Two with Science Hill roots to be inducted into National Wrestling HOF
Science Hill High School will add more members to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame this weekend as Science Hill girls wrestling coach Jon Renner and Science Hill alumni Captain Frederick “Erick” Waage will have their names enshrined at the museum in Stillwater, Oklahaoma.
Renner is being inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame for Lifetime Service. This category recognizes individuals for post competitive contribution. Waage – the 2002 state champion at 171 pounds - is being awarded the Outstanding American Award, which recognizes individuals succeeding outside of wrestling due in part to something gained while wrestling.
“These are two great representatives of Science Hill High School and wrestling in the state,” said Science Hill’s Jeff Price, who was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2010. “Jon has done a lot of thankless jobs...Erick is the exact type of kid that anyone wants.”
Renner has been giving back to the sport for over 25 years, first as a referee and then as an assistant for Jefferson County, Carson Newman College and currently Science Hill High School. Renner has been involved from all sides of the sport - the yelling and being yelled at, except that he is one of the quiet guys doing it all out of the spotlight.
“Girl’s wrestling would not even exist in Tennessee if it wasn’t for Jon,” Price said. “He’s been the glue that has held that together.”
Renner was a bit more quiet about the impact he’s had on the sport and harped more on the impact that sport’s had on him.
“I’d rather the girls get the glory,” said Renner, who led the Lady Hilltoppers to the first sanctioned state championship in 2015. “I’m just steering the ship. But it is nice to be well-thought of and it’s really just overwhelming.”
Renner said that wrestling helped mold him into the person he is now, from a 110-pound freshman at Greeneville High School, to an influential instructional-assistant at Science Hill’s Topper Academy.
“I knew early on about the intrinsic satisfaction of helping someone achieve a certain goal,” Renner said. “As I got into wrestling, I wanted to be like my wrestling coach (David Hollowell), because I saw what wrestling did for my life and I wanted to be like my coach.
“I view it more as a calling, not a job. I think that if you go into it as a job, they’re probably 100 other things that you could go do that are less stressful, but not a tenth as rewarding.”
Waage also used the lessons from the mat – and his former high school wrestling coach Jeff Price – to mold a him into a military man that has successfully returned from five deployments in Afghanistan and earned a bronze star.
He attributes the hard practices, sacrifice and “team above self-concepts” to help him endure the physical and mental rigors at the US Army Academy at West Point. Waage advanced through and graduated from US Army Airborne and US Army Ranger Schools. Captain Waage also holds certificates from MIT, University of Pennsylvania Wharton School as well as a Masters from Columbia University.
“My parents prepared me intellectually and they instilled values in me, but then they gave me to Jeff Price who molded me into a good wrestler and provided that mentorship,” Waage said. “And it was that foundation and that grit that have helped me find success in life.
“The discussions that I had with Coach Price on the back of the bus were some very influential discussions on how I view the world.”
Price was the man who pinned Wings on Waage after he graduated from US Army Airborne training and the two still stay in constant contact today.
“He is the exact type of kid that anyone wants,” Price said. “He’s a great example of what kind of kid we are trying to make (through wrestling). He’s taken these lessons and he became a great military officer, he’s a great husband and a great father.”
The ceremony by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, Tennessee Chapter, will be on Saturday, August 18 in Knoxville. The inductees will permanently be enshrined at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma.