The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Larry Bielenberg Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Mike Dicianna.

March 21, 2016


Larry Allen Bielenberg was born in 1955 in Silverton, Oregon and grew up on a farm near the community of Scotts Mills, Oregon. The son of a logger and one of ten children, Bielenberg was raised in a family that emphasized hard work as a virtue, and that hunted and fished as a form of subsistence. Bielenberg's first introduction to sports came about during his years as a student at Silverton High School. Initially involved in football, Bielenberg was subsequently invited to join the wrestling team during his freshman year. By the time he had completed high school, Bielenberg had won two state championships in freestyle wrestling, and one each in folkstyle wrestling and Greco-Roman wrestling.

Bielenberg enrolled at Oregon State University in 1974, recruited as a scholarship athlete by legendary OSU wrestling coach Dale Thomas. Competing in the heavyweight division, Bielenberg won the national championship as a sophomore in 1975 and also claimed All American honors during his junior and senior years, when he finished third and second respectively at the national meet. He remains second all-time in OSU history for wins with 165 and is the school's career leader in pins with 94. Bielenberg won 51 matches during his senior year, which is the second highest win total for a season in Oregon State history. Having amassed an overall record at OSU of 164-15-1, Bielenberg was inducted into the OSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1994 and was named to the Pac-12 All Century Team in 2016.

Bielenberg completed his athletic eligibility in 1977 and earned his degree in Health and Human Performance a year later. While still an OSU student, Bielenberg began to compete on an international basis, participating in the 1975 Junior World Championships. He was also an alternate on the 1976 Olympic team and wrestled in the 1978 World Championships, where he finished in a tie for third. Bielenberg retired from international competition in 1980.

Following the conclusion of his years as a wrestler, Bielenberg built a career in the pharmaceuticals industry, working as a technician and manager for Hopton Technologies and, later, Eka Chemicals. He retired in 2016.