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Meet the 2003 Grand Marshals

Three Grand Marshals will lead the annual Parade of Champions Saturday night (March 15) before the championship bouts of the 24th annual Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA) State Final Wrestling Tournament.

Named Grand Marshals for 2003 are:

The IESA started having Grand Marshals in 1996. The Grand Marshals are honored for their contributions to wrestling at the junior high school level and the young men who participate in the sport. They are nominated by the IESA Wrestling Advisory Committee and approved by the IESA Board of Directors. The marshals will play an integral role of the Parade of Champions as they will lead the 36 individual finalists and their coaches into the Convocation Center, amidst music, applause and cheers from teammates, parents, family, and fans.

Here is a closer look at the 2003 Grand Marshals:

John Pine has been involved with the sport of wrestling since he was a freshman at Clinton High School. He was a three year varsity letterman and co-captain his senior year. During his senior season, John led Clinton to a perfect 22-0 dual team record. After high school, John attended Illinois Wesleyan University where he was a letterman on the IWU wrestling team. He earned his bachelor degree from IWU and his master's degree in educational administration from Eastern Illinois University. John has served as the head coach at Clinton Jr. High School since 1993. During his 10 year tenure, he has coached 64 state qualifiers, 30 state place winners, 10 runners-up and 4 IESA champions. His team placed third in the IESA in 1994 and 4th in 1998 and has placed in the top 10 five times. He served on the IESA wrestling advisory committee from 1993-1997 and is currently a member of the IWCOA. John teaches 6th grade at Maroa Grade School and also serves as assistant to the principal. He and his wife Kelly are the parents of three daughters, Jill, Abbi, and Molly. An avid runner who plans to compete in his 4th Chicago marathon later this year, John has enjoyed the camaraderie of a "brotherhood of wrestlers" that has developed over the years. His greatest goal as a wrestling coach is to help build young athletes into ethical and moral people who will strive to reach their goals and contribute to society.

Although he coached at one of the smallest schools that enters the IESA state wrestling series, Tony Zens had a large amount of success. His teams from Ingleside Taveirne started wrestling in the IESA in 1982 and he had 70 state qualifiers, 28 state placers, and 7 state champions. Thirteen of his former wrestlers went on to qualify for the IHSA state finals and four were NCAA All-Americans. A graduate of Waukegan High School, Tony was a two-year varsity letter winner in wrestling and wrestled on the 1958 IHSA state championship team coached by the legendary Hall of Famer Ott Bay. After high school, Tony went on to Cameron Junior College and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where he was a starting guard for each school's football team. After a brief stint working in the recreation department for the city of Evanston, Tony began his teaching and coaching career at Taveirne Middle School in 1969. After thirty-three years of devotion to the students at Taveirne, he retired last year. In addition to coaching wrestling, he also coached basketball, track, football and baseball. He and his wife of 39 years, Marlene, are the parents of three children, Cheryl, Michael, and Lisa. They also have three grandchildren.

An IHSA licensed official for 30 years, Mike Wilkey has received numerous honors and awards during his distinguished officiating career. In 1997, he was inducted into the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association (IWCOA) Hall of Fame. He was named the IWCOA "Official of the Year" in 2000 and served as a member of the IWCOA Executive Board from 1986-1987 and from 1999 until the present. He will be the next President of the IWCOA. Mike has officiated eight IESA state final tournaments, 14 IHSA individual state finals, seven IHSA dual team finals, and is currently one of six IHSA wrestling clinicians. In addition to officiating wrestling, Mike also is a soccer official and has worked four state finals in soccer. He served as a member of the IESA wrestling advisory committee during the 1997-98 and 1998-99 school years. Mike graduated high school from Stephen Decatur High School in Decatur, IL. From there, he received his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois. Today, Mike is the founding partner of TechSavants, Inc. a consulting engineering firm specializing in environmental and energy research and development. Mike's education roots run deep as both his mom and dad were teachers. Mike has three children, Benjamin (married to Buffy), Julie (married to Dave Semyck), and Phillip and is engaged to be married to Susan Dziedzic next year.

Past Grand Marshals
1996 Robert Gatrell, Bloomington, Former Executive Director of the IESA
1997 Bill Marquardt, Bloomington, Official & Arch Richoz, DeKalb, Coach
1998 Mike Manahan, Bloomington, Coach & Mike Pastiak, Burr Ridge, Coach
1999 Ron Karnopp, Quincy, Coach & Dave Ulstad, New Lenox, Coach
2000 Joe Pedersen, Darien, Official, Principal, & Coach
2001 Dan Farinosi, Hoffman Estates, Official & Jim Moxley, Mahomet-Seymour,Coach
2002 Jim Rankin, Clifton, Administrator and Coach & Dave Brost, New Lenox, Official

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