, Dale Bahr (221-1979). ).
McFarland has led 31 different student-athletes to five NCAA individual titles, 60 All-America citations and 19 Big Ten individual crowns. Among McFarland’s most decorated students were two-time NCAA champion and four-time Big Ten champion Kellen Russell (2008-09, ’11-12), two-time NCAA champion and four-time All-American Ryan Bertin (2002-05), NCAA champion and three-time All-American Steve Luke (2006-09) and four-time All-American Eric Tannenbaum (2005-08).
As a wrestler for the Wolverines (1981-82, ’84-85), McFarland himself was a four-time NCAA All-American and a two-time NCAA finalist at 126 pounds (1984, ’85). He finished fifth (1981) and sixth (1982) in his first two national championship appearances. Serving as team captain in each of his final two seasons, McFarland helped lead the Wolverines to a fifth-place finish at the 1985 NCAA Championships.
His 166-24-4 career record ranks third behind John Fisher (183 wins) and Otto Olson (175), while his 48 wins during the 1983-84 season were the most in a single season by a Michigan wrestler. Won the Big Ten crown in 1984 and reached the conference finals all four seasons. McFarland also won the prestigious Midlands Championship in 1982 and 1983.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in 1985, McFarland began a successful international wrestling career. He was a silver medalist at the 1986 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. McFarland won a bronze medal at the 1987 Tbilisi tournament before winning the 1988 World Championships, where he defeated Soviet Union world champion Khazar Isiev in the gold medal match. McFarland was also named Outstanding Wrestler of the 1988 USA-USSR Duals in Orlando, Florida.