When George Graff is inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Saturday, April 12, he will be joined by another former Morris Area (Hancock) coach, Spencer Yohe.
The National Wrestling Hall of Fame will honor Yohe and Graff, along with six other individuals, at The Minnesota Chapter Banquet in Owatonna.
Yohe, a former Hancock High School teacher and coach, has played an instrumental role over the past 37 years in the recognition and promotion of wrestling. He is currently a junior high coach at Caledonia/Houston. This will be his eighth hall of fame honor.
Yohe has volunteered countless hours to the promotion of amateur wrestling. A 1968 Caledonia High School and 1972 Winona State University graduate, Yohe has served on numerous committees, many in leadership roles, and given back to student athletes with scholarships.
Yohe was a member of the Caledonia wrestling teams that established a state record that still stands today, putting together a consecutive win streak from 1967-1974, for 83 straight dual meet victories. From Caledonia, Yohe attended Winona State University where his love of wrestling flourished under the guidance of Hall of Fame Coach Fran McCann.
Upon graduation from Winona State, Yohe served as an assistant coach at Zumbrota, then Houston High School, for three years. Yohe landed his first full-time teaching and coaching position at Hancock High School in 1974.
Paired with Cyrus for five of those years, his teams accumulated a 120-32-2 mark in 12 years. The Owls were state ranked for five years in a row and won five District 21 titles. Rob Payne won a state title among several state qualifiers and place winners.
Yohe was also a successful volleyball coach with his teams accumulating a 125-18 record in seven years. His 1999 junior high football team was undefeated. The 2004 Hancock High School seniors dedicated their school yearbook in his honor.
In 1982 Yohe won the Minnesota State Elementary Presidential Physical Fitness championship
From the high school ranks Yohe pursued college coaching in wrestling, first at the University of Minnesota, Morris for six years. He spent 10 years at Moorhead State University as assistant under John Sterner. The Dragons won 9 out of 11 NSIC Conference titles during that time and were consistently ranked among the top 15 in the country in NCAA II ranks, producing 25 All Americans and 12 Academic All - Americans. One of Spencer's top recruits was Nate Hendrickson, an NCAA-II National Champion and "OW."
While at Moorhead, Yohe served as an NAIA National Team Cultural Exchange coach on three different trips to the USSR, Guatemala and Poland. In all he coached eight international teams that toured 19 different countries.
Yohe was named first runner-up for "National Assistant Coach of the year" by Wrestling USA magazine.
Yohe finished his coaching career in 2006 in a four-year stint with Morris Area/Hancock. He also served as an assistant coach at Morris Area/Hancock for eight years while coaching at the college.
Yohe's numerous honors and awards include 1993 Distinguished Alumni Award from Winona State University, 1993 Wrestling USA magazine's "State Editor of the year" (he's served as Minnesota Editor for 32 years), 1994 Wrestling USA magazine's "Minnesota Wrestling Man of the Year," and the 2002 MWCA State Media Award.
In 2002 Spencer was elected to the Winona State University's highest honor, the Presidential Medallion Award, presented to only 102 of a possible 46,000 graduates.
Yohe is a member of eight Hall of Fames, some of which are the NAIA National, Wrestling USA Magazine, MWCA Dave Bartelma and Charter member of the Caledonia Wrestling Hall of Fame. He served as Grand Marshall at the 1998 NAIA National Tournament in Las Vagus, Nev.
Beyond all his recognition, Spencer's efforts are remarkable to the sport of wrestling. He is responsible for the establishment and awarding of over 50 scholarships at the Greg Schwartz Memorial Wrestling Camp over the past 17 years. He serves on five Hall of Fame committees and serves as President of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. He is also a longtime column writer for the Guillotine entitled "Where are they Now?"
Yohe currently serves as a substitute teacher and junior high coach at Caledonia-Houston High School. He has owned the Minnesota Mat company for the past 25 years.
Yohe is an all-around sports fan. He especially enjoys Green Bay Packers football and is a season-ticket holder.
"Mr. Yohe's dedication to the values, principals, integrity, culture, and preservation of wrestling is exceeded by few, if any," said Frank Mosier, President of the NWHOF and Museum, and member of the Advisory Board of the New Jersey Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. "In his way, Spencer has carved out a special path for demonstrating his love for the sport."