By Mickey Furfari
For The Register-Herald
Lewis Guidi, who died unexpectedly last week in Jefferson (Va.) Hospital at the age of 78, was one of the greatest wrestlers in West Virginia’s athletic history.
He also coached the sport in both the military service and high school ranks in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Guidi, who also was known as “Louie,” was considered one of the most outstanding and most decorated grapplers in the entire east during his Mountaineer career from 1953-56. The late Steve Harrick was his coach.
Guidi moved with his family from Jefferson, Pa., at the tender age of 13. Then, he attended University High School and won two state championships on the mat before enrolling at WVU in 1953.
Guidi, a four-year letterman, won the 123-pound Southern Conference championship. He was the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler in 1956 as a senior.
The All-America standout was the runner-up in his weight class in the NCAA Tournament in 1955.
Another lofty niche for his wrestling crown was a victory at the prestigious Wilkes-Barre Invitational, and he was named the meet’s most outstanding wrestler.
After graduating in 1956, Guidi served in the U.S. Army through 1959 at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, coaching in the base’s sports program, but he continued to compete while there.
Guidi, whose younger brother Gary resides in Morgantown, was the 1958 runner-up in the U.S. Nationals in freestyle and the 1959 U.S. Nationals runner-up in Greco-Roman. He also was the Fourth Army champion and All-Army champion during the period.
After completing military service, Guidi coached the first-ever wrestling team at Washington Township (N.J.) for five years. Then, he moved back to his native Pennsylvania to coach at Chartiers Valley High for 12 years and taught for 24 years.
He retired in 1993 and was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.
While Guidi did not spend much time in West Virginia after getting his degree, he left a wonderful legacy of admiration and love for the thrills he provided the Mountaineer wrestling fans.
Craig Turnbull, longtime head wrestling coach at WVU, said of Guidi: “Lewis is one of the greatest wrestlers in WVU history, and he was as good of person as he was a wrestler — just outstanding!
“He was one of the pioneers of our program, as he was the first wrestler to reach a NCAA final. His contributions to the sport of wrestling and to our program are very much appreciated. He will be greatly missed.”
Gus Marquis, former athletic director at Chartiers Valley High, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “He was the type of person you would want to coach your son. He was a great person, and I can’t say anything negative about him.
“He cared about the kids, knew about the sport and I had a tremendous amount of respect for him. I can’t say enough good things about him. He was just a great person.”
Guidi and his wife Sharon resided in McMurray, Pa. In addition to her, survivors include five children and eight grandchildren.
Funeral services were held Monday.