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Ex-Dodger wrestling coach Formanek dies

Richard L. (Dick) Formanek, who coached the Fort Dodge wrestling team for eight seasons in the 1960s and had four state champions crowned under his direction, died last Thursday at his home in Osage. He was 85 years old.

Formanek became the Dodgers’ head coach in 1960 and served in that role until 1968, when he left to pursue and ultimately obtain his Master’s Degree at Oklahoma State University. In the spring of 1969, Formanek accepted the head wrestling coach and athletic director position at Osage High School.

Anthony Jensen was a two-time state gold medalist for Formanek and Fort Dodge, capturing the 95-pound weight class in 1961 and the 112-pound crown in 1962. Dick Patterson joined Jensen at the top of the podium as a state champ at 120 pounds in 1961.

Heavyweight Kent Osboe won a title in 1964, before capturing two NCAA small-college heavyweight championships at the next level for the University of Northern Iowa.

In 1966, the Dodgers were the Class AA state runner-up. Fort Dodge had earned a district trophy the year before as well.

State runner-ups during the Formanek era included Bob Highland (103 pounds in 1961); Tom Horton (154 in 1964); Dennis Knudsen (103 in 1965); Jim Neighbors (127 in 1966) and Keith Brown (127 in 1968).

Formanek took over at FD for Bob Morris, a former NCAA silver medalist at Iowa State Teachers College who moved back to his native Chicago area in 1960. When he left for Osage, Formanek was replaced by then-assistant Wayne Cormaney, who held the position for two years until Don Miller became head coach in 1970-71.

Formanek was also an assistant football coach and biology instructor at Fort Dodge.

Before joining the Dodgers, Formanek — a graduate of Tama High School, Northern Iowa and Oklahoma State — was a teacher and coach at Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson. He was a Little All-America football player and NCAA-qualifying wrestler at UNI.

Formanek spent nearly three decades at Osage High School as a physical education and science teacher. He was the head wrestling coach for six seasons, and an assistant football coach for 21 years at the school.

Formanek was inducted into the Osage Athletics Hall of Fame in 2020.

Formanek is survived by his wife, Marilyn; son William (Bill) Formanek; son Michael (Mike) Formanek and his wife, Jill; daughter Deborah (Debb) Formanek and her husband, Tracy Englebrecht; and four grandchildren.

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