Big Red’s Blackburn Selected for Baldwin Wallace Hall of Fame
BEREA — Mike Blackburn will officially become a Yellow Jacket for Life when he joins nine other former Baldwin Wallace standouts for induction into the Athletics Hall of Fame as members of the Class of 2020.
Out of the 10 honorees, Blackburn, a 1999 graduate, is the only one being recognized for his achievements in two sports. While donning the Brown-and-Gold, the 1995 Indian Creek High graduate (he spent his first two years at Wintersville High before the consolidation with Mingo High) started four years as a wrestler and three years as a right tackle. Another inductee enters as a tennis player and coach.
“It’s definitely a great honor to be recognized in two sports,” he said. “It was a honor to get to play with some great athletes and to be coached by some great coaches.”
During his senior season in northeast Ohio, Blackburn earned first-team All American honors as a right tackle. He also was named first team All-Ohio Athletic Conference and first-team All-Region. The Yellowjackets went 27-13 during his career. In wrestling, he was a two-time NCAA Division III national qualifier as a heavyweight and finished runnerup twice in the OAC Tournament.
“Both guys I lost to made the national championships,” he recalled. “We had some good heavyweights in the OAC back then.”
His 75-50 career record on the mat ranks 29th all-time in Baldwin Wallace annals.
The Athletics Alumni Association Hall of Fame was established in 1965 and recognizes exceptional achievements and the impact on the Brown and Gold by an athlete, administrator or coach, team or honorary. The honorees were announced by the University’s Athletics Department, Office of Alumni Engagement and the Brown and Gold Club.
“I have so many great memories of Baldwin Wallace. I made friends with so many people and some that I am still friends with today,” he said.
He found that out recently when his father, Robert, passed away.
“One of my former roommates, without telling me, drove two-and-a-half hours for my father’s funeral,” he noted. “That really shows you what kind of bond we had and what good friends we still are.”
Another one of his close friends is Steubenville product JoJo Saccoccia whom he coaches football with.
“JoJo was our center. We had some really good offensive linemen. They were unbelievable.”
Following his collegiate career, Blackburn played four seasons with the Ohio Valley Greyhounds, winning national championships in the middle two campaigns.
After a year of coaching wrestling at his high school alma mater, Blackburn took over as head wrestling coach at Steubenville High. Fifteen years and numerous accolades later, he’s still at it. He was named the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division II Wrestling Coach of the Year in both 2012 and last season. His teams are 268-64 in dual meets.
In high school, Blackburn earned All-OVAC, All-Eastern District and All-Ohio honors following his senior season.
He was voted the Redskins Most Valuable Lineman. He was a district champion in wrestling and placed in the state. He was 98-37-1 on the mat.
Blackburn resides in Wintersville with his son, Braden; his girlfriend Kristi (Gotschall) and her son, Harley.