Wadena High School alumnus to be inducted into MN Wrestling Hall of Fame
Wadena High School alumnus Don Hunke will be inducted into the Minnesota Wrestling Hall of Fame on April 26 in Benson, Minn.
Don attended Wadena High School and graduated in 1955. He attended Moorhead State University graduating in 1959 with a bachelor’s degree in broad science and a minor in social studies.
Don began his teaching career in 1959 at Barrett, Minn., before moving to Parkers Prairie in 1963, where he taught for 30 years before retiring in 1993. His only wrestling experience was attending a few high school matches and then assisting Hall of Fame coach Andy McCarty for four years.
Don coached at Parkers Prairie High School from 1970-1982. He earned a record of 114-43. He won three District 22 championships, and won several Park Region Conference titles. He served as a district representative and a region representative during the first year that the two-class system was created.
Don coached in the always-tough Region 6 and his teams finished second to Stapes twice. He assisted Andy McCarty when current Foley head coach Lyle Freudenberg placed third in 1970. He coached Ken Berres to a state title in the one-class system in 1975.
Don credits three very helpful assistant coaches -- Dave Marietta, Dave Taylor and Rich Schaffer, along with the help of Andy McCarty -- as the keys to his success. McCarty will be inducting Don at the April 26 ceremony.
Don and his wife Mary Ellen, an elementary teacher for 42 years, have lived on Kabekona Lake near Laporte, Minn., the past 20 years. They have five children: Patrick, Michelle, Scott, Nathan and Margarit.
While Don was unable to comment at this time, his son, Pat, who owns Hunke's Transfer of Wadena, said his siblings and their families are planning to attend the induction ceremony.
“We’re bringing a herd down. It’s going to be great,” said Pat, adding, “What’s really fun is the calls from former wrestlers who want to go to the induction for Dad. They say, ‘I loved him. Loved wrestling for him.’ ”
In addition, Don’s grandsons (Pat’s sons), Ryan and Paul, were members of the successful WDC wrestling teams who went to state in 2000 and 2001.
Other 2014 David Bartelma Wrestling Hall of Fame inductees include: Nate Hendrickson, athlete, Menahga graduate; Ron Jacobson, athlete, Owatonna grad; Matt Nagel, athlete, Frazee grad; and coaches Perry Fink, Cottage Grove/Canby; Jon Rhodes, Perham/Harmony and Tokyo, Japan; Randy Zimmer, Milaca; and Rick Rud, contributor/wrestling official.