Legendary former Phoenix High School wrestling coach Harry Mondale, who launched the program and led the Pirates to seven state championships and seven state runner-up finishes during a lengthy career, has died.
Mondale, 86, also played in the 1958 Rose Bowl for the University of Oregon and served as Phoenix’s football head coach from 1986-91. He was a line coach for 17 years prior to that, helping the Pirates to 1979 and ‘85 state championships.
Details of his passing weren’t immediately known.
Condolence messages to the family and remembrances of him appear on Facebook.
First-year Phoenix athletic director Dave Ehrhardt characterized Mondale as a caring, welcoming ambassador for the school even in the years since he left his coaching and teaching positions.
“Phoenix was a very important school to him. He gave to it throughout his career and beyond. He had a presence,” said Ehrhardt.
Pirates wrestling coach Jon Gay, who completed his first season this past winter, had already planned an inaugural tournament for next season that would be named in Mondale’s honor.
Mondale would occasionally watch wrestling practice and “enjoyed being around kids and at meets and matches,” said Ehrhardt.
In a 2007 Mail Tribune story announcing Mondale’s retirement from coaching after 39 years, he was characterized as a man with a stern temperament who shouted, cheered and cajoled his teams to 21 conference crowns in addition to success at the state tournament.
He started the wrestling program in 1969 and later kick-started a community effort to build a state-of-the-art practice facility. The 4,000 square foot wrestling room was completed in 1997.
“He’s the reason we have a pretty nice wrestling room,” said Ehrhardt.
This story will be updated.
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