Wrestling Programs With New Coaches, How Did They Do This Past Season?
Last year during the off season, the college wrestling world saw big change ups in head coaches to some major programs across the country. Some of the changes were due to retirement and others were due to firings. Regardless of how the positions opened up, some big names in the wrestling world like Chris Bono, Damien Hahn, and Angel Escobedo were put in charge of some historically great wrestling teams. After their first year of coaching, let’s look take a look to see how these coaches did at their new schools in their first years.
Anytime a Big Ten school gets a new wrestling coach it is a big deal. Long time IU wrestling coach Duane Goldman stepped down as head coach of the Hoosiers after over 25 years of leading the program. Taking his place was Angel Escobedo who was a four time All-American, three time Big Ten Champion, and an NCAA champion in 2008 at 125. Escobedo is an Indiana native and was a four time high school state champion. Prior to taking this position, Escobedo was an assistant coach at Iowa State.
During his first year as head coach, Escobedo’s Hoosiers had a dual meet record of 6-12 with wins over #25 ranked Stanford and #12 ranked North Carolina. The win over North Carolina gave the Hoosiers their first win over a top fifteen ranked opponent since 2008. It appears that Escobedo is on the right track to take Indiana wrestling to the next level.
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Last year, Tim Flynn became the Mountaineers ninth head wrestling coach after coaching at Edinboro for 21 seasons. Flynn wrestled at Penn State where he earned All-American status.
In his first year as head coach at West Virginia, Flynn compiled a record of 4-14 with a notable win over #20 ranked North Dakota State. West Virginia is not typically known for their wrestling, but Flynn was able to achieve great success during his time at Edinboro which is a much smaller university. With time, history shows Flynn with have the Mountaineers a top 20 team.
With long time coach Tim Flynn leaving Edinboro to coach at West Virginia, it presented an opportunity for Edinboro alumni Matt Hill to step in and take his place as the 12th coach of the Fighting Scots. Hill wrestled at Edinboro from 2002-2007 under Flynn, then went to Kent State and served as an assistant coach until the position of head wrestling coach opened up at Edinboro. Hill was a three time national qualifier for the Fighting Scots.
As Hill’s first year as a head coach, he had a disappointing season with a 2-9 record with victories over The Citadel and Cleveland State University. This is a significant drop in performance compared to two years prior where Edinboro had a record of 8-5. Hopefully Hill can bring in the right people and work to bring Edinboro back to a top college team.
South Dakota State
This past season, South Dakota State had a great hire in long time Cornell assistant coach Damion Hahn. Hahn has spent the last twelve years helping to coach one of the nations top teams at Cornell. During his time at Cornell, they had eleven top 10 finishes including runner up twice at the NCAA championships. As a wrestler, Hahn was a three time Big Ten champion, a four time All-American, and a two time NCAA champion.
During his first year as head coach, Hahn’s team went 3-10 on the season. It is important to note that South Dakota’s best wrestler, Seth Gross, did not compete due to injury last season. Jackrabbit fans should not be worried because with Hahn’s experience coaching at Cornell, he will have SDSU a top team very soon.
The Michigan Wolverines had a change in head coach after long time coach Joe McFarland retired after 19 seasons. Stepping up to fill the spot was Sean Bormet. Bormet wrestled for the Wolverines and was a two time all American. Bormet brings a wealth of coaching knowledge and great recruiting skills to the Michigan program. In the past, he had been an assistant coach at both Michigan and Wisconsin and also ran a wrestling club in the Chicago area.
In his first year at Michigan, the Wolverines had an impressive 13-1 record with wins over #6 Lehigh, #18 Purdue, #16 Arizona State, #19 Illinois, and #2 Ohio State; their only loss last year was to #1 ranked Penn State. In addition to the impressive dual meet record, the Wolverines placed 5th at the NCAA tournament which is one of their most impressive finishes in recent history. It appears that Bormet was the right hire as he is bringing Michigan wrestling to the elite level.
The University of Wisconsin hired Chris Bono as their new head coach last year after longtime wrestling coach Barry Davis retired. Bono had been the head coach of South Dakota State where he found success in a school that was not especially known for their wrestling. While at SDSU, he had five All-Americans, one national champion, and the Jackrabbits placed 12th at the NCAA tournament which is the best season they had ever had. Prior to SDSU, Bono had been an assistant at his alma mater Iowa State where he was a three time All-American.
In Bono’s first year as the head coach of Wisconsin, the Badgers had a 9-6 record with notable wins over Illinois and Nebraska. At nationals, Wisconsin had two All-Americans: Evan Wick and Cole Martin. Davis left some big shoes to fill and it seems that Bono is off to a decent start. Look for Wisconsin to have an even better season this year than they did last year.
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