An induction ceremony for the Winona Wrestling Hall of Fame will be held on Saturday, November 23, at the Winona Elks Lodge starting with a social at 4 p.m., a meal at 5 p.m., and a program at 6 p.m.
David Moracco — 1964-1978
Head wrestling coach
David Moracco was born and raised in Geneva, N.Y., by Anthony and Carmella Moracco and began his wrestling career at Geneva High School as a freshman in fall 1955. Moracco was a four-year letter-winner and was undefeated in the regular season in his sophomore through senior years at Geneva under head wrestling coach Elmer Leach. Moracco was a Section V runner-up as a sophomore, losing on a referee’s decision, and a Section V champion in his junior and senior years. As a senior captain, Moracco was unscored upon throughout the season, giving up just two points in the Section finals in a 5-2 victory, and recorded the fastest fall in team history at seven seconds. Both records remain unchallenged. There was no state wrestling meet in New York at that time, so the Section tournament was the end of the road. Moracco was also a two-year letter-winner in both lacrosse and football and was named football captain as a senior. Moracco was also active in Student Council and served as Student Council president during his senior year. Moracco was inducted into the city of Geneva Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012.
Moracco had a brother as well as a nephew (his sister’s son) who were both four-time Section V champions and are also in the Section V Athletic Hall of Fame along with him. His sister’s other son graduated from West Point where he served as a wrestling captain.
Moracco traveled half way across the country to enroll at Winona State College where he majored in science and mathematics and participated in wrestling. Moracco was a four-year letter winner in wrestling, winning the NSIC Conference tournament as a freshman and a sophomore, losing by injury default as junior with a badly broken nose, and coming back to win the conference as a senior. Moracco placed fourth in the Division II National tournament as a freshman, third as a sophomore, was unable to compete as a junior, and came back strong as a senior, losing by a referee’s decision to the National champion in the semifinals. Moracco went into the Winona State Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011.
After graduating from Winona State, Moracco taught science and mathematics at Lake Crystal High School where he served as head wrestling coach and assistant football coach before coming to Winona, where he spent the next 15 years teaching biology and serving as head wrestling coach. His teams competed well in a tough Big Nine Conference and an equally challenging Region One in the sport of wrestling with numerous State entrants and place-winners. Moracco was also a football and wrestling official during his time at Winona State and Winona High and a member of the Minnesota Wrestling Officials Association. Moracco was also active in the Math and Science Teacher’s Association as well as the Winona Education Association serving as WEA president for a number of years.
In 1978, Moracco went to work with the Minnesota Education Association, serving as director of arbitration services for 14 years before serving as associate executive director with the Idaho Education Association. David and Sharron, his wife of 55 years, have three children and seven grandchildren. They have lived in the same house for the past 28 years in Mounds View, Minn., and spend the winters in Cape Coral, Fla.
Tim Ferguson – 1979
Tim Ferguson, son of Stan and Audrey Ferguson, grew up in Winona along with older sisters, Cindy and Jeri, and twin sister, Tammy. As a young boy in the ‘60s, Ferguson was drawn to watching pro wrestling on TV with personalities like Verne Gagne and The Crusher. When he found out the junior high offered wrestling, Ferguson signed up. He soon found out that the sport of wrestling had nothing to do with showmanship, but rather learning moves and holds. Ferguson was hooked the day he joined. With his small, but wiry frame, Ferguson discovered that sport of wrestling was tailor made for him. His high energy style earned him the nickname Sparky during his junior high years. With quickness, agility, and strength, Ferguson hit the varsity level with a bang, winning the Region One championship as a sophomore and qualifying for the State wrestling tournament all three years he competed. His three-year record at Winona High was 51 wins against just 13 losses in a tough Big Nine Conference and an even tougher Region.
When Ferguson was not preparing for and participating in wrestling meets, he was hunting. He loved to be outdoors enjoying nature. At a young age he designated himself “Tim the Woodsman” and would shape his signature to include this nickname. Hunting led him to Northern Minnesota where he hunted black bear with just a bow and arrow. His favorite game was the white-tailed deer. Ferguson was “in the zone” when tracking, studying, and documenting deer habits and patterns. Ferguson became known as a “walking encyclopedia” when it came to intricate details of deer and their habitat.
The quest for data also translated to his wrestling world as Ferguson would scour the sports page looking for wrestling results and saving articles and statistics on local wrestlers. He respected and revered his fellow competitors and became especially close with Scott Leighton, a wrestling opponent from Faribault.
Following high school, Ferguson earned a degree in marketing from Winona Vo-Tech. Ferguson applied this education to his long-time pursuit to work with Dick Idol, who traveled the North American continent with a spectacular collection of famous white-tail deer antlers from around the world. At the same time, Ferguson joined the staff of Game and Fish Publication as a contributing writer and photographer. When he wasn’t working, Ferguson led hunting expeditions in Montana and Canada.
Tim Ferguson’s life ended in a tragic auto accident on October 25, 1991, on his way to guide a group of hunters. He is survived by his father, Stan; along with his step-mom, Sue; brother, Shane; and sisters, Cindy, Jeri, Tammy, and Trisha.
Rod Hoesley — 1973
Rod Hoesley grew up across the street from a growing Winona State campus and claims to have climbed every building WSU had to offer. His dad and mom, Gilbert and Bonnie, were both teachers. Hoesley’s three sisters along with Rod and brother Russ all became teachers, following in their parents’ footsteps.
