Though his name now adorns one of the most prominent venues in college sports, legendary University of Kentucky basketball coach Adolph Rupp’s early career saw him come to Marshalltown High School to coach an entirely different sport – wrestling.
Rupp’s history with MHS brought a group of Kentucky Sports Radio personalities to the Roundhouse Thursday for a tour with MCSD Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte and other district staff.
“I think it’s really cool that there’s a connection between Kentucky and Adolph Rupp with this high school in Iowa … not as a basketball coach, as a wrestling coach!” said Ryan Lemond of Kentucky Sports Radio.
The group from Kentucky checked out the artwork depicting Rupp, as well as Olympic Gold Medalist wrestler and MHS alum Allie Morrison, in the newly-renovated wrestling area of the Roundhouse. The radio personalities were in the area for news coverage of presidential candidates ahead of the Iowa Caucuses.
“The wrestling coach (job) is almost like a trivia question that you could stump Adolph Rupp fans with,” said Drew Franklin of Kentucky Sports Radio with a smile.
After graduating from college, Rupp sought a job with Marshalltown Schools as a basketball coach. However, he was offered the position of high school wrestling coach. Allie Morrison, a student-athlete at the time, had been acting as the team’s head coach prior to Rupp’s arrival.
Dr. Schutte said Rupp had no prior experience with wrestling and went to the library to read all he could about the sport. Despite his lack of experience, Rupp’s Bobcats won a state wrestling championship in 1926.
After his time at MHS, Rupp went on to other coaching gigs before finally landing at the University of Kentucky. The rest, as the saying goes, is history – Rupp went on to win four NCAA titles and coached at UK for more than four decades.
The UK Wildcats now play their home games at Rupp Arena and continue to be among the best college basketball programs in the country.