Dan Russell — who currently lives in Battle Ground, an assistant coach on the Tigers high school wrestling team, and is also the senior pastor at the Battle Ground Foursquare Church — was inducted into the NCAA II Wrestling Hall of Fame last week in Alabama.
Russell wrestled for Portland State University and made an immediate impact on the team. As a true freshman in 1988 he did the unexpected and won the national championship. His next three years also ended with national championships, making him a four-time winner, one of the very few to ever do so. During those years his Portland State teams also finished first twice and seventh twice.
During Russell’s collegiate career his overall record was 130-22- 5. He was also the first NCAA II wrestler to be named the Most Outstanding Wrestler at the championship for three consecutive years. In addition to his work at the Division II level, Russell also earned All-American honors in Division I. Twice he placed fourth (in 1990 and 1991) and he holds the distinction of being the last NCAA II wrestler to medal at the NCAA I nationals.
“You set goals, but not to become a hall of famer,” said Russell. “You do it just to compete on the mat. Everyone of us (other inductees) felt honored.”
Besides Russell, seven other members were inducted into the Hall of Fame, and all seven were teammates of his at Portland State. It was the first time all the inductees of a class were from the same program.
“It’s a special thing to be given an award, but it’s even better to stand among teammates and be honored,” said Russell.
At the event, Russell said he enjoyed seeing all those old teammates and reminiscing.
“All the stories we have together get so much better the older we get,” he said.
Though he said the recognition was flattering, Russell admits his mindset is always on the next future.
“We’re all looking forward to the new journeys in front of us, we all have a wrestling match ahead of us of some kind in life,” he said. “There are always more battles to fight.”