Hoesley’s first exposure to wrestling was when head coach Dave Moracco put on a wrestling demonstration at all of Winona’s elementary schools and made a stop at Phelps, Hoesley’s elementary alma mater. Hoesley’s first varsity action came as a 68-pound freshman when he lost a hard fought 4-2 match at 95 pounds. By the time he was a junior, Hoesley had grown into the 98-pound weight class and had a two-year record of 42-12 earning a sixth-place finish in the State tournament in his senior year. Hoesley was named Most Valuable Wrestler by his Winona High teammates in 1973.
Following graduation, Hoesley enrolled at Winona State majoring in biology. He wrestled for three years at WSU, missing one season with a dislocated elbow. Hoesley’s varsity record at WSU was 36-30-3 with a runner-up finish in the NSIC Conference tournament during his senior year. After graduating from Winona State with a major in biology and minors in chemistry and physical education, Hoesley spent a year teaching and coaching in St. Charles before going to Rushford-Peterson where he taught every science offered along with physical education, health, and even photography. Hoesley was named the Rochester Post-Bulletin Teacher of the Month in 1998.
During that time, Hoesley continued to wrestle with the Winona Wrestling Club, headed up by the late Pete Woodworth. Hoesley describes the experience as one of the most enjoyable endeavors in his wrestling career. Hoesley went unbeaten in dual meets and won three age-group tournaments during his time with the club, but the all-time highlight for Hoesley was helping his team to win the State Club Wrestling team tournament with a hard-fought 23-20 victory over a loaded Albert Lea squad in Albert Lea’s home gym.
In addition to coaching wrestling and cross country at Rushford, Hoesley served as Rushford’s track and field head coach for 10 years. His boys team won the State championship in 1988 and finished third in 1991 and 1992 and winning the True Team Title in 1991. After taking a few years off, Hoesley returned to coaching track and field as an assistant coach, thoroughly enjoying his next 15 years of coaching. Hoesley was named Section 1A Assistant Track Coach of the Year, the same year the girls team won the State True Team Title.
After 10 years of coaching wrestling, Hoesley became a wrestling official, working in both Minnesota and Wisconsin for 28 years. Hoesley worked the Winona Invitational for 26 of those 28 years and refereed The Clash (National Wrestling Duals) for four years as well as the Wisconsin State Tournament in 2016 and 2017 before hanging up his whistle in 2018.
Rod and his wife Mary live across the river from Winona and enjoy spending time traveling, camping, and backpacking all over the United States as well as hanging out at their cool boathouse on the Mississippi. Rest assured, Hoesley is still a loyal Viking fan. Hoesley is grateful for the opportunity to build relationships with many wrestlers, coaches, officials, and wrestling fans over the years.
Troy Wondrasch — 1987
Troy Wondrasch, son of Loren and Nancy, was born and raised in Minnesota City along with his older brother Todd and younger sister Tanya. His first memory of wrestling was a YMCA wrestling camp put on by Andy Blomsness with help from Bill Schmidt and Jim Pappas. Wondrasch remembers the great times he had wrestling for the YMCA as well as the Winona Park and Recreation Department wrestling program. Loren and Nancy went to every tournament and dual meet Troy wrestled in often driving two hours for a three-minute match. They made sure Troy had every opportunity to participate in wrestling and always encouraged him to work hard and do his best.
When Wondrasch was in seventh grade at St. Matthew’s, he volunteered to be a wrestling manager at the senior high as St. Matthew’s did not have a wrestling program. He remembers helping out as a practice partner and getting worked over pretty much on a regular basis, but loved every minute and learned a lot.
Wondrasch cracked the varsity line-up as a freshman and took a few thrashings, but showed tremendous improvement throughout the season. As a sophomore, Wondrasch started turning the corner finishing third in the region and capping off a solid year. As a junior, Wondrasch began to dominate opponents and came in to Regions with a great record, seeded number one, and dreams of going to State. He ran into a tough Northfield kid in the semis, but came back through the wrestlebacks only to lose a heartbreaker in the true second match.
As a Senior, Wondrasch had a stellar season and came into Regions seeded second behind that same Northfield kid. After losing a close match in the finals, Wondrasch had to defend his second place against a strong Burnsville wrestler, but won a hard fought (5-3) match to advance to State.
In the first round of the State tournament, Wondrasch drew the number one ranked and eventual State champ from St. Francis. Wondrasch shot in on a double in the first 10 seconds of the match and Kirpach caught him in a lateral drop for five. Wondrasch came back with a valiant effort, but lost 10-8, putting him in the wrestlebacks. From there Wondrasch wrestled some of the best matches of his career against outstanding opponents coming all the way back for a third place State tournament finish. Wondrasch finished his wrestling career with an 82 and 25 overall record wrestling a rugged Big Nine Conference schedule.
Wondrasch went on to wrestle at Augsburg College and had the opportunity to wrestle with Winona High team-mates Brad Schafer, Kurt Habeck, Joe Hoialmen, and Ricky Habeck. At one point all five wrestlers were in the Auggie starting lineup.
Now that he is a parent, Troy can fully appreciate the sacrifice and hard work that his parents put in to make the sport of wrestling an amazing experience, not only for Troy, but for the entire Winona area wrestling community. They took the Winona Mat Club to another level of service – with Nancy and Loren it was always all about the wrestlers and making the team better. Wondraschalso wanted to thank his brother Todd and sister Tanya for their support. They were busy with their own lives, but often took time to watch him wrestle and provide encouragement.