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Gwinnett sends two to wrestling HOF
Hennebaul, Ramos inducted in National Wrestling Hall of Fame

NORCROSS - Bud Hennebaul had a story for every member of his family.

There was one about his uncle Fred, who broke his neck while wrestling, and one about his father Walt, who was always preaching to give back to the sport.

Hennebaul took his father's advice and was honored for his years of service on Sunday by the National Wrestling Hall of Hame. He was one of six inductees along with Collins Hill coach Cliff Ramos to be inducted in front of 400 people at the Hilton Atlanta. Hennebaul joins his father Walt in the Georgia chapter of the hall of fame, an honor that would certainly make his late uncle proud.

"I've got to thank my family. I wish my uncle Fred was here," Hennebaul said. "My dad has always been the driving force for wrestling in our family. 'Give back to wrestling' is what he always said."

Hennebaul took his father's words to heart. A state champion wrestler at Parkview in 1978, he was the driving force in bringing all five classifications together for the traditional state tournament. The event is the largest wrestling tournament in the country in terms of participants.

"The Georgia High School state tournament it's just ... to me, it's something we've needed in Georgia for many, many years," Hennebaul said. "One thing led to another and we finally did it. To me that is just the one thing I think of wrestling that really inspires me."

Hennebaul has 40-plus years involvement in the sport. He's been an official in Georgia since 1992 and president of the Metro Atlanta Wrestling officials. He also is a member of the GHSA weight management committee and rules interpreter and was named Man of the Year by the Georgia Wrestling Coaches Association in 2005.

"Wrestling has just been a great thing for me," Hennebaul said. "So many great things happened to me because of wrestling even though I didn't win a whole lot and got beat up pretty bad. The experience I had with it was just great."

The countless relationships, not wins and honors, that Ramos has built over the years was what made the veteran coach proud to be in the hall of fame.

"It really is true what I said about relationships in this sport," Ramos said. "I know that what I like the most is the relationships. I know wrestling does build character, it makes you tough enough to handle any life lesson, but I've grown to like relationships the best."

Ramos has a 560-76 dual record in 32 years as a head coach. He's spent the last 14 years at Collins Hill, building the Eagles into a state power. Collins Hill has won five state championships under Ramos and placed in the top three at the state tournament the last nine years.

But it's the relationships he's built with coaches, parents, officials and wrestlers that he cherishes the most.

Coaches like Jim Lofton, who Ramos met while at East Hall, Brian Hage, Gordon Pritz, Steve West and longtime assistant Jim Tiller have all had an influence on him.

Even the referees, who Ramos has been know to mix it up with over the years, drew the coach's admiration.

"Through the years we've had some discussions and some encounters. They've been wrong a lot of the times and I've been wrong maybe once," Ramos joked. "They're good men."

But the greatest relationship Ramos has built is with his wrestlers. He's coached hundreds of state qualifiers, dozens of state placers and several state champions.

"They've made such a big difference in my lifetime," a choked up Ramos said. "People you've never heard of and they all made a difference in my life, every one of them."

Along with Hennebaul and Ramos, Michael Tony Mills, Jeff Wheeler, Marty Hustell and W.L. Hughes were inducted in the Georgia chapter of the hall of fame.

"I'm honored to be a part of this class," Hennebaul said. "There are a lot of great people that have done a lot for the sport and the kids in the state of Georgia. It's just great to be a part of this group."