Iowa, Minnesota State legend celebrates 100th birthday

A University of Iowa and Minnesota State Mankato legend celebrates his 100th birthday.
Published: Oct. 14, 2022 at 8:34 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 14, 2022 at 8:56 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - Wrestling is in Rometo “Rummy” Macias’ blood. The Davenport, Iowa, native, who was labeled undersized in high school, wouldn’t let anything stop him from competing in the sport he loves.

As a competitor, Macias placed third in the state tournament in 1940 at 105 pounds, and after serving during World War II, he went to the University of Iowa where he was a two-time Big Ten champion. He placed third in the National AAU in 1945 and 1946 while placing third at 125.5 pounds in the NCAA tournament in 1948.

Macias went on to be an assistant with the Iowa Hawkeyes before founding the Minnesota State wrestling program in 1950.

Rometo "Rummy" Macias is pictured during his college wrestling days at the University of Iowa.
Rometo "Rummy" Macias is pictured during his college wrestling days at the University of Iowa.(KEYC)

From there, the rest is history. The Mavericks won three national titles under the head coach (1958, 1959 and 1965) during his 38-year tenure with Minnesota State.

“I never gave a scholarship. Back in those days, we’d wrestle teams that had 19 free rides in wrestling. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Iowa, Iowa State, but I didn’t need that if the boy would come here and work hard,” Macias said.

Macias is one of the winningest coaches in college history after piling up almost 300 wins throughout his career.

While coaching at Minnesota State University, Macias coached 19 individual national champions, 92 All-Americans, 2 NAIA championship teams, and one NCAA college championship team.

The success he saw at Minnesota State not only took the program to national championships, but it also grew the sport across Minnesota over the course of his nearly 40-year career as the coach of the Mavericks.

“When I arrived here in 1950, there were only 33 high schools that had wrestling, and it surely ballooned, and I like to think I had a little bit to do with it.”

Minnesota State put Macias into the Mavericks Athletics Hall of Fame in 1982, and his reach went further than just wrestling, as he would go on to coach multiple sports, become a published author and officiate games.

Wrestling is his first love though, and every year for 60-plus seasons, Macias attended the NCAA Division I Wrestling Tournament in person. His incredible streak came to an end a couple of years ago with the COVID-19 protocols changing up the format.

Now, Macias is turning 100, and the Mavericks are throwing an open house from 1-5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 17, to celebrate at the Loose Moose.

Another unbelievable milestone for the Maverick legend, and there’s no question his legacy will forever be embedded in Minnesota State sports.