Although Frank "Sprig" Gardner did not wrestle at F&M, he was elected to the Sports Hall of Fame for his contributions to that sport. Gardner simply wanted to start a high school wrestling program, and to teach skills and sportsmanship to young athletes. Following graduation from F&M, he organized his first team at Mepham High School, Long Island, in 1937. He remained at the coaching helm for 21 years, except for a three-year stint during World War II when he served as a lieutenant commander on an aircraft carrier.
Later, he spent two years restoring the wrestling program at Gettysburg College. After a year at the junior varsity level, Mepham burst onto the scholastic scene. Not for eight years would Gardner's teams know defeat. In January 1946, Baldwin High School ended a streak of 100 consecutive victories, yet the loss was merely an interlude to greater success. Mepham would not fall again until January 1955, when a one-point loss to Amityville ended a string of 130 triumphs. In 18 years, Gardner's teams won 37 consecutive South Shore and Sectional tournaments. The battle lines spread beyond Long Island. Mepham overpowered the best teams and even all-star squads from five neighboring states. Overall, Gardner's wrestlers won 254 dual meets, lost five, and drew one. His tournament teams won four titles, shared one, and placed second three times. Gardner and his Mepham wrestlers were featured in a five-page article in Life Magazine.
Two of his proteges, George Creason and Sid Nodland, won National AAU championships while still in high school. Eighteen of Gardner's grapplers went on to win EIWA titles during their collegiate wrestling careers. In two decades at Mepham High School, Gardner sent his teams to the mats 304 times for dual meets or tournament competitions. Only 19 times did they fail to finish first, and two of those times ended in ties. Innovation was the key to Gardner's success. His drill system revolutionized the sport. He shared his concepts through books and articles and by turning his wrestling room into an ?open house? where anyone might come and learn. In recognition of his fabulous coaching career, and lifetime of leadership in the development of wrestling, the late Frank "Sprig" Gardner is also honored as a Distinguished Member of the National Collegiate Wrestling Hall of Fame.