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Worst Wrestler Turned Great College Coach

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Doesn't apply but a story I want to share none the less...

 

I might have shared this story before, but I am not sure.

 

Anyways, I know a high school coach in a poor rural community. He was a college swimmer who has never wrestled a match in his life. He was hired to teach at the school and they had some coaching openings--JV soccer and varsity wrestling. He took the jobs since no one was looking to fill them and they came with a boost in pay.

 

Since he didn't know anything about wrestling, he focused on the basics of wrestling that he could learn and coached his athletes these basics and continued to teach these basics.

 

When the wrestlers would get good with the technique, they would do it more. Since the athletes on the team only knew basic techniques, they all would constantly use them on each other. This lead to them getting really good with them (since you'd have to be when your opponent practically knows what you're going to do each time). As he learned some additional techniques here and there he would teach it and add it to their training but the wrestlers were limited in their technique compared to most programs.

 

But they were really good at the limited techniques and had to learn them perfectly.

 

After years of coaching the same way year after year he ended up being conference coach of the year. He produced some really good wrestlers over the years. All with a focus on the basics and discipline.

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Tom Borrelli was 58-27-2 at the citadel...(obviously this isn't terrible, but pairing 'bad wrestler/great coach' may be hard) but was twice named MOW of the program.Not sure if he was an all american ( i could not find him in the list of AA from 78-79) He has done great things as a coach.

 

Brian Smith was not an AA at MSU?, but was a 3x BiG placer. has 84 career wins, 32 as a senior. lost to kelber in qtrs 8-7 and a one point loss in R12. I would say he is a pretty good coach.

 

Im not sure Ed Gallagher wrestled... so... 

not sure about his replacement Art Griffith being a wrestler or an AA either... 

 

Not sure Joe Seay was an AA at KSU but was 3x national greco champ

 

Pat Pecora was a 2x qualifier for West Liberty.. DII? but not AA

 

Mike Denny was 2x qualifier at Dakota Wesleyan but not AA

 

Frank Romano was a 3x qualifier but not AA at tOSU

 

Lars Jensen was a 1x qualifier for SFSU

 

Marlin Grahn was a 4x qualifier at port state, but never AA. took 5 to the NCAA DII championships and came home with 5 champs and the team title.

Edited by GockeS

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Doesn't apply but a story I want to share none the less...

 

I might have shared this story before, but I am not sure.

 

Anyways, I know a high school coach in a poor rural community. He was a college swimmer who has never wrestled a match in his life. He was hired to teach at the school and they had some coaching openings--JV soccer and varsity wrestling. He took the jobs since no one was looking to fill them and they came with a boost in pay.

 

Since he didn't know anything about wrestling, he focused on the basics of wrestling that he could learn and coached his athletes these basics and continued to teach these basics.

 

When the wrestlers would get good with the technique, they would do it more. Since the athletes on the team only knew basic techniques, they all would constantly use them on each other. This lead to them getting really good with them (since you'd have to be when your opponent practically knows what you're going to do each time). As he learned some additional techniques here and there he would teach it and add it to their training but the wrestlers were limited in their technique compared to most programs.

 

But they were really good at the limited techniques and had to learn them perfectly.

 

After years of coaching the same way year after year he ended up being conference coach of the year. He produced some really good wrestlers over the years. All with a focus on the basics and discipline.

You forgot the end of the story.

 

And that coach's name ... was Dan Gable!!!

Edited by Fletcher

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Tony Ersland who was a starter at Iowa his senior year fell one match short of AA status.  I don't know how much he was in the lineup prior to that year, but he lost to Mark Smith in OT in the blood round as a senior.  His record wasn't particularly impressive either, like 15-13 or something.  

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Tony Ersland who was a starter at Iowa his senior year fell one match short of AA status.  I don't know how much he was in the lineup prior to that year, but he lost to Mark Smith in OT in the blood round as a senior.  His record wasn't particularly impressive either, like 15-13 or something.  

Im not sure I put Tony in the great coach category yet...

I like some of the things he did at Nebraska... as an asst.

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How about Tommy Chesbro? Tommy was a very average college wrestler, finishing his career with a record of 8-8-1 and his best result was 3rd at the Big 8 tourney in 1959. Tommy only won a single NCAA team title, but his teams won over 90% of their dual matches and OSU consistently had fine teams during his tenure. If it wasn't for Dan Gable I suspect Tommy Chesbro would've won several more.

 

Plus, Tommy let this hick walk on to his program. I'll always respect Tommy and admire him, and it deeply saddened me when I heard he died.

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How about Tommy Chesbro? Tommy was a very average college wrestler, finishing his career with a record of 8-8-1 and his best result was 3rd at the Big 8 tourney in 1959. Tommy only won a single NCAA team title, but his teams won over 90% of their dual matches and OSU consistently had fine teams during his tenure. If it wasn't for Dan Gable I suspect Tommy Chesbro would've won several more.

 

Plus, Tommy let this hick walk on to his program. I'll always respect Tommy and admire him, and it deeply saddened me when I heard he died.

dang, i never even looked at him, just assumed... remembered...thought... he was really good competitor.

nice catch.

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I gotta go with Duane Kleven.

 

UW non-starter ( no one seems to know his stats), but :

Upon completing his college education, Kleven coached at Wisconsin High for one year and had a State Champion in Elmer Beale. 1962 through 1967 Kleven coached a U.S. Army team in Korea. In 1964 Duane became the Head Wrestling Coach at Racine Park and during this tenure there, Park won the State Championship in 1967 and 1969. He also had four individual State Champions while at Racine. From 1967 to 1968 Kleven served as Vice President of the Wisconsin Wrestling Coaches Association.

