Larry Hayes owns the distinction of being the first three-time NCAA champion in Iowa State’s rich wrestling heritage. A two-time Big Eight champion, Hayes helped jumpstart ISU’s wrestling tradition under the tutelage of head coach Harold Nichols.
As a sophomore in 1959, Hayes placed second at the Big Eight Championship to help Iowa State to a second-place finish at the conference meet. At the NCAA Championship in Iowa City, he captured the NCAA title at 137 pounds, teaming with national champion Ron Gray and All-Americans Les Anderson and Ellie Watkins to earn a second-place finish.
Hayes moved up to the 147-pound class in his junior campaign. He won another Big Eight Conference championship and another NCAA title to help ISU place third and second, respectively.
As a senior captain in 1961, the Amateur Athletic Union named Hayes Iowa’s Outstanding Athlete of the Year. He once again won the Big Eight and NCAA titles at 147 pounds, helping ISU to third-place finishes in both competitions.
Hayes notched a 51-4-1 career mark. His teams finished in the top-three in the nation throughout his time at Iowa State. During that time period, Hayes and hi teammates collected a combined 36-7-2 dual mark.
For nearly two decades, Hayes held the distinction of being the only Cyclone to win three national titles. Hall of Famer Nate Carr became the second in 1983 and Cael Sanderson became the third after winning four consecutive from 1999-02.
Following his storied career, he was honored with induction into several halls of fame. He has been recognized as an inductee into the Helm’s Foundation Amateur Wrestling Hall of Fame, The Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame in Cresco, Iowa, and the Iowa High School Wrestling Hall of Fame.