South Dakota State University's first national champion in wrestling, Dee Brainerd became the 26th member of the Jackrabbit Sports Hall of Fame during activities at the 1990 Hobo Day game.
Brainerd, a native of Fort Dodge, Iowa, who transferred from the University of Iowa, won the 130-pound NCAA College Division championship at Cedar Falls, Iowa, in 1963. Brainerd went undefeated in dual matches and posted a 16-2 overall record on the way to his championship his senior season. In the national tournament, Brainerd won three matches and decisioned Bob Hollingshead of Western State 5-4 on riding time in the finals. He advanced to the NCAA Division I tournament and was victorious in one match.
"Winning the national championship was a big thrill for me. As the years pass by, it has more meaning. Being the first person to win a national championship is something that will never change. It is definitely something special," Brainerd said.
Brainerd's national title may have been overshadowed a bit in Brookings. Twenty-four hours prior to Brainerd's victory at nationals, SDSU's basketball team, coached by Jim Iverson, won the NCAA College Division national championship by defeating Wittenberg 44-42 on Sid Bostic's 40-foot shot at the buzzer, and that same weekend Brookings High School played for the state Class A basketball championship.
Brainerd credited his coach, fellow Hall-of-Famer Warren Williamson, on having a big effect on him during his tenure at SDSU."Warren really means a lot to me and I owe a lot to him. He really cared for me as a person and not just as an athlete," Brainerd said.
After graduating from SDSU in 1963, Brainerd became a high school teacher-coach, with stops at Miller, Tracy, Minn., and Estherville, Iowa. He coached wrestling for 21 years before retiring in 1984.