Former Central coach DuCray honored by his induction into National Wrestling Hall of Fame

Former Central wrestling coach Ted DuCray had a 278-33 record in duals during his time coaching the Warriors from 1976-94. DuCray was honored Saturday during the Warrior Classic for his induction into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Ted DuCray didn't have trouble summing up his feelings about being inducted into the Colorado chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

"It's a better feeling than winning Lotto," DuCray said.

He would know.

DuCray shared a Lotto jackpot worth millions with 10 people across the state. He still got plenty of money to take with him into retirement, which came after a career coaching the Central High School wrestling team spanning from 1976-94.

That career included two team state championships, 42 tournament victories and four Warrior Classic team titles. Most important to DuCray was the impact he made on hundreds of men who have succeeded long after high school. Those accomplishments alone, he said, were enough to make him feel like a rich man.

"There was a time when I knew everyone who ever wrestled for Central High School," said DuCray, who said he still has a trophy from the first tournament Central's program won in 1953. "I don't so much anymore because I've been gone for so long. But when I retired, I had a heck of a hard time. I missed the kids terribly. I loved them."

DuCray was honored in a ceremony prior to Saturday night's fifth-place, third-place and championship matches inside Central's main gymnasium. He heard of his induction in a letter from Lee Roy Smith, the executive director of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

"This award acknowledges that your life has been significant and you are leaving behind a legacy for others to admire," the letter reads. "Ted, you are leaving your family, friends and wrestling fans a valuable asset ... a respectable name and reputation for serving the sport that we all consider worthy of passing on to future generations."

DuCray, a graduate of Central High School and the University of Northern Colorado, started coaching at Bookcliff Middle School and lost only one dual match — to Fruita — in his 10 years at the helm. He moved to Central and compiled a 278-33 dual-meet record. His win total, along with his .893 winning percentage in dual meets, ranks among the best of the coaches documented in the Colorado High School Activities Association's wrestling record book.

He was also an assistant football coach at Central, admitting he used that as a recruiting tool for wrestling to beef up his team's depth in the upper weights. Big guys weren't the only guys he recruited, though: he convinced Laurence Gurule to go out for wrestling.

"He was four-foot nothing, and he thought he was a basketball player," DuCray said. "Look at him now."

Even Gurule, now in his 22nd year as the Warriors' head wrestling coach after succeeding DuCray, agreed.

"He tried to recruit me and I told him I'd talk to my parents, but I lied," Gurule said, laughing. "I went home that night but I never talked to them, and I came back the next day and said 'They said no.'

"He finally got me to come out the next year and I got my butt kicked. From there I just took off. He had a big part in that."

Gurule is one of several of DuCray's former athletes to start coaching careers. Among them are former Central football coach Vern McGee, current Central football coach Shawn Marsh, and Brandon Milholland, Cedaredge's athletic director and head football coach.

Those former athletes are the ones DuCray feels are responsible for making him feel like he won Lotto again.

"This is the absolute top," he said. "But I sure didn't do it all by myself."

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