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December 18, 2014

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Local wrestling coach joins National Wrestling Hall of Fame

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Sean Ammerman

Longtime Las Vegas Valley wrestling coach and Basic graduate Jimmy May was recently hired as Baker University’s coach. May, who guided Eldorado to 12 states titles, is in charge of starting the NAIA school’s program.

The Nevada Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall Of Fame will honor two of Southern Nevada's most prolific high school coaches on Saturday at its second annual induction ceremony.

Former Green Valley High coach Jimmy May, who coached Eldorado to 12 state championships from 1977 to 1998, will be inducted alongside Summerlin resident Chuck Diller, who will receive a Lifetime Service to Wrestling award for his 27 years at Rancho.

"I'm so humbled by this honor," said Diller, 56. "I'm very proud to be inducted with coach May, who I think is the most fabulous coaches to have come out here."

May, who moved to Henderson from Oregon as a child, developed into a dominating wrestler for Basic in the 1970s, winning a state title and qualifying for the USA World Greco-Roman Team.

Jerry Wager, who coached May at the Las Vegas YMCA, called him one of the best competitors to come out of Nevada.

"Jim was the kind of wrestler you only get to see a few times in your lifetime," said Wager, also president of the Nevada's hall of fame chapter.

May attributes his success to his mentor and coach at Basic, Mike Walters, who encouraged him to pursue the sport.

"I'm grateful he was a part of my life," said May, 54. "He was a coach, role model and father figure. He's more responsible for me than I am."

May attended Central Missouri University, where he compiled a 70-15 dual meet record. After graduation in 1977 he accepted the head coaching job at Eldorado and turned its program into the most successful in the history of Nevada.

In 21 years with the school, May coached 54 state champions and 13 All-Americans.

The proudest moment of his career came at 1992 state championships, when his son, Danny, jumped into his father's arms after winning a title.

May was hired head coach at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kan., in August. The school's first wrestling team will debut in 2009.

"I'm excited to work on building a program from scratch," he said. "I feel like this is the perfect next step for my career."

With Eldorado dominating prep wrestling for more than a decade, success for other schools was hard to come by.

Diller's Rancho grapplers were a constant challenger. During his 20-year tenure as head coach, his team was state runners-up twice while 22 wrestlers won individual state titles.

Diller had a knack of working with wrestlers who had little experience as Rancho had no proper feeder program.

"Even though I was head coach, it was the kids who bought into the system," Diller said. "Without great kids, there would be no great coaches."

Diller has also coached tennis, softball, football, volleyball, and baseball while at Rancho.

"I never thought I would have stayed in it as long as I did," said Diller, who still teaches at Rancho. "Rancho treated me so well. There were some bad years in the beginning and I was surprised they even kept me."

The Nevada Chapter of the Hall Of Fame will also induct Jim Coverley and Dave Nevin from Reno, and Las Vegas attorney Bill Curran, who will receive the Outstanding American Award.

Nevada's hall of fame is an official state chapter of the National Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Okla.

The chapter will hold a golf fundraiser on Nov. 7 at Rhodes Ranch Golf Club. For more information call 702-731-6605.

Sean Ammerman can be reached at 990-2661 or [email protected].

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