Goodnature inducted into National Wrestling Hall of Fame

Published 4:07 pm Tuesday, May 4, 2021

On April 24, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, Minnesota chapter held its 19th annual banquet and ceremony and inducted nine new members and honored two from the 2020 class who have contributed significantly to Minnesota wrestling and beyond.

Albert Lea coaching legend Larry Goodnature was honored after being inducted in the 2020 class.

Goodnature began his wrestling career in Albert Lea from 1967 to 1971 under Hall of Fame wrestling coach Paul Ehrhard. In addition to wrestling, Goodnature participated in football, cross country and track.

In wrestling, Goodnature was a Minnesota state champion at 145 pounds in the old “one class” system.

“I think a month before the end of his senior year in 1971, he got a lot of confidence and more assertive,” said assistant coach at the time Neal Skaar. “He beat the defending state champion in the finals of the regional tournament, Mark Lange of Caledonia, then beat him again in the finals of the state tournament. He had been building confidence his senior year, but that last month was something.”

He went on to wrestle at Mankato State University from 1971 to 1976, where he was a three-time All-American, finishing fourth in the NCAA II national tournament at 158 pounds in 1973; sixth in 1974; and fifth 1976.

Goodnature wrestled under another legendary Hall of Fame coach in Rummy Macias. After graduating in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology and physical education, he accepted his first teaching/ coaching position at Hutchinson High School where he coached for three years, from 1976 to 1979, returning to Albert Lea and serving as an assistant coach to Skaar.

He took over the head coaching position in 1992. 

“I always wanted to get back to Albert Lea,” Goodnature said. “I’ve always been a part of winning programs and Albert Lea had that history. I was very fortunate to learn from legendary (Albert Lea coaches) like Paul Ehrhard, Neal Skaar and Rummy Macias (Mankato State).”

Goodnature has been a wrestling coach for 42 years, 39 of those years at Albert Lea with 25 of those years serving as head coach. His Hutchinson High School teams won three Suburban West Conference titles and at Albert Lea his teams captured 10 Big Nine Conference titles. His Albert Lea teams have reached the state dual tournament seven times and the state finals four times. He coached 142 state qualifiers with 71 as state placewinners. Eight of those were state champions. For coach Goodnature’s success as a coach, he has been honored as Big Nine “Coach of the Year” 10 times, Section “Coach of the Year” 14 times and Minnesota Class AAA “Coach of the Year” three times in 2006, 2009 and 2015. He has accumulated an overall career coaching record of 546-166, which ranks him 11th All-Time among Minnesota wrestling coaches.

Another important part of Goodnature’s coaching career that he is most proud of is that his teams won eight state Class AAA Minnesota Academic State Championships.

“We stressed academics first, then the sport of wrestling,” Goodnature said “If a student is disciplined in the classroom, they are going to be disciplined on the mat.”