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 2018 Grand Marshals:
ALVIN J. KALTOFEN
Al Kaltofen began his wrestling career at West Aurora High School where he was a three-time lettermen. He wrestled his freshman year at Iowa State before transferring to Northern Illinois University, where he was a two-time NIAA Conference place winner.
He began his coaching career at Oswego High School where he had four state qualifiers and a state place winner. Moving on to Lake Forest High School, he had one state qualifier in his five seasons coaching there.
When the College of DuPage opened in 1968, Al became the school’s first wrestling coach, a position he held until retiring in 1997. During his time at College of DuPage, Al had numerous NJCAA national qualifiers, including 15 All-Americans. He finished his NJCAA career with 245 dual meet wins, ranking in the Top 10 nationally all-time at the time of his retirement. The Chaparrals also won two Illinois state titles, and Al was named Illinois Junior College Coach of the Year five times. College of DuPage also hosted the NJCAA Championships for six years under Al’s leadership.
Al led seven teams overseas for the Junior College Association’s USA Wrestling. He was chairman of the National Junior College Wrestling Hall of Fame Committee for six years as well as vice president of the National Junior College Association and chairman of the National Junior College National Team Committee.
During his career, Al spent 15 years on the governing boards for both USA Wrestling and its Hall of Fame. He was an NCAA officials evaluator four times. He hosted the Chicago-land Free Style and Greco Roman Championships for the Illinois Wrestling Federation for two years. And he ran the Wheaton Wrestling Club for 15 years.
Al was inducted into the NJCAA Hall of Fame in 1985 and the Aurora West Hall of Fame in 1999. He was named a “Friend of Wrestling” by the IWCOA in 1986 and the NJCAA Nan of the Year in 1989. Al is retired and lives in northern Wisconsin.
A native of Chicago, Rob Ledin learned to wrestle from his father, Hall of Famer Donald Ledin. He went on to be a three-time letterwinner at St. Laurence, helping the Vikings to a CCL title and a pair of Regional plaques under the tutelage of Robert Trombetta.
After completing his high school career in Burbank, Rob wrestled under George Girardi at Illinois State University, the campus he’d return to 16 years later to also earn a Master’s Degree.
Ron began his career in education and coaching at Hinsdale South, before leaving for a position at the Chicago Park District, where he also started an IKWF Club in Archer Park. His return to education brought him to Normal Community High School, where he taught and coached wrestling at the high school and grade school levels.
Rob’s first head coaching job came in 1995 at Clinton High School, where he helped produce an IHSA Dual Team runner-up in 2000 and a third-place finish in 2001. During his eight seasons leading the Maroons, his team accomplishments included five OKAW Conference Championships, three IHSA Regional titles, 36 Individual State Qualifiers, 14 State Placers, five State Champions and 131 dual wins.
Rob went on to spend three seasons coaching at Morton High School, before being hired by Hall of Fame Coach, Marty Williams, to take the helm at Mahomet-Seymour High School in 2006. Since taking the reigns for the Bulldogs, Ledin’s teams have included 31 state qualifiers who have helped win 10 Corn Belt Conference Championships, six Regional titles and made two trips to the Elite 8. All told in his career, Rob has amassed a 356-159 career dual record, including 71 individual state qualifiers, 20 state placers and six state champions.
A member of the IWCOA Hall of Fame and past Man of the Year and Coach of the Year award recipient, Rob has been an IWCOA Executive Board member since 1999 and has also served as the organization’s past President. Rob and his wife of 27 years, Christa, reside in Mahomet. Rob and Christa have three children: Laura (19), Kiel (17), and Jenna (13).
A former national champion, All-American and a three-decade NCAA Division I wrestling head coach, Ralph McCausland is being honored as a 2018 Grand Marshall for his outstanding contributions to the sport in the Land of Lincoln.
A product of Wheaton Central High School, Ralph coached at Wheaton Central and later Downers Grove North before returning to his alma mater, Eastern Illinois University, in 1983.
During his 24-year tenure leading the Panthers, he managed to have at least one EIU wrestler qualify for nationals every season, as 34 wrestlers earned 58 total trips to the NCAA Championship Meet. That outstanding accomplishment was further highlighted by six wrestlers achieving All-American status, as well as a team-best finish of 26th place in 1996. That included Matt Hughes, who went on to win multiple titles in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), placing fifth at 158 pounds in 1997, just prior to becoming Ralph’s assistant coach.
Ralph hails from a long and decorated Illinois wrestling lineage, as he was coached by Ed Ewoldt as a Wheaton Central freshman and John Fuller during his sophomore, junior and senior campaigns. Ralph ultimately placed fourth at the 1975 IHSA state meet at 132 pounds. He would also eventually secure Hall of Fame status at Wheaton Central.
A 1980 EIU graduate, he earned Panther athletic Hall of Fame honors in 1989 after nabbing three All-American honors and an NCAA DII National Championship at 142 pounds, all under the tutelage of his former long-time EIU mentor, Ron Clinton.
Ralph personally credits Ewoldt, Fuller and Clinton for shaping both his life and coaching philosophies. He continues to pay their outstanding wrestling and life lessons forward to his numerous former student-athletes, many of whom continue to give back to the state of Illinois as current and former coaches at all levels.
Fittingly, Ralph was recognized with induction into the Illinois Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1999.
Todd Rosenthal has spent his entire career giving back to student-athletes as a teacher, coach and administrator. A talented wrestler at Moline High School, he went on to wrestle at Illinois State University, and before beginning his career in education, would go on to win medals overseas competing for the Junior Pan-American Greco and Freestyle Wrestling Team.
Todd spent nearly 30 years as a high school coach, coaching not only wrestling, but also golf, football, soccer and track & field throughout his career. His tenure as head wrestling coach at Moline High School ran from 1985 to 2000 and included a career record of 278-55. During that span, 63 of his wrestlers qualified for the IHSA Individual State Finals, with 11 going on to place, as well as a pair of state champions in Mark Pustelnik and future Illini national champ Matt Lackey. The Maroons also excelled in the IHSA Dual Team State Tournament under Rosenthal, as they won three trophies, including the Class AA State Championship in 1996.
Todd’s accomplishments as an Athletic Director on behalf of his students were significant as well, as they included a variety of facility upgrades and renovations, including of Moline’s historic Wharton Fieldhouse. The Illinois Athletic Directors Association (IADA) named Todd the Athletic Director of the Year for his division on two separate occasions.
For more than a decade, Todd has worked at the head table at the IHSA Individual Wrestling State Finals, where his numerous duties include the coordination of the culminating Grand March. His contributions to wrestling have been recognized with his enshrinement in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Illinois Chapter and the IWCOA Hall of Fame.
Todd retired from his duties as Athletic Director at Moline High School in 2017. He and his wife of 33 years, Sue, have two children, Keeley and Ryan, and continue to reside in Moline. In retirement, Todd remains involved in the community, including serving on the Board of Directors for Rock Island County, the Quad Cities Marathon and the John Deere Classic.