Merrill Wrestling Program inducts two wrestlers into Hall of Fame

TINA L. SCOTT
EDITOR

The Merrill Wrestling Program held their Hall of Fame Night on Jan. 13, 2022. Andy Lehman was inducted into the Merrill Wrestling Hall of Fame and was there to accept the award.

Jered Severt was inducted into the Merrill Wrestling Hall of Fame posthumously. Severt was also awarded the 2020-21 Merrill Assistant Coach of the Year Award. His family was there to accept the awards on his behalf.

Andy Lehman

Andy Lehman is inducted into the Merrill Wrestling Hall of Fame on Jan. 13, 2022. Submitted photo.

“Andy was a great competitor for Merrill and went on to do some great things as a high school coach,” current Head Merrill Varsity Wrestling Coach Brian Suchocki said. “He is very deserving of the honor.”
Andy Lehman wrestled for Merrill from 1985–1987 and was a member of the 1987 team that finished third overall at the State Tournament. Individually, he was a Conference, Regional, and Sectional Champion that year, and his Senior year he took sixth place in the State tournament @ 145 lbs.
Andy graduated from UW-Eau Claire in 1992 with a B.S. in Secondary Education and earned a Master’s degree from UW-Whitewater in 1996. He became a high school Physical Education and Math teacher in the Evansville school district (between Janesville and Madison) in 1993. He continues to teach in Evansville and has lived there with his wife Sara and their children, Nick and Annika, since 1995.
His career also includes significant accomplishments as a coach at Evansville. Andy coached football as Head Freshman Coach [1997-2001] and as Varsity Assistant [2002–2012]; coached softball as Head Softball Coach [1994-1997] and as Varsity Assistant [2016–2018]; and coached wrestling [1993-2021] for 28 years, six as Head Coach and 22 as Varsity Assistant. In that time, he helped Evansville wrestlers achieve a long list of individual and team accomplishments.
Andy said one of his most memorable and cherished moments in his coaching career was having his son, Nick, compete as a member of the first-ever Evansville Wrestling Team State Qualifier and having his daughter, Annika, as manager in 2014. He said being back in the UW Fieldhouse with his two kids was simply the best!
“None of the success I achieved as a competitor or coach in the sport of wrestling would have been possible without the high-level, knowledgeable, and superior coaches I had from Junior to Senior High,” Andy said in his acceptance speech. “I would like to acknowledge my former coaches who I hold in the highest regard and have the utmost respect for – without them, I would not be standing here before you tonight. Junior High coaches were Arvo Britten and Dave Belfiori. Senior High coaches were Head Coach Roger Wendorf and Assistant Coaches Leo Leiskau, Marty Loy, Terry Manning, and Randy Hill. Also, a sincere ‘thank you’ to my teammates through the years for helping to push me each and every day in practice! I have fond memories of the hard work, success, disappointment, and everything in between. Lastly and most importantly, a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to my parents, Rich and Nancy Lehman, for supporting and believing in me – know that your support never went unnoticed or unappreciated!”
“In closing, I’d just like to say that I am sincerely humbled, grateful, and honored to receive this recognition tonight,” he said. “Wrestling for the Merrill Bluejays was and still is something I feel blessed to have been a part of. This wrestling program helped to shape and mold me into the person I am today. Best wishes for continued success to Coach Suchocki and his staff! Go Big Blue!”

Jered Severt

L to R: Jered Severt’s sisters, Jamie Johnson and Tricia Crockford, and his mother, Denise Severt, accept his Merrill Wrestling Hall of Fame awards on his behalf. The awards were given posthumously, as Jered died in a tragic accident in April, 2021. Submitted photo.

“Coach Severt was a friend and a coach on our staff last year,” Suchocki said. “He is greatly missed, and I’m proud to see him inducted into the Merrill wrestling Hall of Fame.”
Jered “Kermit” Severt started wrestling when he was just five years old, participating in grade school tournaments with several cousins. He wrestled in Junior and Senior High School. He was a proud recipient of the Ogre Award (awarded to individuals who get the most out of the ability they have), earned fourth place at the State Tournament as a Senior, and was a member of the Team State Championship teams in 1992 and 1993. Many of his High School teammates became his valued and lifelong friends. Jered had hoped to continue wrestling at UW-Stevens Point, but injury cut that short.
Jered went on to become a teacher and never lost his love for the sport. Along with teaching, Jered coached wrestling at all levels and in every school district where he taught – in southern and northern California, in New Richmond, Wis., and then in Colorado, and finally back to his roots, here in his hometown.
“Wrestling was more than just about the sport for Jered,” his Hall of Fame bio read. “He always attempted to bring out the best in those he coached, not only in wrestling but in life. He wanted to teach wrestlers skills and improve their athletic ability, and build their character, as well.”
Jered died in April 2021 at age 46. The son of Jim and Denise Severt, he is also survived by his children, Ashton and Lincoln, and siblings, Jamie and Tricia.
“His positive influence lives on in those whose lives he impacted on and off the wrestling mat,” his post-humous induction into the Merrill Wrestling Hall of Fame read.
His memory, and his influence, lives on.

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