Four Grand Marshals, who have combined to contribute more than 140 years to the sport of wrestling, will lead the annual Grand March of Finalists Saturday night before the championship bouts of the 80th IHSA Individual Wrestling State Final Tournament.
First held in 1975, the annual March of Finalists is conducted at the State Tournament by the IHSA in conjunction with the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association (IWCOA) and the State Farm Center. Each year the Grand Marshals are honored for their contributions to the sport and to the young men and women who participate in it.
The Marshals play an important role in the color and pageantry of the event. They lead the 84 individual finalists and their coaches in a breathtaking Grand March around the Assembly Hall arena floor just prior to the championship bouts. The annual crowd in excess of 10,000 is witness to a spectacle of high school athletics seen nowhere else in America.
Here is a closer look at the 2017 Grand Marshals: MIKE BUKOVSKY
Mike Bukovsky is a 1983 graduate of Montini Catholic High School, who returned to his alma mater as a coach and turned the wrestling program into one of the state’s great dynasties.
Bukovsky played football and was a captain of the wrestling team during his time as a student at Montini, before first returning to the school as an assistant football coach in 1990. Four years later he joined the staff full-time as a teacher and coach, which included adding the head wrestling coach duties. His impact was immediate, as the Broncos placed third in the state twice in his first five seasons. That set the stage for the school’s first IHSA dual team state title in 2000, which was followed by four consecutive crowns from 2002-2005.
Bukovsky closed his tenure leading Montini wrestling with three more state titles, winning his sixth, seventh, and eighth state championships from 2008-2010. After one of the great runs in state history, Bukovsky handed the reigns to Israel Martinez, who continued the Broncos IHSA Dual Team dominance with five more state championships before the title streak ended at eight in 2016.
All told in his remarkable run as head wrestling coach, Bukovsky tallied a record of 460 wins and 39 losses, which remains the state record for winning percentage for coaches with at least 10 seasons at the helm. His team’s collected 11 total dual team trophies and his eight state titles make him the winningest coach in state history in that category. Of his 140 IHSA individual state tournament qualifiers, 32 went on to be state champions, including a trio of four-time champions, both of which are state records under a single coach.
Bukovsky led the Montini softball program to its first state championship last May and has been a part of six football state titles as the defensive coordinator at Montini. He was named the successor to legendary head coach Chris Andriano in December and will be the program’s third-ever head football coach this fall. JIM CHALOUPKA
Raised on the near west side of Chicago, wrestling wasn’t initially in Jim Chaloupka’s future, as he played football at De La Salle High School. He went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in History from North Park College, where he was drawn to the sport and took part in intramural wrestling. His first teaching and coaching job came at Harrison High School in Chicago, where he was a three-sport coach (Baseball, Football, Wrestling). Under his tutelage as head wrestling coach, he had 24 wrestlers place in the CPS Regional Tournament and four in the in the CPS Sectional Tournament.
Jim made stops at his alma mater and fellow Chicago Catholic League member St. Joseph, before returning to Chicago Public Schools in 1980, where he began a 30-plus year tenure at Crane High School that concluded with his retirement in 2012. It was just before joining the staff at Crane that Jim got involved in officiating, as he licensed with the IHSA in wrestling, baseball and football in 1979.
He quickly became one of the most respected wrestling officials in Chicago, working both high school and IKWF bouts. During his career, Jim combined to be selected to work the IHSA Dual Team and Individual Wrestling State Finals nine total times, while he also worked the individual tourney as a scorer, time keeper and weigh-in official on a dozen occasions.
Cumulative in his career, Jim worked over 50 IHSA Regional and Sectional tournaments, while also being picked to officiate 17 CPS Sectionals and 15 CPS City Tournaments. He has also worked the IKWF finals 13 times total.
Jim has been active in officiating Alliance National Tournaments and USA National Folk Style Tournaments, while his prowess on the diamond has allowed him to umpire high school baseball games at both Wrigley Field and Guaranteed Rate Field.
Jim credits his success and longevity as an official to his wife of 43 years, Christine, as well as their children Jennifer Hudson and James Paul Chaloupka, their spouses, and his grandchild Riley Hudson. DAVE CURBY
A native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Dave Curby attended the University of Michigan where he wrestled under Rick Bay. After earning his Doctorate in Educational Psychology from Northern Illinois University, Murney Lazier brought him to Lyons Township High School in 1975, where he joined the staff of Mark King and later became Department Chair of Physical Education and Health. He went on to spend 14 years at Niles North High School as Athletic Director, then Physical Education coordinator. In 1990, Dave and his family spent a year in Helsinki, Finland where Dave was a Fulbright Scholar.
As a competitor, Dave was a Junior National Champion, Big 10 Champion and team captain at the University of Michigan. He was a Junior World team member, placing fourth, and also a National Open Runner-up. He is a USA Wrestling Gold-level coach who is the founder and director of the International Network of Wrestling Researchers (INWR), which has 500 members in 79 countries. He is also the editor of the International Journal of Wrestling Science and the secretary of the Scientific Commission of United World Wrestling (UWW), the international governing body of wrestling. Dave chairs the USA Wrestling Scientific Committee and received the United States Olympic Committee “Doc” Councilman Award for scientific contributions to coaching in 2011.
Dave is a member of the IWCOA Hall of Fame, the recipient of the Alan Rice Leadership Award from the Greco-Roman USA Wrestling Hall of Fame, and in 2015, he was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame-Illinois Chapter as the Outstanding American. In 2010, the Curby family formed the Jacob Curby Foundation in memory of their son, who was a member of the US National team. The foundation has conducted the Jacob Curby Cup, America’s premier Greco Roman competition, as well as supporting wrestling education and programs for youth wrestling through Beat the Streets-Chicago, where he coaches a youth club at St. Sabina Parish in Chicago. RAY WINESBURG
Ray Winesburg first took to the wrestling mat at the age of six years old, which he followed with a record-setting career at Larkin High School in Elgin. He received a scholarship to continue his wrestling career at Northern Illinois University, and when it concluded, he decided to stay on the mat as an official.
With 37 years as an IHSA official, you would assume Ray has seen it all by now, but he says that is not the case because “wrestling, like chess, has no end of possibilities.”
Ray has been selected to work the IHSA Individual and Dual Team State Finals a combined 15 times, with 10 trips to Champaign for the individual tourney and five working the dual-team championships. He also served the IHSA as a Certified Clinician, helping to teach and train fellow officials. Ray is currently the Wrestling Assignment Chairperson for the Chicago Catholic League, Chicago Public Schools, Fox Valley Conference, Kiswaukee River Conference, South Suburban Conference, Southwest Prairie Conference and Interstate-8 Conference, in addition to numerous junior high school leagues across Northern Illinois.
Ray was named the IWCOA Official of the Year in 1999 and 2003, and was inducted into the IWCOA Hall of Fame in 2007. He recently served a two-year term on the IESA Wrestling Advisory Committee and has refereed the IESA State finals a dozen times. He also referees for the IKWF and for various wrestling tournaments across the United States.
Ray has always had the enthusiastic support of his wife, Donna, and his daughter, Season, a crowned Miss Illinois pageant winner, in his pursuits of officiating. He is professor and director of the science of welding at the Environmental Technical Institute in Willowbrook.
“No one loves the sport of wrestling and the art of the referee more than I do,” Ray said. “As a young man, I was successful on the mat, and in my later years came to see the importance of instilling wrestling's values in the younger generations.”