William (Bill) Koll was born August 12, 1923, in Fort Dodge, Iowa. He graduated from the Iowa State Teachers College (UNI) in 1948 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in social science, and minors in physical education and the biological sciences. Koll continued his studies at the University of Iowa, the University of Wyoming, and Oregon State University. He received a master's degree from Northwestern University in 1950.
Koll was an instructor and wrestling coach at the University of Chicago from 1948 through 1951, and at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, from 1951 through 1952.
When head wrestling coach Dave McCuskey resigned from the Teachers College in 1952, Koll returned to his alma mater and began coaching both the wrestling and tennis teams. He was also an instructor of physical education and an assistant football coach.
In his first year as wrestling coach at ISTC, Koll led his team to a fourth place finish at the NCAA Championships. In 1957, he took a leave of absence for one year to finish up his doctorate. The following year Koll returned and took over as head coach once again. He resigned in 1964 to take a position at Pennsylvania State University. After eleven seasons as head coach at ISTC, Koll had a 71-42-6 record.
Koll began his wrestling career in high school, winning the state title in 1941.
After World War II, in which he participated in the Battle of the Bulge and D-Day, Koll dominated the 145 pound and 147.5 pound weight divisions. In 1946, 1947, and 1948, he was the NCAA national champion for his division. Koll was also named the NCAA Tournament Outstanding Wrestler in 1947 and 1948. He ended his career with a 72-0 record.
Koll was one of only of five UNI wrestlers to have competed in Olympic games. In the 1948 games, held in London, England, Koll placed fifth.
Koll in 1948
Compiled by Student Assistant Jonathan Russell; edited by Library Assistant Susan A. Basye, May 1997; last updated, January 14, 2014 (GP).
Former Panther wrestling icon dies
Bill Koll, who went undefeated while winning three NCAA wrestling championships at Northern Iowa and later became a successful college coach, has died in Centre Hall, Pennsylvania.
Koll, 80, died Saturday, September 27, 2003, of a stroke, according to the Mark D. Heintzelman Funeral Service in Centre Hall, where Koll had lived.
A native of Fort Dodge, Iowa, Koll went 72-0 during his Northern Iowa career and won NCAA championships in 1946, 1947, and 1948. He was the first two-time winner of the outstanding wrestler award at the NCAA meet, earning that honor in 1947 and 1948.
"He was in a class by himself," said Eldon Faine of Webster City, a teammate of Koll's at Fort Dodge High School.
Koll finished fifth in his weight class at the 1948 Olympics in London and returned to Northern Iowa as the Panthers' coach in 1953, compiling a 71-42-6 record.
He left in 1964 to become the coach at Penn State, where he was 127-22-7 in fourteen seasons. His teams finished in the top ten at the NCAA meet six times, and he had three individual national champions. Koll went undefeated as a senior at Fort Dodge in 1941 and won the state championship. He spent three years in the Army, after being drafted in 1943 during his sophomore year at Northern Iowa, and landed at Omaha Beach on D-Day.
Returning to Northern Iowa after the war, Koll became the dominant wrestler of his time. He was taken down only once and was reversed just twice in his college career, which he capped by pinning all five of his opponents at the 1948 NCAA meet.
Those pins were accomplished in 19 minutes, 17 seconds--a record for most falls in the least amount of time that would remain in the NCAA books for twenty-five years.
Copyright Associated Press; obituary appeared in Waterloo Courier, September 29, 2003, page C3.