The Dream Team of 1947 by Arno Paul Niemand

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Every once in a while something happens in the world of sports that reminds us all why we care about such things.

This book is the remarkable, untold story of the greatest team you’ve never heard of, the wrestling team of Cornell College, a private Methodist liberal arts college with only 415 male students, which won the NCAA wrestling championship in 1947, defeating all the major powers by a substantial margin. This tiny Iowa college thus became the first school outside of the state of Oklahoma ever to win the team championship since teams were officially recognized by the NCAA; no other private school before or since has done so. Not only that, but with the help of the town of Mount Vernon, and a fund-raising drive, the champions traveled to San Francisco and won the equally prestigious National AAU championship two weeks later, thus completing the “grand slam” of amateur wrestling.

The story is informed by the Great Depression and World War II, as well as the GI Bill, which leveled the playing field for several years after the war. It involves a coach direct from central casting, a nurturing small college, three freshmen superstars from the same Iowa high school, and five service veterans, all of whom bonded as a team to defeat all comers.

Were it not for a serious car crash the following year that injured two of its stars, there is no telling how much more the team might have achieved. The Dream Team of 1947 is a classic David and Goliath story that transcends the sport.


About Arno Paul Niemand

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Arno P. Niemand was introduced to wrestling at Mercersburg Academy in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and then wrestled for Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, where he captained the team in his senior year. He was a varsity starter at Cornell University, from which he graduated in 1956. He earned his MBA at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. He is the retired founder of Body Bar Systems, a fitness products company that sponsors USA Wrestling's women's national team. He contributed a feature article on Lowell Lange, one of the wrestlers in this story, to The History of Collegiate Wrestling by Jairus K. Hammond. Niemand has been honored by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame for significant contributions to the sport. He was made an honorary alumnus of Cornell College in 2011. Besides wrestling, running has been a concurrent passion of the author, who was for years a competitive distance runner. He resides in Boulder, Colorado, with his wife, Brenda, and two cats.
Published December 1, 2010 by Arno P. Niemand. 138 pages
Genres: History, Sports & Outdoors. Non-fiction

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