2005 Wayne Bruno  Sauk Prairie.jpg

Coach Bruno came to the University of Wisconsin La Crosse in 1962 from Downers Grove, Illinois. He wrestled for La Crosse until 1966, when he graduated with a double major in Physical Education and History.

Wayne began his coaching and teaching career in 1968 with the Kickapoo School District, where he taught elementary physical education, coached junior varsity and junior high football, and was the varsity wrestling coach. While at Kickapoo, his teams recorded 100 dual meet victories, won the school's first Scenic Central Conference and Regional championships, and qualified Kickapoo High School's first wrestlers to the State Tournament.

During that same period, Coach Bruno also participated in state and international exchange programs and sponsored some of the first Wisconsin Wrestling Federation and AAU takedown and freestyle spring and summer tournaments for youth and high school wrestlers in the southwestern area of the state.

In 1979, Wayne moved his family, which included his wife Kathy, daughter Anne, and son Tony, to the Sauk Prairie School District. He again coached football for a few years and was the varsity wrestling coach, along with teaching social studies at Sauk Prairie High School.

In his first 11 seasons with the Eagles, his teams brought Sauk Prairie its first Badger Conference, Regional, and Sectional Championships. After winning a couple more Conference and Regional Championships, and producing several Conference, Regional, and Sectional individual champions, State qualifiers, place finishers, and a State Champion, Wayne retired in 1990. That year he was voted District 5 Coach of the Year and was chosen as the Baraboo Order of the Elks Coach of the Year.

In 1993, Wayne returned to coaching the Sauk Prairie Eagles. In his 22 years at Sauk Prairie, his teams won numerous tournaments in many areas of the state and recorded a 225-99 dual meet record. Wayne's teams were consistently recognized by Top Ten and Honorable Mention rankings in the Crossface newspaper. 

Wayne also remained involved with USA Wrestling, hosting many youth and high school level tournaments. In addition, he sponsored a German Exchange program.

Wayne is especially proud of his service as a board member and officer of the Wisconsin Weigh-In Club, promoting youth and high school wrestling in the south-central portion of the state. With the Weigh-In Club, he worked to sponsor the area All Star Wrestling Classic in the spring.

To Wayne, none of these accomplishments are as important as the positive impact he hopes he has made on the young men who chose to accept his high expectations in the areas of academics and sportsmanship, even though they went above those of the WIAA or the school district. When athletes made a mistake, they were held accountable. Although Wayne might have lost a point here and there for arguing a call, his athletes never did. All the athletes who competed on Wayne's teams were expected to put academics before takedowns, and never embarrass their team, their community, or an opponent. They were often complimented on their sportsmanship and behavior; there were no prima donnas who received special treatment over others because of their level of talent. Although this may have cost some matches and championships, this is what Coach Bruno believes respect for wrestling is all about. He is as proud of the Crossface Academic All State individuals he has produced as he is of the State place winners.

Wayne also realizes none of his or his teams' accomplishments would have been possible without the sacrifice and understanding of his family. Beyond his immediate family, there is also his wrestling family, and Wayne accepts this honor for all of them. This includes the men who coached with him through the years, who gave unselfishly of themselves and their families, as well as the wrestlers who were willing to believe that they were not just learning wrestling techniques, but also life skills, by participating in the world's oldest and most demanding sport.

Coach Bruno says: "To me, the biggest compliment is to have people say we were tough to compete against, and to have former wrestlers say they hope their children are coached the same way they were, with the same expectations.”