During the summer of 1969 Duane Kleven became the Head Wrestling Coach at Oshkosh State. One year later he was chose to become the 2nd Head Wrestling Coach in the history of the sport at the University of Wisconsin. In four years he coached Rick Lawinger to an individual National Championship, the first in wrestling at the University. Since that time he has coached seven National Champions, the highlight being in 1976 when 3 Wisconsin Wrestlers earned the honor at the same time. One year later Kleven was named N.C.A.A. Coach of the Year.

In 16 years of coaching, Kleven's teams have won 150 matches, lost 50 and tied 7. They reached up to 4th at the NCAAs a couple of times in his time.

 

Not too bad, I would say. He was my coach for his last 3 years at UW....hope I didn't have a hand in scaring him off!

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ROGER REINA, Pennsylvania ‘84, was team captain his senior year in 1984, served two years as Larry Lauchle's assistant and in 1986 was named the nation’s youngest Div. I head coach. His 19-year record of 205-106-6 more than doubles the next most wins at Penn.  Three teams were NCAA Top 12s, with a high of 9th -- the school's 3rd-best-ever. Reina coached 17 NCAA All-Americans and seven of Penn's eight multiple medalists.  He coached 2-time NCAA finalist Brandon Slay, a 2000 Olympic champion and 2000 NCAA champ, Brett Matter.

     Roger set an Ivy mark with seven straight titles. He coached the Quakers' first-ever EIWA team title and four straight from 1996-1999, a league first in 42 years.  After no individual titles from 1945-95, his 1997 team tied Lehigh’s league mark (7), among 31 won from 1996-2005. Five Reina grapplers earned Penn’s award as the top athletes in leadership and character.  He was elected Ivy coaches chairman, President of the EIWA and President of the NWCA. He was a four-time National Coach of the Year nominee and a three-time EIWA Coach of the Year.

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Tom Borrelli was 58-27-2 at the citadel...(obviously this isn't terrible, but pairing 'bad wrestler/great coach' may be hard) but was twice named MOW of the program.Not sure if he was an all american ( i could not find him in the list of AA from 78-79) He has done great things as a coach.

 

Brian Smith was not an AA at MSU?, but was a 3x BiG placer. has 84 career wins, 32 as a senior. lost to kelber in qtrs 8-7 and a one point loss in R12. I would say he is a pretty good coach.

 

Im not sure Ed Gallagher wrestled... so... 

not sure about his replacement Art Griffith being a wrestler or an AA either... 

 

Not sure Joe Seay was an AA at KSU but was 3x national greco champ

 

Pat Pecora was a 2x qualifier for West Liberty.. DII? but not AA

 

Mike Denny was 2x qualifier at Dakota Wesleyan but not AA

 

Frank Romano was a 3x qualifier but not AA at tOSU

 

Lars Jensen was a 1x qualifier for SFSU

 

Marlin Grahn was a 4x qualifier at port state, but never AA. took 5 to the NCAA DII championships and came home with 5 champs and the team title.

I believe West Liberty was NAIA when Pat Pecora was there.  Pat is truly one of the great, down-to-earth guys in the game.

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I'll throw the hat of my college coach in the ring here.  As I recall, John Clarke took 5th in the state of New York in high school and then joined the Army.  At his alma mater, St. Lawrence University, he was a small college conference champ but never an AA.  As a coach at SLU, he won a national team title in 1997 (we were 5th during my junior year) and he was named National Coach of the Year and is now in the National Hall of Fame.  He produced dozens of All-Americans and national champs such as Phil Lanzatella (Olympic Team alternate), Mike Connors, Tod Northrup, and Mark Shortsleeve.  A master of psychology like none I've ever seen before. His son MItch went on to win a national title for Ohio State and his son Johnny was an AA and is now head coach at Sacred Heart.  Great man who is still coaching little kids now.  Two years ago Coach and his wife had my wife and I up to stay with him for a weekend and he's still as sharp as ever.  Can never repay his influence on my life.

Edited by Coach_J

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ROGER REINA, Pennsylvania ‘84, was team captain his senior year in 1984, served two years as Larry Lauchle's assistant and in 1986 was named the nation’s youngest Div. I head coach. His 19-year record of 205-106-6 more than doubles the next most wins at Penn.  Three teams were NCAA Top 12s, with a high of 9th -- the school's 3rd-best-ever. Reina coached 17 NCAA All-Americans and seven of Penn's eight multiple medalists.  He coached 2-time NCAA finalist Brandon Slay, a 2000 Olympic champion and 2000 NCAA champ, Brett Matter.

     Roger set an Ivy mark with seven straight titles. He coached the Quakers' first-ever EIWA team title and four straight from 1996-1999, a league first in 42 years.  After no individual titles from 1945-95, his 1997 team tied Lehigh’s league mark (7), among 31 won from 1996-2005. Five Reina grapplers earned Penn’s award as the top athletes in leadership and character.  He was elected Ivy coaches chairman, President of the EIWA and President of the NWCA. He was a four-time National Coach of the Year nominee and a three-time EIWA Coach of the Year.

 

This is kind of a mean-spirited off-season thread.  Nevertheless, Roger Reina is an excellent head coach and phenomenal recruiter who did not advance past the first round of the EIWA tournament in three attempts in his wrestling career at Penn.     

 

There are countless rockheads who had successful wrestling careers but have proven that it takes more than just your own personal success on the mat to be successful as a head coach at the highest level. 

Edited by Frank_Rizzo

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Bruce Burnett to my knowledge was never an AA and was Olympic and World Freestyle Coach.

 

I don't know if the original intent was mean-spirited or not.  But as Frank points out, some of the worst coaches were very decorated competitors, and some of the best very meager in their accomplishments.

 

The current Russian head freestyle coach placed no higher than 5th in the Worlds and Olympics, an utter "loser" by their standards.

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